What theme does Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird have in common with Tomasz Jastrun's poem "Father and Son"?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the title of Tomasz Jastrun's poem "Father and Son" indicates, one of the poem's central themes concerns the importance of father-son relationships. Words of the poem make it clear that the father and son do not necessarily agree on all aspects of life; yet, despite their disagreements, they remain close. A similar theme exists in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, which is developed through Atticus and Jem's relationship.

It is clear from the second line of the poem that the father and son in the poem are having some sort of conflict, as, based on the second line, the son is looking at the father "with reproach." Yet, by the sixth line of the poem, the son has decided to set aside his difference of opinion in order to make up with his father, as can be seen by the fact that the sixth line describes the son hugging the father. Though the words of the poem do not clearly spell out what the conflict is between the father and son, we know that neither of them find the conflict important enough to drive a wedge between their relationship; they both value their relationship far more than they value their own separate opinions. The fact that they clearly value their relationship helps develop the theme concerning the importance of a father-son relationship.

We see the importance of a father-son relationship revealed in Atticus and Jem's relationship as well. Atticus and Jem have many disagreements all throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, most of which they resolve. One example can be seen in the fact that Jem really wants Atticus to be the sort of father who can play football with him, like many fathers play with their sons, yet Atticus feels he is too old to be able to play and must let his son down.


A stronger example can be seen when, on the night Jem fears Atticus will be attacked by a mob, Jem goes out to check up on and protect Atticus if at all possible. However, fearing for his children's safety above his own, Atticus disagrees with Jem's insistence on remaining at the jailhouse with Atticus, as seen when Atticus says, "Go home, Jem ... Take Scout and Dill home," but Jem refuses (Ch. 15). Atticus even orders and begs Jem to go home multiple times, but Jem still refuses, showing us that Atticus and Jem have conflicting opinions at this particular moment. Though Atticus fears for his children's safety, it turns out that their being there is a good thing as Scout is inadvertently able to save the day by naively reminding Walter Cunningham, the mob leader, of his humanity.

Though Atticus disagreed with Jem's opinion that he should remain at the jailhouse with Atticus, since the situation turned out well, Atticus and his son make up on the way home. As Scout notes, "Atticus reached out and massaged Jem's hair, his one gesture of affection," similarly to the son hugging the father in Jastrun's poem. Atticus and Jem's ability to make up despite differences of opinion help develop the theme of the importance of father-son relationships, just as events in the poem develop the same theme.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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