Judging others is an issue I have faced for the most part of my life which has been addressed in the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. I would not say that I have not had opinions, good and bad, about other people. What is more, I as well as people I know and some who are really close to me have been wrongly judged or misunderstood. Sometimes, this has escalated and caused discrimination or harassment. My main concern is that I feel that people should not make conclusions about other people without understanding other people’s points of view. In the reading To Kill a Mocking Bird, the theme of judgment has been explored through various characters including Scout who is the narrator, Miss Caroline, Atticus, and Calpurnia.
To start with, the issue of judgment is visible between Scout and Miss Caroline. After joining the school, Scout’s new teacher is Miss Caroline who is not happy because she thinks that Atticus taught Scout how to read since she knows so much. As such, Miss Caroline has already concluded that Scout’s knowledge has been instilled by her family. Similarly, Scout sees Miss Caroline as a misunderstanding teacher, especially towards her students.
When Atticus learns about Scout’s experience with Miss Caroline, he tells her, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view” (Lee 16). In this statement, Atticus is trying to discourage Scout, her daughter from making any judgment against Miss Carolina. Even though Scout has already formed a negative opinion about Miss Carolina ‘that she is mistaken about her students,” Scout does not know why her new teacher is behaving in that manner. Given that Atticus is a moral voice in the novel, he implies that Scouts should understand Miss Carolina’s perspective before making judgments. Likewise, Miss Carolina ought not to have assumed that Scout’s expertise in reading was because she had been taught by her father without having proof.
I can relate with Scout and Miss Caroline with multiple instances in my life. For instance, I recall how my classmates during my first year in college used to think that I had a personal tutor at home since I performed well in exams yet I used to attend almost all the social functions. What they failed to understand was that I used to go to the library to study on a daily basis. For years, I have been struggling with trying to make people less judgmental about others and consider their views first like Atticus advices in the novel.
Another quote that shows judgment in the novel is when Scout tells Calpurnia that “He ain’t company, Cal, he’s just a Cunningham” (Lee 13). Scout was referring to Walter and his family who she does not consider fit to be a company because they are from a lower social status. Scout, therefore, judged Walter based on what he does not have and concludes that he cannot belong to the ‘real people’ category as her.
Overall, judging others with no basis is a concern I am facing in life. People tend to make conclusions or have opinions about others without necessarily knowing their side of the story. This has been clearly depicted in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mocking Bird through Scout and Miss Caroline, Calpurnia and has been addressed by Atticus. Atticus advised Scout to consider the individual perspectives of others before making an inference as to why they are behaving in a particular manner.
Lee, Harper. “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Pp. 2-49.