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Standing in a Persons Shoes – To Kill A Mockingbird May 1, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Analyse, GCSE, History, KJ, read, theBookGirl, To Kill a Mockingbird.
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To Kill a MockingbirdThe best way to understand a person is “to stand in his or her shoes”. How does the author effectively illustrate this point in the novel?

To Kill a Mockingbird is arguably the journey that Scout Finch makes growing up, which is essentially her journey of learning new values, morals and compassion through experience and practice.

 

Standing in a person’s shoes is one of the first things Atticus explains to Scout in the novel, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb in his skin and walk around in it.” This is said in chapter three. Atticus is explaining how the things that went wrong on her first day of school (Miss Caroline finding Scout impertinent for correcting her, speaking bluntly about the pupils and being able to read, as well as the episode with Walter Cunningham) could have been avoided or at least made better.

Despite the early introduction to this lesson, Scout doesn’t fully understand it, or at least learn it, until the very last chapter when she finally meets Boo Radley, and stands on his porch thinking about the compilation of events which make up the book, from Boo’s point of view, “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.” This shows the understanding Scout has finally had of the way people are perceived and the way they actually are. It shows that she has learnt what many people in their life never learn – to have empathy for others. This then puts Scout, still a child really, in a position where she is much wiser than many of the residents of Maycomb who did not put themselves in any of the “Mockingbirds’” shoes during the course of events of the story. If, for example, the white community had honestly put themselves in Tom Robinson’s shoes he would have been found not guilty (or at least he may have had more hope for the appeal and not tried to escape from the jail). If they had stepped in Mayella’s shoes they may have found that Bob Ewell was really the guilty one, or that her evidence really can’t be used at all against Robinson.

A significant character, who is prejudged by the children before they stepped in her shoes, is Mrs. Dubose. As a recovering drug addict she is most definitely nasty, malicious, harsh and opinionated to say the least, but the children only observe this without understanding why. During chapter eleven (the last chapter before Jem has significantly started to grow up, and possibly the catalyst for this) Jem gets fed up of the taunts Mrs. Dubose makes at him about Atticus defending Tom Robinson, amongst other things. He loses sight of his noble aim to “hold hid head high and be a gentleman” and reacts by breaking the stems of all the flowers in Mrs. Dubose’s garden. Clearly this action has its consequences and in this we see how courageous Mrs Dubose is being, trying to give up the drug straight off. If Jem had understood and thought about this before reacting to her, he would have not have been forced to read to her for this reason, and he would have felt more compassion towards her than he did.

Another case of Atticus reiterating his point about seeing things from someone else’s perspective is when Jem makes a snowman to look like Mr Avery in chapter 8. Jem is very proud with his creation, “‘It’s lovely Jem,’ I said… ‘It is, ain’t it?’ he said shyly” this shows how Jem is very pleased with the likeness of the snowman, and is looking at it from the perspective of himself, as an artist. However, when Atticus sees it he says, “‘You can’t go around making caricatures of the neighbours’” and when Jem disagrees that it is a caricature, Atticus replies, “‘Mr Avery might not think so.” Showing that Atticus always sees it from everyone’s point of view. He is tactful, complimenting Jem first, but he makes sure that Jem does sort it out before it can actually hurt Mr Avery. This shows the consistency of Atticus’ morals and of the lessons which Scout and Jem need to learn as they grow up. It also shows how Atticus is always considerate and understanding of everyone, perhaps an aspect to him which makes him such a great lawyer.

An interesting example of standing in someone’s shoes is when Boo stands in Scout’s shoes. His care and concern for her (and Jem) is evident throughout the novel, such as in chapter 8 when Boo puts a blanket around Scout, “Boo Radley. You were so busy looking at the fire you didn’t know it when he put the blanket around you” This shows that Boo looks after the children, and this could be interpreted as standing in Scout’s shoes as the reader can see that he is thinking what it must be like from her point of view, and then doing what he can to help her, which people who talk to her and live with her don’t think of doing. This is especially prominent in the last chapter when Scout stands on his porch and she realises how he has watched “his children” – Jem and Scout – over the course of the novel. At the beginning of the novel, Scout and Jem don’t stand in Boo’s shoes, automatically believing the gossip surrounding the Radley’s place.  

Another example of standing in someone’s shoes is in chapter 12 when Jem and Scout are at Calpurnia’s church. They have the opportunity to actually stand where Cal does each week and experience a part of her life away from the white community. In this chapter they learn a lot about how the black community lives and this helps them understand the importance of Tom Robinson being found not guilty. “You all know of Brother Tom Robinson’s trouble…the collection taken up today and for the next three Sundays will go to Helen – his wife, to help her out at home.” This shows that the black community are thinking about Tom and Helen’s predicament and are stepping in their shoes and working out the best way to help them. The white community do not do this and only see Robinson as a member of the black community instead of an innocent husband and father. Here Jem and Scout also experience this community spirit and united support which is unusual to them as they are used to the white community’s gossip and scandals. This builds upon the lesson Atticus teaches them.

