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A Room With a View by E. M. Forster January 1, 2010

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review.
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The cover of "A Room with a View" by E. M. Forster

Miss Lucy Honeychurch is a girl inexperienced in the world of love; but she’s soon to learn much more through an enchanting trip to Italy, where her journey is not only physical, but emotionally challenging too.

The plot of one of  E.M.Forster’s most famous novels follows young Lucy as she travels to Italy with her overbearing cousin, and discovers not only the world of renaissance art, living outside the rule book, and experiencing real life, but also the mysterious, working class George Emerson, and his father.

The book explores how Lucy, a very impressionalble girl with no opinions of her own, but a promising spirit develops as a character, growing a backbone, as well as a taste for real, hard, living love – and in this grows to love life. She explores a world of confusion and choices, where a whole cast of characters attempt to influence her in every decision she must make.

The style of the novel is also notable; in the way it voices the thoughts of many of the characters, but is always in third person and narrated by Forster. This brilliant subtlety allows the reader to know what the characters are thinking, and their motives, without their voicing obvious intentions or ideas which would be otherwise unrealistic.

Lucy’s character is well considered and her development is carefully tracked. Her flaw – of being without opinions and often without thought – is used to show her as real, but also to demonstrate it’s healing as she develops as a character.

Other characters are equally well written, from Mr Beebe, a hypocritical priest who, I feel, plays his role like a puppet master with Lucy on the strings, to George Emerson, the true love interest, written with no specific merit, other than his ability to love completely and passionately, and ask questions other men are too scared or ignorant to voice.

The novel seems to be tellinga story of romance, but with the message that one must live for the present, fully and passionately, and follow one’s heart to answer life’s questions, rather than simply following mindlessly, without independence, in the way previous generations had done.

The greatest flaw of the novel is the unnecessary length as Lucy takes an extremely long time to grow as a character and do something about her feelings once she has developed them. This leaves the reader growing irritated, as they know how the book will end in a fairy-tale classic way, but Forster’s style prevents the reader throwing the book down in exasperation.

The love story is not unique, but the journey Lucy follows is an almost unique representation of the awareness humans realise of living for the moment, and not simply for society.

In conclusion, this story is a reasonable love story, but with much more social commentary swirling in the undertones. It is definitely worth a read, but it’s dragging pace may lose the more demanding reader.

KJ
theBookGirl

The Trial Scene in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee August 24, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in To Kill a Mockingbird.
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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

The trial scene is the first climax of the novel, and this means it has much depth and meaning. This article is going to look at analysing this scene, but it’s going to be broken down into various sections.

Main Events

  • Mr Heck Tate gives his account of what happened
  • He describes the injuries
  • Bob Ewell gives his account of what happened
  • Ewell agrees with the description of the injuries Tate gave
  • Atticus asks Ewell if he can read and write, showing Ewell is ambidextrous.
  • Scout says “I thought Jem was counting his chickens” showing she is wiser in this case
  • Mayella Ewell gives his account of what happened
  • Atticus asks Mayella questions about herself, building up a picture of her neglect. He shows that Mayella doesn’t understand what love means, and it is implied Ewell has beaten her before.
  • Tom Robinson gives his account
  • Link Deas, Robinson’s employer, interrupts to back up Robinson
  • Atticus makes a final speech in Robinson’s defence

Characters’ Positions in Trial

Mr Heck Tate
Tate is neutral – he doesn’t say whether he thinks Robinson  is guilt or not, but simply tells what happened from his point of view. However, his language is very racist, and he easily believed Mayella’s word over Robinson’s. He also didn’t call for a doctor despite Mayella being so injured as he just was considering the evidence. It didn’t occur to him that Mayella may be in need of medical attention, or that a doctor would be called on to witness.

