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Exam and Revision Advice June 1, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Revision.
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For those of you sitting exams right now, I have a little advice in case your panicking:

  1. Having revised as much as possible, do not do revision the day before the exam – it’ll just make you panic!
  2. If you have time on the day of the exam go over very breif notes, but don’t stress about it
  3. Don’t go near your friends who are doing the exam if you can help it – chances are they’ll be panicking as much as you and that will multiply if you’re together
  4. The night before, do something you enjoy: relax, read a book, watch a film, just don’t stay up late revising!
  5. If you know you haven’t revised enough, take a deep breath and calm down. You need to concentrate – if you have an English exam, don’t try learning 35 quotes, an A4 description of each character and all the subplots… pick out a quote per character and per theme. Have a bullet point on each theme, plot, character and point of notice, and learn these. In the exam you can build on it. 
    If it’s a different subject, like geography, just summarise the main points from each topic onto a postcard and learn that…it’s never too late to learna sentence!
  6. Writing stuff out helps me remember stuff, but so does making posters, or making post it notes, or telling my friends, or talking to myself, or making up hand movements. What I’m saying is, shut your door and be a fool if it helps -just do what makes you remember things! I relate stuff I learn to my favourite books which calms me down and helps me remember!
  7. Breathe. Breathing is really important.
  8. If people are interfering, or fussing when they’re just trying to help, explain calmly and let them know or they’ll never stop. But don’t let it get to you.
  9. Before you pick up your pen in the exam take a few deep breaths and read the questions – don’t answer a question it doesn’t ask you!
  10. Finally, plan ahead – if you’ve left it too late for an exam tomorrow don’t waste your time repeating stuff you’ll never learn – move on to revise the stuff for the day after!

I hope this helps!

Good luck to all of you!

You may have noticed a lack in postings but that’s because of my own exams – I only have 2 weeks left and then I’m all yours! Next reviews are to be on Mansfield Park, Little Women, a comparison between Angels and Demons book and film and maybe a review on Beauty.

KJ
theBookGirl

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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 – 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

 

To Kill A Mockingbird Theme: Lessons Learnt – Chapter 3 April 28, 2009

Posted by KJ theBookGirl in Analyse, book, GCSE, History, KJ, theBookGirl.
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To Kill a MockingbirdChapter three starts with Scout learning from Jem that she shouldn’t pick fights with people smaller than her, no matter what has provoked them “Let him go, Scout” this shows Jem’s authority and role of teacher and role model when Atticus is not present. 

Scout therefore learns about consequences of her actions and that she should not harm others. She learns this in Jem inviting Walter Cunningham home for lunch in order to make up for the fight and to help him where he would otherwise go hungry, teaching Scout about being charitable whilst allowing people to maintain their pride.

Scout also learns there are different things which people know and that people can be intellectual in many ways, “Atticus greeted Walter and began a discussion about crops that neither Jem nor I could follow” This shows that Scout is continuously learning, and still ignorant of much in the world.

The next lessons Scout learns is very significant – she learns that you should always respect everybody and their ways, even if you disagree with them.

Walter poured syrup on his vegetables and meat with a generous hand. He proabably would have poured it into his milk glass had I not asked what the sam hill he was doing…he quickly put his hands in his lap. Then he ducked his head… it was then that Calpurnia requested my presence in the kitchen.”

This is the course of action which leads Scout to realise that what she has done is wrong, and to understand the lesson.

” ‘He ain’t company, Cal, he’s just a Cunningham -‘
‘Hush your mouth. Don’t matter who they are…'”

This conversation/correction is the lesson which Scout learns, and is present throughout the book. IT doesn’t matter that Tom Robinson is black, or a lower class citizen or does things differently. He’s still a human living in the same time and place as Scout and the community she lives in, and that’s enough to qualify him for equality. Or at least this is what Atticus and the more moral citizens believe.

“Calpurnia sent me through the swinging door to the dining room with a stinging smack” 

This is the consequence of Scout’s actions, and Cal’s way of ensuring she learns from it and doesn’t act so disgracefully again.

Scout then learns that Cal has much more authority than she has, and that her father is an united front with the servant.

“I…suggested that Atticus lose no time in packing her off. …Atticus’s voice was flinty. ‘I’ve no intention of getting rid of her now, or ever.We couldn’t operate a single day without Cal”

This allows the reader to notice that Atticus is equal to all, whether they work for him, or are his family, whether they are black or white. It also teaches Scout that she is not in a position to treat anyone badly, especially not the ones trying to teach her and bring her up properly. 

A lesson which the reader sees demonstrated through the eyes of Scout, is that money does not qualify somebody to be desirable company.

“Little Chuck Little…didn’t know where his next meal was coming, but he was born a gentleman”

This display of manners is something which all people should aspire to possess, but is something which precious few of the character sin this book do have, and the majority of the people who DO have them are the younger generation, perhaps indicating that the jury of Robinson’s case may not have succeeded, but jurys of the future will be much more open minded.

 

Scout now learns that although she has flaws, her family -Atticus, Jem and Cal – all appreciate her and love her. 

“Calpurnia bent down and kissed me”

This display of emotion allows Scout to remember that although things can be tough, she always has her family there to help her. This is the total opposite with the Ewell’s where the father spends his time drinking, Mayella has to be the mother figure, and none of the children get education, help, care, love or even adequet food. This may be one of the main factors which leads Mayella to cause so much trouble for Tom Robinson. She is lonely, where Scout can never be.

 The next lesson learnt is arguably the key lesson in the entire book.

“You never really understand a person until you see things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”

This lesson is putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and this use of apathy is what makes Atticus such a great lawyer, and what has, arguably, taught generations to acept others because they could be the same position. It teaches Scout to look past the surface and really understand who the person is and what they really are.

Scout learns next that there are people who aren’t nice,

“They were people, but they lived like animals”

This shows how people, like the Ewells, can have the opportunity to be equals in society – they are white and they have land – but they do not appreciate this and therefore should be outcasts in society. However they are still above the black community and are given special priveleges instead (they’re allowed to hunt game off season and the children only have to go to school the first day of every year, but they still get the opportunity to, unlike the black children).

Scout now learns what a compromise is,

“And agreement reached by mutual concessions… if you’ll…go to school, we’ll go on reading”

This compromise allows Scout to enjoy her hobbies, as well as teach her that although she can’t always get her way there is always something she can do to make it better. 

Finally Scout learns that ignoring people can be the solution to the problem,

Atticus said that if I paid no attention to him, Jem would come down. Atticus was right.”

This shows that Scout is slowly growing up and learning how to get along with other people. She also learns that Atticus ios wise, and his intelligence foreshadows how his morals will be right for the majority of the novel.

 

That’s all for chapter 3, and chapter 4 will be coming very soon.

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