To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman

Social injustice, in the form of racism, is a central issue in Harper Lee’s writing. Her novels ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ and ‘Go Set a Watchman’ both challenge and confirm the belief in the value of social justice and equality. Social justice is defined as promoting a just society by challenging injustice and valuing diversity. To Kill a Mockingbird both challenges beliefs in social justice through the depiction of the citizens of Maycomb and confirms them through Atticus Finch and his family who will support social justice issues even under the threat of personal danger. Go Set a Watchman depicts the progress of black civil rights in the 1950’s and explores a range of responses to issues of racial equality, which suggest that social justice is not a simple matter of ‘black and white’ perspectives.

To Kill a Mockingbird explores the conflict between social justice and the in-ground racism of the South in the 1930s through the eyes of nine-year-old Scout Finch. Our beliefs about the lack of social justice in that time period are confirmed in the courthouse scene in TKAM, as it clearly portrays the extreme, axiomatic, racist beliefs of the general community. This is especially evident in the sentencing of Tom Robinson, and how justice was automatically denied to him due to his skin colour. The main technique used to effectively portray these concepts is the use of colloquial language, and through the persona of Scout Finch. Lines such as this quote 1clearly convey the credibility of the values Scout possesses, even though she is quite young, which further confirms values of social justice.

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Go Set a Watchman is the draft novel written before TKAM, which tells the story of 29-year old Jean Louise’s visit home to Maycomb in the 1950s, and explores the issues of social justice in a changing political and social environment. The text depicts the progress of civil rights and explores the conflict between Scout’s idealist…