Society in Odyssey and Mockingbird

The way society functions throughout history have been heavily influenced by The Odyssey, and more recently To Kill A Mockingbird. The Odyssey, by Homer, is about a man named Odysseus who is returning home to Ithaca after fighting heroically in the Trojan War. This epic poem tells the journey that took place as he was traveling back to his family. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee is told from the perspective of a little girl name Jean “Scout” Finch who is raised in Maycomb, Alabama.

Her father, Atticus Finch, is defending Tom Robinson, a black man wrongfully accused of raping a white woman in southern America. The foundation from which modern people interact with one another is challenged by The Odyssey and To Kill A Mockingbird because these two books demonstrate the need for heroic attributes within the individual as he or she interacts with different cultures, ethnicities, genders, and races.

Both The Odyssey and To Kill A Mockingbird influence the way people act and make decisions.

The Odyssey’s impact on the individual has been to empower oneself and to be noble; likewise, To Kill A Mockingbird reinforces the themes of empowerment and nobility but does so within American “lynching culture”. Lynching is executing someone without legal approval, primarily by hanging, which unfortunately affected many colored people throughout America’s history. These individual qualities of empowerment and nobility contribute to end discrimination and injustice in society, which consequently spreads equality. The Odyssey’s impact on the individual is to demonstrate the heroic attributes of empowerment and nobility within human action.

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Homer’s character Eumaios connects the idea of “togetherness” with the attributes of empowerment and nobility.

Eumaios, a slave owned by Odysseus’ father, exemplified nobility to Odysseus, empowering Odysseus during times of discouragement. Even though he was a slave, Eumaios displayed human action that was noble in nature, despite not being of the noble class. This nobility was born from Eumaios’ empowerment of Odysseus and his family. Likewise, Odysseus extends equality to the slave Eumaios, even though Odysseus was from nobility. The reciprocation of friendship between Eumaios and Odysseus demonstrates “togetherness” as both empowerment and equality. Timothy Freiermuth, the author of the “Nobility and Moderation in The Odyssey”, states, “Even the language that Eumaios chooses conveys a sense of togetherness . . . Homer underscores the value of moderation in all aspects of life as well as adding a new dimension to the values of home and human relations” .

“Togetherness”, or collaboration, is essential for the development of empowerment and nobility as being together can lead to new and better relations. The building of relationships brings new perspectives on how other people act and make decisions, leading to behaviors of inclusivity and equanimity; consequently, creating a more diversified view and an increased level to judge without bias. For example, in The Odyssey, Zeus remarks to Athena regarding Odysseus, “Now, how on earth could I forget Odysseus? Great Odysseus who excels all men in wisdom, excels in offering too he gives the immortal gods who rule the vaulting skies”. Zeus, the king of gods and men, describes how noble and empowering Odysseus is. This shows that Odysseus is noble and appreciated by many gods in the sky even though he is a mortal. The gods see him as one of them, creating equality between the mortal Odysseus and great gods like Zeus. Overall, throughout The Odyssey, the qualities of being noble and empowering were prominent as Odysseus took heroic actions such as defeating Cyclops and saving his men, even though it was almost certain death.

This highlighted the individual qualities of empowerment and nobility, while still spreading equality in many aspects. To Kill A Mockingbird further contributes to end discrimination and injustice in society., In her book To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee demonstrates discrimination and racism and the “lynching culture” of the southern states of America. To Kill A Mockingbird depicts a nobleman, Atticus Finch, who wants justice for one black man, Tom Robinson, who was wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. Although Atticus loses the trial to save Robinson, this story left an impact primarily on southern American society and culture to be noble, to be empowering, and to spread equality and justice to those suffering injustices. Steven Gillons, the author of “This Government Report Showed How Racism Was Dividing America 50 Years Ago”, argues that a Democratic Congress at the federal level will need 10 years to “solv[e] deeply embedded problems” in American society such as racism.