Tate’s account is that Bob Ewell ran to him and told him that Mayella was raped by Robinson, so he got in his car and went to the Ewell’s house, where he found Mayella lying on the floor. He helped her up and asked who had hurt her, and she claimed it was Tom Robinson. At this point Tate went to Robinson’s house and brought him back and arrested him. He didn’t call a doctor.

Bob Ewell
Ewell is clearly very against Robinson, but also seems against the world as a whole. Ewell is informal, bordering on obscene despite the Judge’s request, such as his description that “Mayella was screaming like a stuck hog”. He also says, very forcibly, “I seen that n***** yonder ruttin’ on my Mayella!” his language showing a disrespect for the court and taking credit away from his accusation. Ewell also didn’t bother to get a doctor, again showing a lack of care for the well being of his daughter.

Ewell’s account is that he was returning from chopping wood when he heard Mayella screaming. He dropped the wood and ran to Mayella but crashed into the fence and got caught in it. He then untangled himselfand went to the window to find Robinson raping Mayella. The room had clear evidence of a fight from the disruption to the furniture. Ewell ran into the house, but Robinson left. At this point Ewell went to Mayella rather than chasing Robinson. He then went for Tate.

Mayella Ewell
Mayella claims Robinson is guilty at first, but is reduced to tears after cross examination. Mayella is very scared of everything in the court, especially Atticus, which amuses Mr Gilmer. Jem believes Mayella is trying to make Judge Taylor feel sorry for her when she begins to cry, but Scout thinks she is just stupid.

Mayella is described as having a “stealthy” and “cat like” confidence making her seem sneaky and untrustworthy.

Mayella’s account is that she was on the front porch, doing nothing, when Robinson came along and she asked him to chop up a chiffarobe into kindling, because Bob Ewell asked her to do it, but she wasn’t strong enough (even this account shows neglect and bad parenting). She then went to get him a nickel to pay for the work, but when her back was turned he threw himself on her. He got her “round the neck, cussin’ me and sayin’ dirt – I fought ‘n’ hollered, but he had me round the neck. He hit me agin and agin-”

She screamed and fought back but she couldn’t remember much more, apart from her father coming in just before she fainted. She then remembered being helped up by Tate.

Tom Robinson
Robinson obviously knows he’s innocent, but he hides nothing from the court and tells them all relevant information. He knows he is a dead man walking but doesn’t let that intimidate him as he gives his evidence, and as he trusts Atticus.

Robinsons account is that Mayella has often asked him to do odd jobs for her, and he does this free of charge because he feels sorry for her. This causes the white society to be shocked and discriminate against him, because they feel it is impertinent for a black person to pity a white person. He went into her house, on the night in question, when she asked him to chop up a chiffarobe. He did as she asked, but she grabbed his legs when he was standing on a chair. This shocked him and caused the chair to fall over. She then tried to hug him and kissed him.

“She says she never kissed a grown man before…She says what her papa do to her don’t count. She says: “Kiss me back, n*****.””

He ran from the room, and then saw Bob Ewell in the window, who shouted,

“You god-damn whore, I’ll kill ya.”

He then just ran away, and he admits he was scared.

Evidence of Robinson’s Innocence

– Robinson cannot use his left hand, so wouldn’t be able to injure Mayella dominantly on her right side, but that is where she is injured.

– His account had alibis and corresponds with his general character

– Mayella had bribed her siblings to go away as she was expecting Robinson, and she was lonely. She wanted love.

– Mayella admits she was kissed and implies more, by her father, in Robinson’s account

– Link Deas, his employer, backs him up

Evidence of Bob Ewell’s Guilt

– Bob Ewell is ambidextrous, and he was the only person present with a strong enough use of a left hand to inflict the injuries Mayella suffered, or to strangle so strongly with both hands.

– Mayella can’t fully admit it was Robinson, and hesitates and hides information, implying Bob Ewell has beaten her.

The Black Community in To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee August 24, 2009

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

The black community are a major part of the novel, although only on the surface a small part of Scout’s world.

