“Never judge a book by its cover. ” This book in reality might be a good book, but one would not know because it is judged upon what its appearance is. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mocking Bird” has a wide variety of themes and messages in this 288 page novel. The author introduces themes like loneliness, prejudice and shows a lot of character growth. To Kill a Mockingbird is sleepy town where everyone knows one another. It is from a child’s eye perspective telling us about the interesting journeys she went through.
She learns a lot of important messages from prejudice, racism, loneliness and appearance vs. reality. Many characters in this novel are looked upon as drunks, impolite, or no life outside of their work but under what everyone sees is a different person, with reasons why they are the way they are. Dolphus Raymond is written off as a drunk. When really the reality is he is a sober man, pretending to be drunk. People of Maycomb County do not like the way he lives because he lives among Negroes and he is married to one.
Dolphus pretends to be drunk because he feels it gives the people a reason for his behavior. He thinks that by doing this people can say his lifestyle is this way because he is under the influence of whiskey. Dolphus explains this to Scout and Dill. “Wh-oh yes, you mean why do I pretend? Well, it’s very simple. Some folks don’t-like the way I live. Now I could say to hell with ’em, I don’t care if they don’t like it. I do say I don’t care if they don’t like it, right enough-but I don’t say to hell with ’em, see? Lee 200)” Dill and Scout were still jumbled about this theory, so Dolphus tried to explain it some more.
“I try to give ’em a reason, you see. It helps folks if they can latch onto a reason. When I come to town, which is seldom, if I weave a little and drink out of this sack, folks can say Dolphus Raymond’s in the clutches of whiskey- that’s why he won’t change his ways. He can’t help himself, that’s why he lives the way he does. (Lee 200)” In the eyes of Jem Finch, the appearance of Mrs. Dubose is a ratty, mean old lady.
She makes racial slurs and scares all the kids that go by her home because she is upfront and never holds back what is on her mind. One day she started shouting about how Atticus Finch was a “negro-lover” and that didn’t set right with Jem, Atticus’s son. Out of anger Jem goes on a rage, cutting off all the tops of Mrs. Dubose’s camellias. Jem’s punishment is to read to Mrs. Dubose every day of the month. He doesn’t like this because she rudely corrects him when he mispronounces a word. It’s not until after she dies that Scout and Jem get a sense of what’s going on behind the drool and bad mouthing.
The reality of it is Mrs. Dubose is a morphine addict who had vowed to go clean before she died, and that’s why she made Jem read to every day, to make her not think about the pain as much. This was so she could keep herself off the Morphine for a longer period of time. Atticus tells the kids the lesson he hopes they’ve learned from her. “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her.
According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew. (Lee 149)” Atticus says this to Jem after Mrs. Dubose dies. He means that courage is never giving up even when you feel beaten. Finally, the appearance of Calpurnia is seen as her just being the way she is with the Finches and not having very much of an outside life when the reality of it all is she does have a family, friends, and goes to church and participates in her community more than Scout realizes.
Calpurnia is the Finches’ black cook since Atticus Finch’s wife passed away due to illness. Calpurnia is a stern authoritarian and the children’s bridge between the white world and her own black community. When Scout starts seeing Calpurnia in relation to the black community this makes Scout realize for the first time that Calpurnia actually continues to exist when she’s not at the Finch house. ”That Calpurnia led a modest double life never dawned on me. The idea that she had a separate existence outside our household was a novel one, to say nothing of her having command of two languages.
You can see that just because you have the appearance of a drunk man, angry old lady or just a black cook doesn’t mean that’s the reality of who you actually are. Dolphus Raymond really wasn’t a drinker, he just thinks it gives people a reason for his behavior. He thinks people won’t mind his lifestyle because almost everyone thinks he is under the influence. Mrs. Dubose came off as an ungrateful old woman that said whatever came to her mind but in reality she was using Jem as a reader to keep her mind off of her morphine addiction and ie with living up to the vow she was going to cut the addiction.
Finally, Calpurnia in the eyes of Scout was a stern black cook with no life outside the Finch home. When actually Calpurnia opened Scout’s eyes to her life. She was involved in her community it made Scout realize Calpurnia actually has a life outside the Finch home. This just proves that appearance has nothing on reality. Reality goes in to the deep part of a person’s life instead of what everyone perceives you to be.