The white community already assume Tom Robinson is guilty, as he is black, and Helen is guilty by association, as she will not be able to get work and look after her children. If the white community were to stand in Helen’s shoes they would realise that it is not her fault even if Tom Robinson were guilty. Likewise, if the white community stood in the black community’s shoes like Jem and Scout did for the morning, they would probably have far less prejudices than they actually have.

Mayella’s shoes are never stepped in by the community. Her lies are half-swallowed even when all evidence contradicts them, but she is never pitied by anyone apart from the most compassionate characters, such as Tom Robinson, and this only angers the white community further, “You felt sorry for her? You felt sorry for her?” This shows how incredulously the statement is considered and how unexpected it is for a member of the black community (no matter who it is) to pity a member of the white community. This could be seen as Tom Robinson recognising another Mockingbird and wanting to help her, but is more likely just that Robinson is a kind and innocent character who wants to help people no matter what the risk, much like Atticus. Ironically it is partially this which finally causes Robinson’s guilty verdict.

Mayella is thought of as just “white trash” but when her shoes are actually stepped in, it can be seen that she is actually a lonely, unloved young girl who wants company and to be wanted herself. If someone had recognized this and actually acted upon it, helping her to become a distinguished lady, such as Scout will have the opportunity to become, it may have ultimately saved Tom Robinson’s life as she would not have introduced the whole problem with the “love” between the black man and white girl.

 Hope this was useful

KJ
theBookGirl KJ

 

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Looking for JJ by Anne Cassidy April 27, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, GCSE, girl, KJ, Mystery, read, recommendation, review, theBookGirl, Young Adult.
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Looking for JJ“Three children walked away from the cottages on the edge of the town towards Berwick Waters. Later that day only two of them came back…”

Looking for JJ is a book which has stayed with me for years, I first picked it up when I was about 13, looking for something new and different in my local library and found the exciting new world of Young Adult. That’s where I cam across a beautiful book which on the inside flap read:

“Alice Tully knows exactly what happened that spring day six years ago – though it’s still hard for her to believe it’s real. The images, the sounds and the aftermath are imprinted on her memory. She’ll never be able to forget, even though she’s trying to lead a normal life – she has a job, friends and a boyfriend whom she adores. She’s making a go of things, putting her past behind her at last. But Alice’s past is dangerous, and violent, and sad – and it’s about to rip her new life apart

A  gripping and emotionally searing novel from an accomplished author. Anne Cassidy has tackled a terrifying subject with subtlety and imagination – Looking for JJ will not let you go.”

That blurb captivated me straight away, and as soon as I got home I just read and read and read. A few years later I came across it again whilst volunteering in Oxfam. I immediately bought it, remembering how much I loved it, and read it over the next few days; impressed that it wasn’t just good to a tween. 

The book covers the story of Alice Tully, a girl who has to face the usual uncertainties and problems in life which everybody has…but with the added difficulty of a horrific past. She has deep problems and conflicts rooted from the past, which she has to try to overcome.

It’s an epic story of beating the odds, survival in an unforgiving world and being misunderstood. It deals with living with the consequences of your actions and not being able to sorry to the person you hurt. 

This book really does absorb you, the reader, and also makes you really consider everything you do, and the actions.

Bad points, I suppose, are that some areas of Alice’s life could be developed a little more, so we see mor eof who she really is. Also, without writing a spoiler,  I was a little disappointed with the ending because it didn’t quite seem to fit with Alice’s personality.

I’d definitely recommend this to anyone who is interested in a crime novel, filled with chilling secrets and uncertainties. If you want to read something deep which can still communictae with you on a more basic level, this is definitely the way to go. 

Be warned, throughout this story I did need tissues.

KJ
theBookGirl

KJ Reading  

To Kill A Mockingbird Theme: Lessons Learnt – Chapters 1 and 2 April 27, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Analyse, book, books, GCSE, girl, History, KJ, read, reading, review, the, theBookGirl.
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To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird explores loads of themes, but one of the first ones it goes into are the lessons which Scout and Jem (and often Dill) learn, especially during the first part.

The first notable lesson that Scout learns is that school life is very different from homelife and that she has to act differently there. 

The education system in Maycomb is poor, and Scout is told not to read anymore at home because the she learns is wrong. This makes Scout distraught and absolutely hate school, and leads her to find different ways to get out of going. “miss.Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me anymore, it woyuld interfere with my reading” This shows that the education system was flawed.

