To Kill a Mockingbird
A Comparison Of The Novels To Kill A Mockingbird And Go Set A Watchman
Harper Lee lived long enough for her to publish two novels, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman”. The two are related to each other by talking about the same issues Jean Louise “Scout” Finch grew up with as a child (To Kill a Mockingbird) to what she has to deal with as an adult (Go Set a Watchman).
To Kill a Mockingbird: In 1933, Maycomb, Alabama, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch lived with her brother Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch and her widowed father Atticus Finch. During the first Chapters of the novel the children are seen spending there long summers with their friend Dill (who only comes when summer is around) and telling stories about Boo (Arthur) Radley. Tensions mount in Maycomb as Atticus prepares to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. During the trial, Atticus argues that Mayella’s injuries could not have been caused by Tom, whose left arm was crushed in an accident years before. Atticus further suggests that Mayella’s father, Bob Ewell, has been abusing her for years and is the real monster. In spite of this, the all-white jury finds Tom guilty, and he’s later killed while trying to escape from prison. Bob Ewell seeks revenge on Atticus, who embarrassed him during the trial. On the night of the Halloween pageant, Ewell attacks Jem and Scout, intending to kill them. Boo Radley comes to the rescue, saving the children and stabbing Ewell in the process. Scout later walks Boo home, but never sees him again. Go Set a Watchman: Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch is returning to her home of Maycomb in Alabama to visit her family for two weeks on vacation. On the train ride home to Maycomb, Jean Louise remembers her older brother Jem, who died of a heart attack two years ago, and her childhood friend Dill, who is now somewhere abroad. She recalls the time the three children held a mock revival service and had other adventures together. Upon arriving home, Jean Louise is met by her childhood friend and lover Henry Clinton. Henry drives her home and they entertain ideas of marriage, but Jean Louise still cannot bring herself to fully commit to marrying Henry. They arrive home and talk to Atticus (who is now seventy-two and has rheumatoid arthritis) and Atticus’s sister, Jean Louise’s aunt, Alexandra, whom Jean Louise has never been able to get along with. The next day, Sunday, they go to church, where Jean Louise is reunited with her Uncle Jack, with whom she is close and trusts dearly.
Although she is supposed to see Uncle Jack that afternoon, Jean Louise discovers a racist pamphlet in her house, which prompts Aunt Alexandra to tell her that Henry and Atticus have gone to the “White Supremacists’ Citizens’ Council of Maycomb” meeting. Jean Louise sneaks into the courthouse and is shocked by the racism going on in the meeting, and feels betrayed by Henry and Atticus. The Next Morning Jean Louise has woken up to the news of Calpurnia’s grandson committing manslaughter while drunk, and that Atticus will take up Zeebo’s (Calpurnia’s grandson) case. However, Atticus is doing so because he does not want the NAACP to be involved. Disillusioned with Atticus, Jean Louise visits Calpurnia, and comes home heartbroken. Upon coming home, Jean Louise is immediately ushered into a coffee with the town ladies that her aunt has set up. Exhausted by the female energy, Jean goes to finally visit Uncle Jack that afternoon. She confronts her uncle about her father’s twisted views, and Uncle Jack unsuccessfully tries to explain to her the necessity of individual conscience. Now, Jean Louise and Henry get coffee, and she tells him she will not marry him. They argue; she storms out and runs into Atticus. Jean Louise and Atticus argue until Jean Louise rushes home to pack and leave Maycomb as soon as possible. She is stopped by Uncle Jack, who slaps her and makes her see that she has finally become her own person. Jean Louise apologizes to Henry and Atticus, and plans to stay in Maycomb the rest of her vacation days.
