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The impact that a piece of literature has on me - Essay Example

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Courage and perspective were two themes throughout To Kill a Mockingbird that made an impression on me. Courage is not only found in the realm of a battlefield or in great endeavors, but in our everyday lives, with each conflict and trial with which we are faced…
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The impact that a piece of literature has on me
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To Kill a Mockingbird Courage and perspective were two themes throughout To Kill a Mockingbird that made an impression on me. Courage is not only found in the realm of a battlefield or in great endeavors, but in our everyday lives, with each conflict and trial with which we are faced. Perspective plays a big part in how we conduct our lives and deal with others. We can view situations in life only from our personal standpoint and make decisions accordingly. Or, we can look at that same situation from the point of view of another party and have a different understanding which can ultimately affect our choices.
The story for To Kill a Mockingbird is set in 1930s Alabama, during the Great Depression and is told by six-year old Scout. She and her brother, Jem, deal with the issue of racism in their little town of Maycomb and it is with this backdrop that Scout learns a lot about herself and dealing with others. She is taught by her father to treat everyone equally and fairly but witnesses the unfair treatment of blacks in her town. Her father decides to take a case defending a black man accused of raping and beating a white lower class or "white trash" girl. When the town opposes Atticus for taking the case, Scout and Jem react negatively to the taunts from neighbors and family. As could be predicted, Atticus loses the case despite the evidence in the defendant's favor, but succeeded in challenging the jury to face their preconceived ideas.
It takes courage to resist societal or peer pressure. Atticus goes against the grain and chooses to defend a black man. He also risks his health and maybe his life by standing out in front of the jail to protect the accused from being lynched. Facing danger squarely and yet standing your
ground knowing the consequences takes courage. But Atticus wanted his son to know that being
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brave was not all about brawn. He used Mrs. Dubose as an example. She had the courage to face
a private but losing battle in order to reach a personal goal. Hers was a fight for victory over her addiction to morphine, knowing that winning would be at the cost of her life. As Atticus put it,
It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Page 112
It is hard enough to be courageous in life and it isn't always easy to put emotions aside to look at the world from another's point of view. Atticus taught Scout that by learning this one trick, she would learn how to deal with others. This for me stands hand in hand with having the courage to go against the tide. To learn to be open-minded is not an easy task. To put one's own ideas and views aside and entertain another when emotions might run high really takes effort. The jury had fixed ideas about Tom since he was black. They were forced to challenge their point of view based on the evidence and thus deliberated longer than usual. Scout and Jem were once terrified by the recluse Boo Radley based on the stories they heard and the opinions they formed themselves. He seemed to be a monster. Only after learning more about him and trying to see the world through his eyes do they realize that Boo is not bad at all and they come to understand and accept his choice to live the way he does.
We can choose to view and judge others based solely on our point of view and in our own life create the same intolerance evident in "To Kill a Mockingbird". Or we can try to walk in another's shoes and broaden our social understanding. I wonder if I would have the courage to change my view if I see there is something wrong with mine. Would I stand alone to follow my belief when society at large believes otherwise Would I follow my conscience or do what I believe if it makes me unpopular Or would I succumb to the pressure of society Although dealing with pressure from outside sources is hard enough, sometimes it requires greater courage to deal with oneself.
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Lee, Harper. "To Kill a Mockingbird." Warner Books Edition. December 1982 Read More
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