Abstract

https://ssrn.com/abstract=1713002
 


 



Walking in Another’s Skin: Failure of Empathy in to Kill a Mockingbird


Katie Rose Guest Pryal


Independent

November 21, 2010

HARPER LEE'S TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: NEW ESSAYS 174-189 (Michael J. Meyer, ed., Scarecrow Press, 2010)
UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1713002

Abstract:     
Empathy — how it is discussed and deployed by both the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird and by the author, Lee — is a useful lens to view the depictions of racial injustice in the novel because empathy is the moral fulcrum on which the narrative turns. In this essay, I argue that To Kill a Mockingbird fails to aptly demonstrate the practice of cross-racial empathy. As a consequence, readers cannot empathize with the (largely silent) black characters of the novel. In order to examine the concept of empathy, I have developed a critical framework derived from rhetorician Kenneth Burke's theory of identification and then used this framework to examine some ways in which empathy manifests itself in our legal system, manifestations that help reveal the failings of To Kill a Mockingbird.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 18

Keywords: Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird, rhetoric, Kenneth Burke, empathy, McCleskey v. Kemp


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Date posted: November 29, 2010 ; Last revised: October 21, 2013

Suggested Citation

Pryal, Katie Rose Guest, Walking in Another’s Skin: Failure of Empathy in to Kill a Mockingbird (November 21, 2010). HARPER LEE'S TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD: NEW ESSAYS 174-189 (Michael J. Meyer, ed., Scarecrow Press, 2010); UNC Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1713002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1713002

Contact Information

Katie Rose Guest Pryal (Contact Author)
Independent ( email )
United States
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