We are primarily introduced to the black community through Cal, who is a servant as most of the black community within the white society are in To Kill a Mockingbird. This sets up an image of servitude and inferiority, which Atticus fights hard against, in order for Jem and Scout to see that no matter what skin colour, all humans are equal. Of course, Atticus is successful in this, even if he does have to teach Scout why certain phrases are offensive – she doesn’t realise they are due to the general discrimination the white society has against the black society without a second thought.

The other major character we wee which represents the black community is Tom Robinson. He is a clearly innocent family man, accused of the rape of a “white trash” girl, and thus found guilty.

From the novel almost every member of the black community is admirable in their personalities and innocent in their nature, and this generalisation makes the crimes against the black community all the worse.

Chapter 12 gives the reader the widest view of the black community as it is based their church. This is where the reader realises just how badly the community is treated. The church is used as a location for gambling by white men, which is clearly disrespectful. Only four of the congregation can read. Lula is very offensive to the children, as a defence of the way the black people are treated by white.

These are all examples of how the black community is affected by the white community.

The black community as a whole is a very close congregation, as it has to be to survive the harsh treatment by the white community. The church means that the people are protected – for example the way Zeebo, the minister, forces the people to give donations to Tom Robinson’s wife in order to allow her to survive whilst Tom is in jail.

The community is also very religious, the church being the only one with a steeple in Maycomb. All the members of the community dress smartly and attend church and this thickens the support group.

Together they can silently fight the discrimination with each other’s support and the understanding of people like Atticus.

As a whole the black community are a mockingbird within the story – they are innocent and law abiding, helping the white community, yet the white community “shoot” them by treating them so badly.

This means the people who respect the black community, earn much respect in return, such as Atticus, who the black community stand for in gratitude for defending Tom and honour for being such a great man.

KJ
theBookGirl

The Character of Atticus in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee August 24, 2009

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch is arguably the single most important character in To Kill a Mockingbird, as he is the epitome of what the entire novel teaches.

Background

The reader knows that Atticus Finch grew up on Finch’s Landing with his family, but broke away from tradition and expectations to bcome a lawyer. Once he was successful in this he used his now more wealthy income to fund his brother – Jack Finch – in his quest to become a doctor.

Atticus then settled down with his wife and had two children – Jem and Scout – but his wife died just two years after Scout was born.

Atticus had hired Calpurnia and she now became the mother figure for the children and the voice of female reason keeping Atticus right when he needed a second opinion or help with the children. In many ways she played the role of a wife, although, of course, never in intimacy.

Atticus childhood shows that he had a strong moral character and determination in order to break the mould and become something that would make a difference rather than just staying on at Finch’s Landing as was expected. His compassion for Jack also shows the genuine generosity of Atticus’s nature, giving an early indication of a disposition of consideration and empathy.

Role

Atticus’ role throughout the novel is to show the ultimate accomplishment. Atticus is the ideal moral man, having a very high moral belief system. Atticus has achieved in his career, his relationships, and his happiness, and this makes him a role model to the children and the reader.

Atticus’ main role is as teacher. It his job as a father to bring Jem and Scout up to be admirable, respectable young adults, and he does this thoroughly, making certain they understand that money and power is worthless unless they can respect themselves.

Atticus teaches them the main lessons they need for life, in particular to stand in another persons shoes.

His success, at the end of the novel, can be shown by the quote “I thought Jem and I would get grown but there wasn’t much else for us to learn, except possibly algebra.” Said by Scout and showing that once Atticus had succeeded in teaching them major moral lessons, Scout acknowledged that actual knowledge which can be learnt from school, such as maths, is important but not in the same sense as understanding that discrimination is inexcusable is important.

Atticus is the conscience of the novel – he is the voice of reason that makes Scout and Jem stop and think, and he is the one they fear if they know they have been immoral.

