Awareness In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird

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Some would say ignorance is bliss. While some may disagree with that statement, in the case of Jean Louise Finch —known as Scout in her childhood— the main protagonist in the novel, “Go Set a Watchman” by Harper Lee, that statement is upheld. It is a sequel to the novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird”. The story begins in the 1950’s, as Jean Louise is returning to visit her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama from New York City. She made this journey to check up on her elderly father, Atticus, and during her time back in her hometown, she finds herself at odds with the ideals of the community she once thought she knew. Racial tensions have put southern beliefs and civil rights on opposite ends of the scales, something Jean Louise comes to notice during…show more content…
During a conversation with a woman named Claudine whom her aunt Alexandra had invited over along with other women of the community, inquired Jean Louise as to how she could live in New York, as Claudine has taken a trip there with her husband and couldn’t make heads of how people of different races lived around each other so freely. To the inquiry, Jean Louise replied, “You aren’t aware of them. You work with them, eat by and with them, ride buses with them, and you aren’t aware of them unless you want to be (181).” It’s as if through the rising tension between races was invisible to her, because she didn’t choose to care about traditional worries of anything she didn’t consider an issue. Even as a child, she never thought of the blacks in Maycomb as anything less than a person. This color blindness can be attributed to Jean Louise being practically raised by Calpurnia, a negro. Calpurnia was someone she could trust, someone who had taught her essentials of life and acted almost like a mother to her. But it would become obvious to Jean Louise that the people she once knew had began to change, like when Calpurnia’s grandson, Frank, runs over and kills a white man and Atticus agrees to take the case, but only because, “NAACP- paid lawyers are standing around like buzzards down here waiting for things like this to happen (149)”, rather than doing it to help Frank out of loyalty to Calpurnia. This comes as somewhat of a shock to Jean Louise and also to the reader, as in Jean Louise's youth, Atticus had defended a negro man against a false rape accusation in one of the most infamous court cases Maycomb had ever seen. It only seemed natural that Atticus was a completely just man who didn’t think less of any race. However after finding Atticus’ pamphlet about the inferiority of blacks, Jean Louise follows and eavesdrops in on both Hank and Atticus at
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