Students go to school to learn and to prepare for the real world ahead. The popular novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee teaches students many things that prepare them to become kind, mature, and genuine adults. Many of the lessons taught throughout her novel touch on people, and how they have been categorized and judged. It teaches readers to treat people equally no matter the colour of their skin, that violence is never the answer, and finally not to judge a book by its cover. To Kill A Mockingbird is an important book to read in classes because it teaches students important lessons that are used every day throughout their lives into adulthood.
One important life lesson taught in To Kill a Mockingbird is that violence is never the answer because it doesn’t solve the problem, and could possibly make it worse. An example of this lesson is when Bob Ewell spits in Atticus’s face. In Chapter 22, Miss Stephanie tells the children that Bob Ewell stopped Atticus at the post office and spat in his face. He told Atticus that he would “get him” even if it took the rest of his life. Atticus stayed calm and walked away from a potentially escalating situation. This a good example of him not using violence to solve his problem. Another example where this lesson is shown is when Tom stays calm when Mayella approaches him at her house after he helped her out with some daily chores. Tom says that “… I’d tip my hat when I’d go by, and one day she asked me to come inside the fence and bust up a chiffarobe for her,(Ch. 19)’ and that she came onto and attacked him first.
Tom’s reaction was smart and he stayed calm, didn’t use violence and didn’t hurt Mayella. A third example of this lesson taught in the book occurs near the end when Bob Ewell attacks Jem and Scout on their way home. They both stay calm until Boo sweeps in and saves them. Neither Jem nor Scout used violence against Bob even though they were in a threatening situation. In this case, the use of violence could have made the problem worse. It is very important to stay calm, resilient, and not use violence in situations like when Bob attacks Atticus and he remains calm, when Mayella comes onto Tom or when Bob attacks Jem and Scout and they do not fight back.
Another important life lesson taught in the book is that it is important to view things from other perspectives. An example of this is when Scout stands on Boo Radley’s porch at the end of the novel. During this moment Scout understands the past events from Boo’s perspective “One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough. (Lee 374)” This teaches the readers to view things from others’ perspectives because Scout starts to apprehend and sympathize with Boo’s point of view. A second example where this lesson is shown is when Scout witnesses Walter Cunningham being offered money at school and he doesn’t accept it. “Here’s a quarter” said Miss Caroline, Walter responds with “Nome thank you ma’am (Lee 25)”. Walter does not accept the money because he knows he would not be able to pay it back. Walter’s family is not as fortunate as the Finch’s, especially during The Great Depression. This moment makes Scout think about what it would be like to be Walter, viewing the situation from his perspective. A final example where this lesson is not demonstrated is when all of Maycomb does not consider viewing the trial from Tom Robinson’s perspective. If they had taken a moment and appreciated Tom’s point of view they may have realized he is not a bad person and that he is innocent. Understanding the perspectives of others and trying to imagine yourself in others’ shoes such as Boo Radley, Walter Cunningham, and Tom Robinson, is very important because you could never know what other people are going through and what their life is like.
One last important life lesson in the book, is the commonly known metaphor not to judge a book by its cover because it closes the door on an opportunity to get to know someone and understand them better. This is shown when Scout bullies Walter before getting to know him. When Jem invites Walter over for lunch, Scout begins to see that he is a nice person and that she should have given him a chance before judging him. Scout learns that it is important to get to know someone before judging them because you will never know what they are like. Another example is Arthur (Boo), Radley. Boo Radley was judged because of his backstory and his past. The rumor about Boo stated that when he was younger he supposedly stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors and then returned calmly to clipping articles in the paper. However, near the end of the novel, Boo turns out to be a thoughtful, genuine man. When Scout realises this she tells her father about how Boo saved her and Jem, and she tells him how nice he really is, then Atticus says to her “most people are Scout, when you finally see them. (Lee 376)”. One last example of this lesson is how Tom Robinson was judged throughout the novel based on the colour of his skin. Even though the readers know that it is not true, everyone in Maycomb believed that Tom raped Mayella Ewell because he is a black man. This teaches readers that even when many people believe one thing, it does not mean it is true. Walter Cunningham, Boo Radley, and Tom Robinson, are examples of characters who were wrongly judged by others, teaching readers a valuable lesson, not to judge a book by its cover.
The novel To Kill A Mockingbird is an important book to read in classes because it teaches students important lessons that are used every day throughout their lives into adulthood. It teaches readers that violence is never the answer, that it is important to view things from others’ perspectives, and not to judge a book by its cover. These are three lessons that teach students to become smart, kind, genuine adults. The important life lessons taught in To Kill a Mockingbird, a novel written in 1960, are as applicable to students today as they were almost sixty years ago.