Personality

Atticus’ personality is fairly complex, as he has to deal with a lot of pressure from other people. Atticus is always very solid in his decisions and does not doubt he has done the right thing even if others do. However, this does mean he often has to live with society disapproving and disrespecting him, making his life hard. Atticus is not afraid of taking the hard option, and he does so in a gentlemanly manner.

Atticus also cares greatly for his children, wanting only to do what is right for them, and to bring them up so they become young people who he can be proud of for being true to themselves and true to others.

Atticus can be critisized of holding his moral decisions as his highest priority – he puts defending Tom Robinson over the welfare of his children – but he is always aware of this and suffers greatly for doing the “right” thing.

Atticus’ noble conscious can be summarised when he explains why he decides tp defend Tom Robinson: “For a number of reasons,” said Atticus. “The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold my head up in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again…simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is not a reason for us not to try and win”

This shows that Atticus has determination, hope, and self respect, enviable by anyone, in his quest to be a person he can live with.

Influence

Atticus’ influence on the other characters is very heavy. Notably, he makes the jury think about their verdict for a full hour in representing Tom Robinson fairly. He also affects Jem and Scout’s lives, simply by teaching the right from wrong. Atticus is a very influential member of society, not from wealth or power but from hard-earned respect.

The society view Atticus as the most moral man, and the best chance Tom Robinson will have. He is well regarded as an honest, decent man, and the society, no matter how prejudiced and ignorant, deeply respect that,

Atticus is a perfect gentleman, gaining respect from the ladies of Maycomb. He is a talented and intelligent man, earning respect from the men of Maycomb. He is fair and equal, therefore receiving respect from the black community. He is thoughtful and clever and this makes him respected by the poorer members of the white community such as the Cunninghams.

The Theme of Education in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee August 24, 2009

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

The education system in Maycomb is very contradictory and almost backwards in some cases, and this makes a significant point in the ideas of the novel.

The fact that the very institution preparing the next generation for the future is flawed and teaches narrow mindedness (in the case of Scout being reprimanded for learning outside the school), only can forebode the next generation being just as prejudice and discriminative as the current one.

The theme of education runs throughout the novel, although not always based in the school. It initially shows Scout realising that school is not what she was looking forward to, as the teacher is patronising and sensitive, where as the children are intelligent and used to a harsher environment. Miss Caroline doesn’t understand the ways of the small town, and the small town doesn’t understand the ways of Miss Caroline, leading to a breakdown in communication and general progress and therefore preventing proper education taking place.

This is shown when Miss Caroline is reduced to tears by Bob Ewell’s son being rude, and frightened by a “Cootie”. It is also shown when she doesn’t realise why Walter Cunningham doesn’t want to borrow money, and punishes Scout when she tries to explain nicely. This basic lack of comprehension on each side makes the education system dubious at the very least.

The school is changing its system from when Jem was the age of Scout, and this does show that things are moving forward, but it also seems pointless as Jem is just as well educated as Scout – it seems it is more to do with your background and therefore family and upbringing, than the school. This is also shown by how everyone is generalised – the Ewells are thought of as stupid because they only go to school on the first day, and that’s how it’s always been.

The main education throughout the novel is in the form of lessons learnt from Atticus, and these lessons are the moral life lessons preparing the children for adult life when issues such as racism, discrimination and cruelty are part of a daily routine. This education prepares Jem and Scout to be good people; wise as well as intelligent, and this is what matters when they have the power of knowledge.

The theme of education also comes from Aunt Al teaching Scout to be a lady, Cal teaching the children to behave properly, and Miss Maudie explaining what the children are afraid to ask others.

KJ
theBookGirl

Lessons Learnt Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee August 24, 2009

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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

The lessons learnt throughout To Kill a Mockingbird are both many in number and deep in complexity, but they can be listed in summary. There are also two types of lessons learnt – what Scout and therefore the reader learns about Maycomb, and what Scout learns about how to live. This second option includes the real lessons learnt throughout the novel:

1)      Respect others
For example, Atticus always addresses Mayella as ma’am, despite the trouble she has put Tom Robinson in. Atticus believes that everyone should be shown courtesy and respect, and that is a basic human right.

