A main theme in To Kill a Mockingbird is struggle, problems, and overcoming those problems. A main problem in To Kill a Mockingbird is of overcoming racism and stereotypes during the Tom Robinson case, and Scout’s problem of growing up during the Jim Crow laws, where racism is something taught to children. Many families are shown to have surrendered to this, believing that blacks were superior. But Atticus, even though frowned upon by his one family, has ignored these stereotypes, and taught Jem and Scout to do the same. We are also faced with the problem of gender roles and expectations in the book. Scout is a tomboy during a time when women were supposed to be lady-like, but Scout did not desire this. She was different. Another problem that is discussed in the book is a division between the high class and low class. Yet even with all of these problems, Atticus manages to remain respectful of all, and understands where people are coming from.
Scout and Jem are raised in the Jim Crow laws. During this time, blacks were viewed as inferior. This is demonstrated in the Tom Robinson case. Firstly, a group of men attempted to lynch Tom Robinson, only to be stopped by Atticus. Later, in court, Atticus presents perfect evidence on why Tom Robinson was innocent, yet because of the time, he was determined to be guilty. This is one of the problems that Jem and Scout face growing up. Atticus’ is morals are perfect while dealing with this racism. He understands what was right and what was wrong, and he knows how to respect others. We should strive to take such an action when it comes to racism. Racism is becoming a large issue once again, and Atticus shows us the proper way to deal with racism. His ideals and way of showing those ideals is very good.
Scout was a tomboy when the expectations of a lady is to not do boy stuff, not to play outside and get dirty; she was the opposite of what she was supposed to be. Aunt Alexandra is a leader in trying to make Scout more ladylike. But once again, Atticus is fighting back against another stereotype. He lets Scout play with Dill and Jem, and does not force her to stay inside with Aunt Alexandra.
The class system has been a problem that has been around for a long time. It is something that is prominent in the text. There’s a social hierarchy in Maycomb County. It is something that is shown in the Cunningham’s life. They are forced to pay Atticus with goods, not money, because they do not have enough money to pay for his services. Atticus shows us how we should act when someone is not as wealthy as us. Atticus allows Walter Cunningham to pay him with the goods from Walter’s farm.
Atticus is a someone with good ethics and morals. He does his job, ignoring racial and gender stereotypes and expectations, yet not being rude in explaining his thoughts or his morals. We should model our life after Atticus. To Kill a Mockingbird also shows us what not to be: someone who views there opinions as 100% right. Someone who does not use stereotypes and racism to break people down and view yourself as superior. And someone who respects others choices on what they believe is right.