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Courage, Femininity and Masculinity To Kill A Mockingbird

Courage, femininity and masculinity, are just a small list of the


representations portrayed through all of the characters in the stunning novel,
“To kill a Mockingbird” written by Harper Lee. Not all characters represent
the values, attitudes and beliefs of that time but in fact, they represent the
values, attitudes and beliefs that challenged them. All characters contribute
to a variety of discourses, which means that there is not one character, in
the novel, that does not contribute to the overall message of the novel. This
is why in this short-spoken presentation; courage, femininity and masculinity
will be discussed in comparison to the main characters that represent these
themes.

Harper Lee used many characters to show different types of femininity. The
most deceiving character that represents femininity is Jean Louise Finch or
otherwise known as Scout. She is a pre- pubescence girl, and is still a little
emotional. Scout may not be feminie in someone else’s eyes, but in her one
sense she is seen as a feminine character. Characteristically, in the 1930’s
little girls were seen to have a place in the house learning to cook and clean;
and stereotypically were expected to wear dresses. This however, did not fit
Scouts’ image of being a feminie character as she was seen as a tom boy by
some members of the Maycomb society.

Another character who showed femininity is Scouts Aunt Alexandra.


Alexandra associates with the correct people, uses her manners and
sometimes wears dresses which allows her to believe that she is still
feminine, even though she is a well built woman who is highly dominating
and behaves in a masculine way. Harper Lee used the discourse of femininity
among all of these characters to show that they are all feminine. The
characters just depict this theme in their own way.

Harper Lee constructed many characters who challenged the mental


characteristic of masculinity. Aunt Alexandra was one of these characters,
who was created to show the mental side of masculinity. She is a dominating
and masculine character who has control of her husband which means that
she is the dominating figure of her household. Alexandra always organises
everything, like Christmas dinners, which means that everyone has to go to
her. This creates an image that she is the matriarch of the family. The reason
Harper Lee used Aunt Alexandra as a discourse of mental masculinity, is
because she wanted to show that a female was above a male, which was not
occurring in the time period.

An alternative character who the author used to portray the discourse of


psychological masculinity is Atticus Finch. Atticus Finch is known to be in the
higher class of the Maycomb society because of his occupation. His dressing
is always formal and his thinking is revolutionary for the time period. Atticus
challenges the values, attitudes and beliefs of the time by defending a Negro
male named Tom Robinson. He is unable to win the prejudice trial which falls
in favour of Bob and Mayella Ewell and Tom Robinson is put in jail were he is
later shot dead.

The community finds out that the Ewell’s made a fake testimony which
makes Bob go out on a revengeful attack starting with Atticus. After Atticus
delivers the horrible news to Tom’s family that he is dead, he is confronted
by Bob Ewell who spits on Atticus’s face, expecting him to fight. Atticus does
not lower himself down to bob’s level and fight, but he merely wipes the spit
of his face and walks away which shows a large amount of mental
masculinity portrayed by Atticus.

The last theme being discussed is courage which is greatly represented by


Arthur Radley or otherwise known as “Boo”, Radley. Arthur Radley was
locked up in his house by his father when he was caught and arrested for
being at the wrong scene with the wrong people. He never came out of the
house in the sunlight and was never seen. From the inside of the house, boo
watched Jem and Scout carefully, making sure that they were not in trouble.
When the kids were under attack by Bob Ewell, Arthur had to leave his house
to help Scout and Jem. This is regarded as courage because Boo left his
house were he had sheltered for many years to help Atticus’s children and
risk being killed himself.

Boo stops Bob from murdering Scout and Jem. However Boo does not stop
being courageous there, he carries Jem home who is seriously injured after
the assault and stays with Jem just to make sure that he is safe. After Jem is
bandaged up, Atticus, Heck Tate, scout and some other characters discover
Boo hiding behind the door. He finally has enough courage to face the
members of the Maycomb community which again, takes courage. Harper
Lee wanted to show the discourse of courage which was represented both
mentally and physically by Arthur Radley.

In conclusion, Harper Lee wanted to show the comparison and differences of,
femininity, masculinity and courage of the 1930’s with the values, attitudes
and beliefs of the same time. Harper Lee proved that femininity, masculinity
and courage can be exposed in many ways it does not have to be revealed in
just one way.