2)      Be Open Minded
For example, Atticus wants Jem and Scout to stand in others shoes in order to prevent them from just thinking from the point of view of well-off, white children of good connections. It is also shown by how because the Radleys are different – they have their front door shut! – they are shunned from society, whereas Boo is just misunderstood.

3)      Protect the Innocent
This is Atticus’ entire job – as a lawyer it his duty to protect the innocent, and in this novel he has to defend Tom Robinson. This is one of the main points of why it is a “sin to kill a Mockingbird”. Atticus believes it’s important not to judge people, or treat them according to prejudices, and, over and above that, it is important to help those people discriminated against. This is what Scout learns about Boo, and why Heck Tate doesn’t arrest Boo at the end of the novel.

4)      Equality
Quite simply, everyone is equal as a human being, and that is why Cal can have authority over the children despite the racism issue.

5)      Moral Stances
This is a lesson Scout and Jem find very hard – that sometimes that taking the moral high ground means that you will be goaded and discriminated against, but that you still should “hold your head up high and be a gentleman”. This is shown when Jem rises to the bait of Mrs Dubose and consequently has to spend a month reading to her. The children learnt that there are always consequences for actions. They also learn that these consequences would be avoided if they realise the right thing to do in the first place.

KJ
theBookGirl

Brief Character Summary – To Kill a Mockingbird May 9, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Analysis, Essay, Harper Lee, Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird, Uncategorized.
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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird Cover

The following is a very short summary of the different characters (very useful for last minute revision notes):

Jean Louise “Scout” Finch- young girl and narrator of story. She learns many lessons throughout the novel, and grows up from a naive but perceptive child to a moral and strong young lady, acknowledging facts many adults failed to grasp.

Jeremy Atticus Finch – Scout’s older brother and friend. Jem is maturer than Scout and look out for her. He is very much like his Father, and teaches Scout when Atticus is absent. Jem is much quicker than Scout and has a role of authority and knowledge. She looks up to him, although likes to feel his equal.

Atticus Finch – Jem and Scout’s father. Atticus is a lawyer for the people of Maycomb and works very hard for justice and equality. He accepts people the way they are and has a very advanced set of morals for a resident in Maycomb at this time. Atticus is one of the few characters who is not racist, as shown by his defending Robinson.

Calpurnia – Maid and cook in the Finch household, Cal is really a surrogate mother to Jem and Scout, and holds joint authority with Atticus in that respect. She is loyal, kind and strong, having a great amount of respect for Atticus and affection for the children she keeps the family together through tough times.

Charles Baker “Dill” Harris – A companion of Jem and Scout, he becomes a very firm friend at the beginning of the novel. Dill has a huge imagination and the children spend much of their time playing games together. He also matures with Jem and excludes Scout when she sees the “right” thing to do instead of what they want to do. Dill is Scout’s fiancee at this young age.

Miss Maudie – Atticus’ friendly neighbour is another moral character who does as she likes and sees as right. She is very fond of the children and looks after them, and spoils them a little. Scout can always rely on her for help, advice and something to do.

Mrs Dubose – This is another neighbour of the Finch’s’ but she is constantly nasty to the children, and shouts at them from her porch. She is recovering from a heroine addiction, and this makes her nasty.

Aunt Alexandra – Aunt of Scout and Jem, sister of Atticus. Aunt Al believes in society, class and therefore is prejudiced and stereotypes.She interferes a lot in the upbringing of Jem and Scout, when she decides they aren’t being brought up well enough.

Tom Robinson – a chivalrous, honest black man who lives in the black community in Maycomb. He is accused of raping Mayella Ewell by Bob Ewell, despite evidence against this. Robinson is a mockingbird in the novel, and a victim of racism, discrimination and prejudice.

