“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee depicts the story of Scout Finch during The Great Depression. The novel portrays dramatic episodes, unleashing the roots of racism and the consequences of prejudice regarding minorities. The book is a coming-of-age story demonstrating Scout’s maturing and the life lessons she learned during this period. Using figurative language and vivid imagery, Lee was able to build a contrasting plot by setting certain tones and moods throughout her piece which are distinct from the beginning to the end.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” uses the first-person narration from a six-year-old perspective, which instantly sets a specific tone for the novel. However, Scout can be considered an unreliable narrator due to her age and specificity to misinterpret the events. On page 222, Finch demonstrates such a feature by stating: “There was one odd thing, though, that I never understood: in spite of Atticus’s shortcomings as a parent, people were content to re-elect him to the state legislature that year, as usual, without opposition. I came to the conclusion that people were just peculiar” (Lee, 1960) The reader can distinguish the incompetency of Scout to understand adult matters and demonstrates her childish perception of things, setting a lighter tone to the book.
One of the most vivid imagery examples in the novel is the mockingbirds that instantly provoke an innocent mood of the episode. The following quote demonstrates the infantilism of the main hero: “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” (Lee, 1960, p. 82). Such episodes reflect the place of a particular creature’s life among others, teaching the readers a lesson by setting an innocent mood and enlightening tone to the novel and provoking them to reconsider their views.
Lee uses figurative language in her novel to draw attention to the most severe problems of society, such as racism, forcing us to think of pressing issues. On page 103 she uses a metaphor to depict courage and why it is crucial: “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what” (Lee, 1960). The author allows the audience to think of courage through metaphor and connotation.
Lee, H. (1960). To Kill a Mockingbird. J. B. Lippincott & Co