In To Kill A Mockingbird, while Atticus was talking to his daughter Scout about getting along with all types of people, Atticus states, ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it’. This quote demonstrates how the groundwork of The Odyssey and the individual qualities of empowerment and equality developed in Atticus. This quote emphasizes his belief of equality, which is illustrated when Atticus stands up nobly to injustice, which took place in the courtroom where Atticus lost the trial. Furthermore, the fight against segregation emphasized that all people are equal no matter the color of their skin. This shows that discrimination in America is thickly embedded in American history and continues today. As inequality is shown throughout America’s history, since that time there have been profound changes to end discrimination, which connects to the nobility of today’s Americans, as most Americans want to end discrimination and spread equality. Another way To Kill A Mockingbird still contributes to end discrimination and injustice in society is through activism.

Activism is the vehicle of social change, which occurs when a section/group of people are empowered to understand the inherent equality of all people. Activism is an act of justice, which campaigns against discrimination and other forms of injustice. Malcolm Gladwell, author of “The Courthouse Ring”, states, “Old-style Southern liberalism – gradual and paternalistic – crumbled in the face of liberalism in the form of an urgent demand for formal equality” (27). Gladwell defined liberalism by the use of activism. Moreover, activism was a hallmark in the way liberalism confronted injustice. This contributed toward ending discrimination and injustice by empowering people to stand up against the “lynching culture” in America. To Kill A Mockingbird reinforces the idea of fighting for what one believes in and standing nobly against the wrong.

Through activism many ideas of ending discrimination and injustice were created and implemented into American society, such as the Civil Rights Movement, ending of Jim Crow in the 1960s, and the progressivism era. Therefore, To Kill A Mockingbird spread equality throughout America and the rest of the world, which is influenced by the individual qualities of empowerment and nobility. Although The Odyssey is based on empowerment and nobility, some people rather disagree when it comes to the role of women and empowerment as supported by Homer’s The Odyssey. For example, Telemachus is enraged at his mother Penelope and states, ‘So mother, go back to your quarters. Tend to your own tasks, the distaff and the loom, and keep the women working hard as well. As for giving orders, men will see to that, but I most of all: I hold the reins of power in this house” . Typical of the literature from the era of The Odyssey, women were seen as irrational, illogical, and closely associated with the body and nature, whereas men were seen as logical, rational, and closely associated with the intellect and mind.

This develops the understanding of women’s role in The Odyssey, as empowerment of women is minimal throughout the book. In The Odyssey men always have the dominant power and women are supposed to be faithful/good to them; furthermore, even sons are dominated over their mother regardless if he says something disrespectful to his mother. The Odyssey displays women in primarily three main categories, which are disloyal, manipulative for their interests, and faithful/good women in society; however, all the women are unique in their intentions, personality, and relationships with men. Women’s role is primarily subjected into three categories, which completely contradicts the roles of women in today’s society. This is one of several reasons why people believe that The Odyssey is not about empowerment or nobility. Even though women’s role in The Odyssey may not be supported by empowerment and nobility; nonetheless, in today’s time, women have held empowering and noble roles in society. For example, Angela Merkel has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005 and her position is the most powerful position ever held by a woman.

In fact, today she is one of the most powerful people in the world, proving that the qualities of empowerment and nobility can transcend the male-dominated context of The Odyssey. On the one hand, The Odyssey focuses on the characteristics of an ennobled and empowered individual. On the other hand, To Kill A Mockingbird shows how an ennobled and empowered individual act like in society. Justice plays a silent, but a significant role in both these books as both protagonists are looking for some sort of justice, whether it’s by fighting in a war or defending a client in the courtroom. These individual qualities go hand-to-hand with the societal qualities as empowerment is used by standing up to injustices; likewise, nobility is used to create a more just society. Furthermore, The Odyssey provides the groundwork for books like To Kill A Mockingbird to develop. In addition, through the development of a hero in both stories, it contributes to the individual qualities of empowerment and nobility, which blends itself into the societal qualities of ending discrimination and injustice, ultimately leading to the spread of equality.

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Society in Odyssey and Mockingbird. (2022, Nov 14). Retrieved from

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