Scout also learns that although Miss Caroline is the authority, Scout knows more about the ways of the people in Maycomb, and also is very perceptive. This is demonstrated when Scout has to explain to Miss Caroline why Walter Cunningham cannot accept the money for his lunch.

The reader learns how Maycomb works, the way the poorer parts of soceity pay Atticus and the rules of the playground, through Scout.

This concludes the lessons learnt in the first two chapters.

KJ
TheBookGirlKJ

Marley and Me by John Grogan April 21, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, KJ, read, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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The cover of the bestselling book

The cover of the bestselling book

I recently read Marley and Me which is a fabulous book and definitely worth reading (http://www.johngroganbooks.com/marley/index.html). I hadn’t really heard about it until I saw the trailer for the new film (http://marleyandmemovie.com/) in the cinema, and my friend told me how amazing it was. As a total animal lover, I leapt at the chance when she offered to lend me the book. 
The blurb on the book reads:
“John and Jenny were just beginning their life together. They were young and in love, with a perfect little house and not a care in the world. Then they bought home Marley, a wiggly yellow fur ball of a puppy. Life would never be the same. Marley quickly grew into a barrelling, ninety-seven pound steamroller of a Labrador retriever, a dog like no other. He crashed through screen doors, gouged through drywall, flung drool on guests, stole women’s undergarments, and ate nearly everything he could get his mouth around, including couches and fine jewellery. Obedience school did no good – Marley was expelled. Neither did the tranquilisers the veterinarian prescribed for him with the admonishment, ‘Don’t hesitate to use these.’ And yet Marley’s heart was pure. Just as he joyfully refused any limits on his behaviour, his love and loyalty were boundless, too. Marley shared the couple’s joy at their first pregnancy, and their heartbreak over the miscarriage. He was there when babies finally arrived and when the screams of a seventeen-year-old stabbing victim pierced the night. Unconditional love, they would learn, comes in many forms. The heartwarming and unforgettable story of a family in the making and the wondrously neurotic dog who taught them what really matters in life. For lovers of Tuesdays with Morrie, The Year of Magical Thinking, and even, of course, dogs! “
This book instantly drew me in straight from the preface. It is brutally honest about every event which takes place…and the events and adventures this book travels through are just phenomenal. Any dog owner will have hundreds of funny stories to tell you about their naughty dog, but I think Grogan must take the medal for telling his stories in this funny, personal way.
The book is written on a very informal level and is filled with short factual references about dogs and other features of the story which were interesting (although they did interrupt the flow).
Grogan has written this very well, allowing the reader to enter into his world and family life, whilst keeping Marley as the focus point throughout the novel.
As it travels through the life of Marley, as the reader you become extremely attached to the crazy dog, and you feel a mixture of pity and jealousy for Grogan as the owner and responsibility for this dog.
This book, I can guarantee, will make you laugh until you cry, and cry yourself to sleep. It is truly an emotional rollercoaster, but is definitely worth the ride as it gives such a profound understanding of dog behaviour it is impossible not to fall in love with Marley.
The bad points, which I suppose I should include, may be that Grogan gives the reader just enough information about other things happening in the story (such as the birth of his children, and the natures of his work) to get you to want to know more but then returns to Marley without giving the informatio n you sought. THis isn’t necessarily a criticism, in fact it is rather clever, whilst allowing him to keep a distance from the reader, but it is frustrating when you are reading the book.
Overall, this is a beautifully written book full of charm and laugh out loud humour. It’s definitely worth a read, although I advise a box of tissues! 
KJ
theBookGirlKJ Reading

To Kill a Mockingbird March 12, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, books, GCSE, History, KJ, read, reading, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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Ok, I had a sort of lapse in attention to this blog after the first 2/3 posts because I’m currently in the middle of my G.C.S.Es and some other stuff.
Anyway, I’m going to keep you updated on books AFTER the exams, but as I have to study books for my English Lit I might as well give you a breakdown on those books.
The books I have to study are To Kill a Mockingbird and An Inspector Calls. However, I’m only going to blog about TKAMB because it’s much more interesting (in my opinion), as well as being a novel as opposed to  a play.
So, for those of you living under stones in some corner of the universe, I will give a breif outline of the plot.
TKAMB is written from the point of view of a little girl called Scout, who lives in a small town called Maycomb, Alabama, with her older brother, Jem, her father; a lawyer named Atticus, and their servant and cook, Calpurnia, who is really the serrogate mother for the children. 
The story follows the adventures of Scout and Jem, and their friend Dill, as they begin to grow up, learn lessons and go through a journey which makes them the generation which changed attitudes towards racism.
The story moves from the begining of Scout’s school days, through the games which she plays with Jem and Dill, especially in trying to get the local Bogeyman; Arthur “Boo” Radley to come out of his house; moving on to learning morals; which leads to the climax with a courtcase about a black man raping a white woman. 
This story is memorable and actually manages to make the reader think and reassess their morals. It seems to me people expect the literature they are examine don to be dry, long and hard, but TKAMB is different (even if the name takes too long to write out in full). It addresses historic situations whilst retaining the level where one can relate to the characters.  This way we understand what’s happening with a wise assurance, but remember what Scout learns for ourselves.
TKAMB explores themes and stereotypes, investigating the typecasting which happens in places like Maycomb, where it is assumed everyone must have a “streak” of some sort from being a member of a certain family. 
The next few posts are going to be looking at some of the themes, and maybe exploring the different characters. I should be updating tomorrow, so it should all be good 🙂
KJ
theBook Girl KJ