Bob Ewell – a white man in Maycomb, who spends all his money on drink, is a single father with many children, and who treats everyone badly.

Mayella Ewell – the white eldest daughter of Bob Ewell. She is lonely and desperate, unhappy with her life as a poor and disregarded woman, and in this loneliness turns to Tom Robinson, whom she tries to have a relationship with. Needless to say, Robinson does not tolerate this and refuses; but when she is faced with this she accuses him of rape, with encouragement of her father.

Arthur “Boo” Radley –  a neighbour of Scout’s who lives in a house in which the occupants very rarely come out of, especially not Boo. At the beginning of the novel he is regarded as the local “bogeyman”; someone to be feared with the tales of his insanity and violence. However, as the story develops it becomes clear that he is just lonely, and not allowed to communicate with society which makes him awkward and unused to people. He eventually turns out to be a hero and kind hearted man, who loves the children.

Miss. Caroline – Scout’s school teacher who does not understand the ways of Maycomb and ends up being taught by her pupils. Miss Caroline does not get on well with Scout as they had a bad start.

The Cunninghams – this is a family which is well known in Maycomb, they are self respecting and kind, but very poor.

Mr. Dolphus Raymond – a white man who spends his time with a black girl and their children. He pretends to be drunk constantly by drinking out of a bottle hidden in a paper bag, but it turns out that it is simply Coca Cola, and he just wants to live with the black girl without any hassle from the society.

Lula – a black woman who lives in Maycomb, and doesn’t want Scout and Jem to go to the black church one week because she is so bitter about the racism. She wants segregation but where black people have at least as many rights as whites.

Zeebo – a kind and well loved member of the black community who is both the minister in the black church and the garbage collector for the white community.

Uncle Jack – Scout and Jem’s uncle. He is a doctor and loves the children dearly, although he doesn’t understand children nor how to treat them. he uis usually a very good friend to Scout and Jem.

Francis – Scout  and Jem’s cousin. Francis has a narrow mind and cruelly torments Scout. He is filled with the prejudice and discrimination that Atticus has taught his children not to have.

Judge Taylor – a just and fair judge of Maycomb, who must be the judge in the Robinson case. He is assertive and attentive, whilst giving a relaxed and laid back impression which results in getting the truth whilst being in total command of the court.

Miss Stephanie Crawford – a busybody neighbour who makes it her business to know everything and pass it on. She is the town’s gossip.

Mr. Gilmer – Bob Ewell’s lawyer. He is clever and twists words, and plays off the fear Mayella has of Atticus to his advantage.

Sheriff Heck Tate – the sheriff of Maycomb. He is a good friend of Atticus and has command of the town. He is generally a good guy.

 

KJ
theBookGirlKJ

The theme of Family throughout To Kill a Mockingbird May 3, 2009

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To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird really doesn’t stop telling us about family. In the narrow minded world of Maycomb, famiyl is everything, and, according to Aunt Al, every family has a “streak”. 

Throughout the novel we see that some families never change – for example every generation of Ewells so far have been pitiful excuses for people, living in a dirty environment and uncaring about education or getting a better life. Comparitively, many generation of Cunningham have been hoonest and worked hard to make the most of their land, despite their lack of money.

Other families have changed, mainly the Finch’s. Atticus broke free from the stereotype of his family when he moved to Maycomb, away from Finch Landing, and he got a respectable well paid job as a lawyer, paid for his brother to learn medicine, and then brought his children up with a black servant as their surrogate mother.

Aunt Al is the main character who highlights the stereotypes of the various families, and when she comes to live with Atticus, Scout, Jem and Cal, all of this is brought to the notice of Scout.

