In the extract from her novel To Kill a Mocking-Bird, Harper Lee reveals the courage shown towards a mob of men set out to kill an innocent man. This particular extract ties in with the overall themes present in the novel, which are courage, innocence and growth, and prejudice through racism. The text is constructed as a first person narration from the adult of Jean-Louise Finch, in retrospect to when she was six. Lee's disapproving, sceptical attitude to the events has been revealed through the techniques of language, dialogue and point of view.
She has included this passage in order to draw the readers" attention to the injustices that occurred in the Nineteen thirties and to further explore the themes of the novel.
Harper Lee's extract imparts the danger portended in a scene outside the County jail between the lynch mob and an African-American, Tom Cunningham. Atticus, the Negroes" lawyer attempts to rid the intruders away, when his children appear in the scene. .
Scout, the youngest, oblivious to the serious nature of the scene, tries to strike up a friendly conversation with one of the men, a gesture appearing to be ludicrous to everyone else.
In the end, it takes the innocence of a six-year-old child to break the anonymity of the mob by reuniting a member with his identity, and hence destroying the rabble.
The jail scene proved to be very successful in revealing more of Atticus character, especially his courage. The reader becomes aware that Atticus is a character of reason, integrity and most of all courage. Lee is able to convey aspects of Atticus" idiosyncrasies through the dialogue used in the jail scene, which depicted Atticus" bravery and moral mentality. Although, placed in a threatening and dangerous environment, Atticus" tone and temperament remain civil and he remains true to himself. This can be seen when the lynch mob arrive and threaten Atticus to step aside and let them achieve the goal they set out to accomplish, to kill Tom Robinson.