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The Character of Atticus 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

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.

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The Theme of Education 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 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

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

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren May 7, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in review.
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Pippi Longstocking CoverMany, many people think Pippi Longstocking is just a children’s book. Is strongly disagree. I, personally, find it remarkably funny and quite hilarious. In fact, I see Pippi as a role model as how all adults should look to their inner child to behave. Although maybe we shouldn’t play tag with policemen or try to lift up a horse.

“Pippi Longstocking is nine years old. She lives in Villa Villekulla with a horse, a monkey, and a big suitcase full of gold coins. 
She spends her days arranging adventures to enjoy with her neighbours, Tommy and Annika, or entertaining everyone she meets with her outrageous stories
Pippi thinks nothing of wrestling a circus strongman, dancing a polka with burglars, or tugging a bull’s tail!” 

The story follows Pippi as she goes about her everyday life which is filled with adventures. 

The reason why I love Pippi Longstocking is it is written in a way which universally understood and humorous.  Her adventures are simple and tell the tale of a girl who is strong in self confidence but not arrogant; who believes in herself, but also in her friends; who never gives up hope and always has a cheerful attitude. She has her priorities right and knows the importance of friendship, hope, love, trying new things, being logical, and, most of all, having fun.

I suppose there are a few limitations in the stories such as the lack of realism (no girl would be allowed to live alone, even if she causes as much trouble as Pippi) or the bad image it gives to children (should her disruptive behaviour in class be tolerated? her disrespect for adults allowed? her use of violence to sort out bullies promoted?) but saying this, it is just a story and shouldn’t be read into. It was originally published in 1945, and anyone can see any “bad influences” it may have encouraged would have been evident in that time.

In summary, it is a beautiful book which everyone could learn a lesson from, is is well worth the read.

KJ
theBookGirl

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

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