Things That Other Fathers
In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee addresses many arguable issues such as gender norms, discrimination, and social class. Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee focuses mostly on gender norms. In To Kill a Mockingbird gender norms are enforced through stereotyping and impacts Jean Louise”Scout”, Jem and Atticus Finch. Harper Lee describes
Scout as a total “tomboy” she wears pants and plays with boys instead of identifying with girls and their expectations. However, Jem follows male expectations by being rough, athletic, showing courage and demonstrating maturity. Whereas, Atticus’s children felt that Atticus did not do things that other fathers did such as hunting or fishing.
First, Scout is characterized differently from the norm who likes to spend her free time playing with her older brother Jem and her best friend Dill. She doesn't care what other people think of her even if it comes beating up other children at school, who annoy her. “I was not so sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagined things, that's why other people hated them so, and if I started behaving like one I could just go off and find some to play with”(Lee 54). Although, Scout never really knew her mother she grew up around men. Therefore, Scout is persuaded that being a girl is a bad thing and she believes that if she starts to act like a girl Jem won't want to play with her anymore. In other words, the people you grow up with shapes who you become. In particular, Atticus gives Scout advice “don’t pay any attention to her just hold your head high and be a gentleman”(135). The fact that Atticus is Scout’s father, he is the one who is supposed to guide her in being a separate and powerful girl but instead, he tells her to be gentlemen. To conclude, Jean Louise is described as a tomboy who impacts gender norms through stereotyping.
Second, In To Kill a Mockingbird Jeremy Finch follows male expectations by being rough, athletic, showing courage and demonstrating maturity. For instance, when Jem tries to explain why people divide into groups and hate each other. “ You know something, Scout? I’ve got it all figured out, now. I’ve thought about it a lot lately and I’ve got it figured out. There are four kinds of folks in the world. There’s the ordinary kind like us and the neighbors, there’s the kind like the Cunninghams out in the woods, the kind like the Ewells down at the dump, and the Negroes.”(302). As a result, Jem is maturing and understanding the prejudice he sees around him. He still cheerfully believes that people are different and can be put down as according to race and social class. Another key point, is when Aunt Alexandra had just moved into the Finch house and she forced Calpurnia to bring up her bags, “Put my bag in the front bedroom, Calpurnia” was the first thing aunt Alexandra said and Calpurnia picked up Aunt Alexander’s heavy suitcase and opened the door. ‘I’ll take it,’ said Jem, and took it.”(169). This shows how mature Jem became and how he sees Aunt Alexandra is treating Calpurnia unfairly because of her class and race. Also, Jem considers Calpurnia as a mother figure and he deeply cares about her. To summarize, Jem pursues male expectations by being rough, athletic, courage and demonstrates maturity who impacts gender norms through stereotyping.
Third, Atticus’s children felt that Atticus did not do things that other fathers did and they think of him boring and dull. Furthermore, “When Jem and I asked him why he was so old, he said he got started late, which we felt reflected upon his abilities and manliness. He was much older than the parents of our school contemporaries, and there was nothing Jem or I could say about when our classmates said, “ My father-”(118). This shows how Jem and Scout feel towards their father and how he won't play football with Jem. They also feel unconcerned as compared to other fathers in the neighborhood. Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, they begin to realize he is a hero when he shoots the rabid dog. They had no idea that their father was a perfect shooter. It was that moment that changed Jem and Scout mind about how their father is boring and old. After all, when Atticus is asked about why he had never told him about “one-shot finch” he replied, “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 see it through no matter what”(149). As shown above, Atticus makes Jem and Scout very honored of their father. They gained new respect towards Atticus and how much he has given them. In short, Atticus did not do things that other fathers did although he taught them a lesson that they will never forget that's why Atticus impacts gender norms through stereotyping.
To sum up, Harper Lee talks about how gender norms are carried out through stereotyping and how it influences Scout, Jem, and Atticus Finch. Harper Lee characterizes Scout as a total “tomboy” she wears pants and plays with boys instead of identifying with girls and their expectations. However, Jem follows male expectations by being rough, athletic, showing courage and demonstrating maturity. Whereas, Atticus’s children felt that Atticus did not do things that other fathers did such as hunting or fishing. Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee focuses mostly on gender norms and how close-minded most people in Maycomb are.