Gender Roles in To Kill a Mockingbird
In To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee surreptitiously examines ethnic and class-based issues that delve into gender responsibilities, as well. First, she chooses the name Scout, which categorically transcends both genders. The protagonist metamorphoses, albeit symbolically, from being a female to a male and then back to a female character. In doing so, Lee imbues the social-cultural strata of her society, leaving leaders gasping for more. Quintessentially, Harper Lee uses gender pigeonholes to elucidate the women emancipation efforts that took place later in most societies.
Scout refuses the superfluities and flounces that match the elegance of young girls. Rather, she prefers boyish attires, games, and fights. This is not expected of her in this society. Since the death of her mother, it would seem that Scout lost touch with her society and would rather juggle from one corner to the other, essentially challenging dominant gender roles. However, she was not entirely hateful of her accomplices, but only debased those she felt carried a false demeanor, like Aunt Alexandra. Together with her friends, Alexandra looked down upon poor people, whom they considered “trash’ which made her embody the feelings inherent in the wider society. Indeed, this was their female role as expressed by the writer.
The men in this novel are seen as breadwinners for their families. Atticus and Mr. Cunningham pride themselves as role models of responsible husbands who can splash benevolence as much as they can. For instance, Atticus pays his bill to Mr. Finch. Besides, they are quick to castigate those who do not fulfill their fatherly roles, like Mr. Ewell. Moreover, Mr. Ewell is an embedment of evil. He is seen as an abuser of young children. This is a role that should be shunned as is clear from the attitude of his contemporaries.
In the middle of the novel, one can find that Scout doubles as a man and a woman. She puts on jeans and overalls. Indeed, she loses sight of her feminine disposition when Jem explodes in his feminine deportment. Although all the odds are against Jem since he cannot hide his masculinity, he starts to comprehend the irony of their behavior, thus reinforcing Scouts’ travesty.
However, at the end of the narrative, Scout tends to regain her composure and appreciates she is still a woman. This turns out to be ironical since she has always shunned being a girl. From this perspective, she sees herself growing into adulthood as a woman. Arguably, her discomfiture creates a balance between the two worlds, thus killing a mocking bird in her own style.