The novel is written by Harper Lee (1926- ) an American writer known for her 1960 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Lee studied law at the university of Alabama. While studying at the university Lee wrote columns, feature stories, and satires for the university newspapers and literary publications. In 1949 she left Alabama without completing her degree to pursue a literary career in New York. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is one of the most affecting and widely read books of American literature.
The book is a magnificent, powerful novel, in which the author depicts true picture of black men’s lives. The composition of the story is mostly narrative. The narration is presented by a girl who was the daughter one of the main character in the novel. The functional style of speech is the style of fiction with elements of oratorical style. The topic of the story is an injustice trial in relation to a black man. The extract in question mostly represents the speech of the attorney of the defendant.
In regard to the message to the story the author is likely to prove that all men are equal in spite of the color of skin. The story considers moral, sociological, psychological, literary, legal, racial and gender issues. The story is set in a court in a small American town in Alabama.. Actually, the whole extract presents the trial at the court. The main character is Atticus Finch, a court-appointed defence at the trial. He gives a speech in defence of his client Tom Robinson.
Robinson, a Negro, is charged with raping a white girl and he is on trial for his life. The story is told by Jean Louise, Atticus’s daughter who watches the progress of the trial and sees the futility of her father’s efforts to win the case. The author depicts Atticus as an experienced smart lawyer, an intelligent, responsible and fair man and what is more as a good father. It is obvious that he is a real friend to his children and his children respect and support him no matter what may happen. No doubt that Atticus is a great and talented orator.
His speech impresses the reader with its smartness, faithfulness, compassion and morality. It is emotional, effective, touching, sympathetic and very persuasive. This effect is achieved by means of lexical stylistic devices. The most frequent stylistic device is irony. Using irony the author implies that Atticus wants to tell an important moral message which goes behind the words. Atticus displays his attitude to what is going on in the society and modern court. He calls the justice of the court in a big question.
To express this idea irony is used: "But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal – there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court. It can be the Supreme Court of the United States of the humblest J. P. court in the land, or this honorable court which you serve. Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal. There are a lot of cases of using contrast in the text mostly these are “Negro” and “white”. That is very important point because it shows not only the situation in the particular trial but also a big crack of community. Atticus points out that black people erroneously are taken for liars and immoral people in the “white world”. The author also uses stylistic devices to emphasize the Atticus’s words: "Which, gentlemen, we know is in itself a lie as black as Tom Robinson's skin (simile is used), a lie I do not have to point out to you.
You know the truth, and the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral, some Negro men are not to be trusted around women – black or white (parallel structures and contrast are used). But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men. There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never done an immoral thing, and there is no man living who has never looked upon a woman without desire. " (parallel structures and antithesis are used).
So, the story contains a lot of stylistic devices which help to depict the Atticus’s character, to express his ideas and to create the whole atmosphere in the court. The novel is not only a story about race and gender discrimination, not only about the injustice of the court but also about people’s ignorance and rotten society which give a very bad example for the young generation. “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a true story about the situation in the American court, American society and its problems.