The Fault In Our Perceptions

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Things are not often as they appear in this To Kill a Mockingbird essay.

It is a common saying told to every listening ear, echoed in our minds and reinforced through life changing experiences, but it needs repeating: Things are often not as they appear. 

Charles Spurgeon, and his wife, owned chickens, and people noted that they never gave any of the eggs away, but would only sell them. Some people felt they should have been more generous and accused them of being stingy and greedy. The Spurgeons were aware of these rumblings and criticisms but never responded. It was only after Mrs. Spurgeon had passed away that the full story was revealed—the profits from the sale of the eggs were used by the Spurgeons to support two elderly widows.

It is human nature to be curious; to grasp full knowledge and solve the unknown equations about people and the way they appear. There are 7 billion people on this planet. That means 7 billion different realities and interpretations of life.

 In our society, individuals often transform the apparent to create their perspectives, opinions and iron-clad determinations of other people based on insufficient information polished with fantasy and a wild imagination.  Wisdom and discernment are required to know the truth because what meets the eye can be misleading, and victims are usually fated to hide in a shell of misunderstanding.

In the Novel  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, the author suggests that in life things are often not as they appear.

It is a guiding theme in To Kill a Mockingbird for characters to display certain unruly and eccentric acts to be frowned upon by the reader only to discover it is a false perception of who they truly are — heroic, brilliant, and inspiring role-models. The characters Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose and Mr. Arthur Radley are the best proof of the thesis.

It is a neighborhood opinion that Mrs. Dubose is the meanest woman who ever lived. It is evident in how Jem wouldn't go by her place without Atticus beside him and Cecil Jacobs walking a total of one mile daily to avoid her. Her ugly remarks and ruthless interrogations further instill the perception of a vicious woman. The hatred Jem and Scout have for Mrs. Dubose deepens when she calls Scout ugly for not greeting her properly,  predicts Scout will be waiting for tables at the O.K Cafe because she wears overalls and classifies Atticus Finch as a "N***r lover." for defending Tom Robinson.

Her actions portray the perfect description of an elderly, ill-tempered, racist woman to the citizens of Maycomb.

After the death of Mrs. Dubose, the reader discovers that she was a Morphine addict who had made sure that in the few moments of her life, she was going to leave the world beholding to nothing and nobody. She wanted to break herself out of the substance before she died, and that's what she did. Atticus explains to Jem that she possessed real courage. Even if she would have spent the rest of her life on morphine and died without much agony, she was too contrary. She is truly a brave person despite her cantankerous ways and condescending views. Her life ends with a simple knot that ties the theme; Things are not often as they appear, together. What the neighborhood saw as a wretched vicious woman was in reality, a strong woman who battled with her Morphine addiction until she died free as the mountain air. A feat many who judged her by her actions could never do.


Throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr.Arthur Radley or better known as the malevolent phantom, Boo Radley is merely a source of childhood superstition for Jem, Scout, and Dill. It fascinated them. Rumors said that Boo went out only at night when the moon was down and peeped in windows. When people's azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. The rumors go on to associate any morbid nocturnal events such as mutilated chicken and household pets as Boo's handiwork. Even a Negro wouldn't pass the Radley place at night. Children in the small town of Maycomb believed Radley pecans could kill you and a baseball hit into the Radley yard was a lost ball, no questions asked. The neighbourhood tale goes that Boo stabbed his father with scissors while scrapbooking and resumed his activities like nothing happened thus furthering the misconception about him. Boo Radley wasn't human to the residents of Maycomb, but as Jem would describe him - a monster who dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch. His hands were bloodstained since he ate animals raw and had long jagged scars that ran across his face. With yellow, rotten teeth, eyes that popped and a drooling mouth, Boo Radley was the beast of Maycomb.

But, things are not often as they appear. Boo Radley left gifts such as some sticks of gum, a small box containing coins, a ball of twine, two figures carved from soap, an entire pack of gum, a spelling medal, and a pocket-watch in the knothole of a tree for Jem and Scout. In doing so, the reader learns the true character of Boo Radley.  A benevolent man whose gifts are a symbol of kindness and a desire to connect with the children. When he mends Jem's pants and neatly places them on the fence for him, he gradually becomes real to the children. He covered Scout unknownst to her with a blanket when it was cold outside during Miss Maudie's house fire incident which shows how compassionate and caring he is. Instead of judging him as an eerie eccentric man in his thirties, the reader sympathises with him for he is a victim of child abuse. Boo Radley was locked up in the house for fifteen years at the age of twelve and remains a child at heart. He appears as a monster to the community of Maycomb for not engaging in the outside world, but he is only afraid and innocent.

At the end of the novel, Boo displays the greatest act of heroism when he steps out of the safety of his home, risking his life to protect Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell and he becomes fully human to Scout. Boo, an intelligent child ruined by a cruel father, is one of the book’s most important mockingbirds; he is also an important proof that things are often not as they appear. Despite the pain that Boo has suffered, the purity of his heart rules his interaction with the children. In saving Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell, Boo proves the ultimate symbol of good.?

In conclusion, things are often not as they appear.  Mrs. Dubose was known as a gruesome, old miserable woman who's only passion was to criticize and demean others. In reality, she is an epitome of real courage as she battled with a Morphine addiction even if it meant dying. She firmly upheld her beliefs and was brave until the end of her life.

Similarly, Boo Radley appears to be a superstitious character from one's darkest nightmare. The whole Maycomb fears his existence and pictures him as an uncivilized, uncanny and grisly being.  In reality, he is a victim of neglect, parental ignorance, and abuse but despite that, he is a loving, compassionate and brave hero when he gives Jem and Scout presents, mends Jem's pants, clothes Scout with a blanket in the cold and most importantly, gave them their lives.

As can be seen in the lives of Mrs. Dubose and Boo Radley, appearances are often misleading. The novel gives us a perspective of the world through the eyes of a child in the twentieth century, yet the fundamental truth explored throughout the book remains the same in today's society, but it still needs repeating: Things are often not as they appear!

“One of the easiest things in life is to judge others. One of the simplest things we can ever do is to tell how wrong people are. One of the most foolish things we can ever do is to show people their faults unconstructively. It is always so easy and common to do such things but, before you do that, find the strange reasons for the crazy life. Yes! Before you do that, identify how to correct a broken life and before you do that, think of what drives and invokes the joy, slothfulness or the melancholy in people. Until you go through what people have been through until you experience what has become a part of people until you understand what drives the real interest of people and until you become acutely aware of the real vision, aspirations, desires and the needs of others, ponder before you criticize!”

— Ernest Agyemang Yeboah




Submitted: April 22, 2017

© Copyright 2021 Priscilla O.. All rights reserved.

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