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas March 10, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, books, KJ, read, reading, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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Heya,

Now, as you may know, I rarely read just one book at a time, and recently I have been lent The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. 
This is a film which I have never seen because I wanted to read first, and now I can read the book. However, as I have not seen the film I’m going into the book blind, as it orgininally was.This means I will be reviewing The Devil Wears Prada, and possibly comparing it to the film, and silmultaneously reviweing The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas as a first time experience. 
The blurb on this book is:
The story of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is very difficult to describe. Usually we give some clues about the book on the cover, but in this case we think that would spoil the reading of the book. We think it is important that you start to read without knowing what it is about.
If you do start to read this book, you will go on a journey with a nine year old boy called Bruno (though this isn’t a book for nine year olds). And sooner or later you will arrive with Bruno at a fence. Fences like this exist all over the world. We hope you never have to cross such a fence.
So, that’s all I know about the book and the story in general. My first impression is that the fence is probably a metaphor for troubling things and forbidden things, which should not be forbidden. It also has probably got a physical meaning too, although it is likely to only be fabricating the metaphor.
KJ
theBookGirl 

The Devil Wears Prada March 8, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, books, KJ, read, recommendation, review, theBookGirl.
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Hello,

I have finally decided to read something not Twilight related for the first time since Christmas (after reading the series three times in a row, only stopping for half a day in order to read Double Cross, the latest in Noughts and Crosses, it really is time to remind myself of the other books out there), and the lucky book is A Devil Wears Prada. 
I have seen the film of this book many, many, many times, but I have always felt absolutly awful for not reading the book, as it goes against my rigid law of never seeing a film before reading the book, as the book is ALWAYS better. Now, I have finally got round to buying the book, so I’m pretty excited to see how it fares in comparison to the film.
After about twenty minutes of being sucked in I’ve finished two chapters (look at me go!) and I’m already being drawn back to it, despite my need to do my GCSE coursework (and therefore letting myself get distracted by telling you all about this).
So, here’s the basic plot, as written on the blurb:

 High fashion, low cunning – and the boss from hell
When Andrea first sets foot in the plush Manhattan offices of Runway she knows nothing. She’s never heard of the world’s most fashionable magazine, or its feared and fawned-over editor, Miranda Preistly.
Soon she knows way too much.
She knows it’s a sacking offence to wear less than a three inch heel to work – but there’s always a fresh pair of Manolos in the accessories cupboard.
She knows eight stone is fat. That you can charge anything – cars, manicures, clothes, to the Runway account, but you must never leave your desk, or let Miranda’s coffee get cold. That at 3am, when your boyfriend’s dumping you because you’re always working and your best friend’s just been arrested, if Miranda phones with her latest unreasonable demand, you jump.
Most of all, Andrea knows that Miranda is a monster boss who makes Cruella de Vil look like a fluffy bunny. But this is her big break, and it’s all going to be worth it in the end.
Isn’t it?
Now, too me, this blurb is pretty good and makes me want to start reading right away. The only problem I can see in it is it might give a little bit too much away, but having seen the movie, I know the general plot anyway…
KJ 
theBookGirl

Introduction March 8, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in book, books, Breaking Dawn, girl, introduction, KJ, read, reading, recommendation, review, the, theBookGirl.
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Hello Lovely People of the World*,

I happen to love books, because they’re like little portals of magic in which you can escape and forget about everyday life and instead be whoever and wherever you want to be. 

It’s a hobby in which I get totally absorbed, to the point of obsession, and so I have decided whilst I love reading so much, I should do reviews, recommendations and general, you know, mini-essays, I suppose, on books I’m reading or possibly have read. 

One of the great things about books is that you ca pick them up whenever, and as long as they aren’t to thick, like Breaking Dawn, you can take them anywhere with you. They’re just so reliable!

Anyway, so that is my little introduction, and very soon I intend on following it with an actual titbit of useful information. I’m also going to work on setting up a Youtube channel on which I will review books in a more interesting way.

KJ
(theBookGirl)


*You’re lovely for reading this, intentionally or not