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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What are examples of the motif of blindness in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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The most obvious example of blindness in the novel is displayed by the jury's decision to overlook the facts presented during the trial and finding Tom Robinson guilty of the rape he could not have committed. Although the jury is able to see Tom's skin color, they apparently do not see his "small shriveled... rubber-like left hand"--one that is useless for work and for committing the crime for which he was charged. Scout's teachers both show signs of blindness: Miss Caroline for being unable to see that Scout's reading and writing skills are an advantage and not a hindrance; and Miss Gates for not recognizing that the plight of Maycomb's black citizens is not that different from the treatment the German Jews are receiving from Adolf Hitler. Aunt Alexandra is blind to any faults in the Finch family--Scout's unladylike ways notwithstanding--and she is unable to see that Calpurnia is a positive force in the Finch household. Perhaps most importantly, Atticus's bad eye is a family trait and symbol of his own personal weakness, but it does not prevent him from being colorblind when it comes to the races.

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