“There was indeed a caste system in Maycomb, but to my mind it worked this way: the older citizens, the present generation of people who had lived side by side for years and years, were utterly predictable to one another: they took forgranted attitudes, character shading, even gestures, as having been repeated in each generation and refined in time. Thus the dicta No Crawford Minds His Own Business, Every Third Merriwater Is Morbid, The Truth Is Not in the Delafields, All Bufords Walk Like That, were simply guides to daily living”

  The way that this society is set so strongly in stone means that it isnt moving forward as the rest of the world is; it is set in old superstitions and stereotypes without thinking of moving on to a more open minded way. 

This is a very strong factor when it comes to the Tom Robinson case – he is instantly guilty because he is black and therefore a lower class citizen. It also means that the Ewells are known for all their disgraceful behaviour and unlawful habits, but this isn’t even taken into account because that is just how they are.

This also shows how the society never seems to be able to move forward, and is demonstrated in the children’s initial and irrational fear and curiosity of Boo Radley, which is encouraged by the older generation (such as when Miss Stephenie Crawford tells the tale of Boo’s father’s death to the children).

However, hope still remains where the younger generations are concerned – Scout and Jem rebel against these prejudices as the story continues, and they learn throughout the course of the novel that these prejudices are unfounded, especially where the black community is concerned.

In conclusion, much of the story is based around family, but this is mostly just stereotyping by the judgmental people of Maycomb.

KJ
theBookGirlKJ

To Kill A Mockingbird – Advantages and Disadvantages of a Child Narrator May 2, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Analysis, Essay, Harper Lee, Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird.
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To Kill a MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird is written from the point of view of Scout, sometimes this is an “older” Scout, who is looking back on the events and can give a lot more detail or understanding upon a certain event. Usually, however, it is a “young” Scout, who is the age that she is during that event.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to the narration of the young Scout, and either way, Harper Lee has managed to overcome to disadvantages and work with the advantages extremely well, as shown in the popularity of the novel.

A clear advantage is that we understand things as Scout understands them, and things are explained to us when they are to Scout. For example, Atticus and Jem have to teach her the rules and customs of Maycomb regularly, which a reader who isn’t from this small town in Alabama may not know (such as, screen doors only shut when there is illness, the Radley tree having “poison” fruit, the boundaries where Scout and Jem can play, the white society’s views on the black community).

Also when Scout experiences things for the first time, the reader does too, and gets a full description, such as in chapter 12 when Jem and Scout have to go to Cal’s church and they learn about how only 4 of the congregation can read, and that Zeebo, the garbage collector is the vicar. They also experience the bitterness some members of the black community have for the white community such as Lula.

Another advantage is that because the story is told when Scout IS that age, the reader can really get into the story and understand how Scout perceives everything, whilst appreciating how perceptive she is and also noticing the things she is ignorant of, which can explain many attitudes people had to the black community.

A further advantage is how so often Scout can be juxtar posed with other characters who are stereotypical, racist or otherwise less moral than Scout. These characters are usually older than Scout and have much more power and influence, showing the reader the general problems with the older generations being biased and prejudiced and therefore harming the “Mockingbirds”.

Scout is also a fairly neutral character as she doesn’t have any of this prejudice and this means the reader is able to see the events as they truly happened, as young Scout does not prejudice about the things that happen in her thoughts as she is still learning and hasn’t had enough experience to even think about discriminating as the main influence she has is of her father who is also a very moral man.

Also, the use of foreboding and metaphor through Scout’s childhood games and minor experiences means that the more significant events (such as the verdict of the court case) can be seen as it really is, and Scout can learnt to see it from an easier way of understanding it. 

The only disadvantages I can see are that Scout can become confused and her loss at what is going on can possibly confuse the reader as it isn’t that clear compared to how it could be if a maturer narrator was used. 

Also there isn’t so much force or power of emotion during the discrimination during as an older narrator has. Personally, I prefer to really feel how the characters feel, but Scout doesn’t always understand fully and therefore feel fully the consequences of the prejudices. 

In conclusion there are far more advantages in this case of having a young narrator, but these are only applicable because Harper Lee has managed to portray it well; in a very high quality narration.

KJ 
theBookGirl KJ

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