The Comparison/Differences of the Characters
Jean Louise “Scout” Finch: At the beginning of “To Kill a Mockingbird” , Scout is an innocent, good-hearted five-year-old tomboy, who has no experience with the evils or people of the world/Maycomb. As the novel moves further, Scout has her first contact with evil in the form of racial prejudice, and the basic development of her character is governed by the question of whether she will learn from that contact with her conscience or whether she will be hurt. Thanks to Atticus’s wisdom, Scout learns that though humanity has a great capacity for evil, it also has a great capacity for good, and that the evil can often be mitigated if one approaches others with an outcome of sympathy and understanding. As an adult, Jean Louise is less wild than “Scout” used to be, but she is every bit as passionate and idealistic. Jean Louise’s homecoming reminds her of her younger years in Maycomb, especially her turbulent puberty years. Now, however, Jean Louise must go through a very different coming of age when she learns that her father, Atticus, and her love interest, Hank, are members of the Maycomb citizens’ council, an organization dedicated to preserving segregation in the South. The news that her hero isn’t the man she thought he was devastates Jean Louise, who has always thought of her father as a moral authority and a champion of racial equality. As she tries to come to terms with what her father really believes about race and what she herself believes, Jean Louise learns the danger of entrusting your conscience to someone else.
Throughout the novels Jean Louise learns that humanity is both evil and good. As a child she is blinded by her fathers ego, of defending a black man in a small racist county. As she grows older she keeps this squeaky clean image of her father Atticus, but in reality he’s not all that good. After seeing her father’s true personality she learns to develop her own ideas and ways, without having any influence.
Atticus Finch: A lawyer in Maycomb descended from an old local family. A widower with no humor, Atticus has instilled in his children his strong sense of morality and justice. He is one of the few residents of Maycomb committed to racial equality. When he agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man, he exposes himself and his family to the anger of the white community. With his strongly held convictions, wisdom, and empathy, Atticus functions as a “Christ” like figure.
At 72 years old, Atticus is a well-respected Maycomb lawyer… Because he suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis and has difficulty caring for himself, Atticus lives with his sister, Alexandra, who takes care of him. During Jean Louise’s childhood, Atticus defended a black man accused of rape. Because of this trial, Jean Louise thinks of her father as a champion of equal rights for all races. However, Atticus’ views are not so easy to define: Although he claims to want fair treatment for all races, he also appears to believe that black people are not yet ready for the full rights of citizenship. “Go Set a Watchman” never clarifies precisely what Atticus thinks about racial equality, but clearly Atticus wants his daughter to begin thinking for herself about ethical issues. Admit it, we see Atticus as a hero, not just for being the lawyer of Tom Robinson, but for raising
Scout and Jem while being a lawyer. Like Scout, we are blinded by his heroic actions in “To Kill a Mockingbird” that refuse to believe that he is being a supremacist in “Go Set a Watchman”. But if you look passed the blurred lines all you see is a man who is trying his best to set his daughter up for the real world and flourish her to be a woman with a mind of her own.
Analysis Of The Piece Of Architecture: The Watchman At New Malden
Throughout the course of this piece I will be writing about a building of my choice that has had little or major work done within the last 10 years and writing about it in two separate views a democratic architecture perspective and through the social life of architecture. I have chosen a building currently called the watchmen, it is situated at the end of Burlington road, New Malden in Surrey, the town that was arguably founded in 1846 when the first trainline direct from waterloo, the “Watchman” opened 46 years later in 1892 with its purpose to become the areas “watch house”. With the idea that It would become a meeting point for all the local watchmen to help control and maintain the areas fast growth in population and it was deemed a good idea as the nearest headquarters was around 3 miles away in the larger town of Kingston upon Thames where it’s first station closed 50 years earlier in the 1840s when the area became a part of the metropolitan police district all coming down to the need of expansion. The purpose for the new watch house would be to hold all the necessary equipment and facilities such as cells for prisoners and a large covered parade for the officers to be able to carry out all their routine practice sessions becoming one of the largest stations in the area. The station managed to stay open until 1998 after the building had a “renovation estimate of £750,000” and a decision was made to shut it down as it was deemed not “cost effective”. But never the less still deemed as a “local landmark”.
After a couple years of campaigning and “won widespread public support” a decision to re-open the station was made and to man it with volunteers to become an information centre and was later joined by police and a dog unit but unfortunately that wasn’t to last long due to more cuts within the force. The main campaigner said, “he would vigorously campaign to keep the station open, but fears police property services may be determined to sell.”
Which his predictions were correct when the building was later sold to JD Wetherspoons a popular chain pubs and hotels who are well known to purchase buildings with a great deal of history and then converting them into their pubs decorating them with history about the building and its surrounding area creating a rich atmosphere. The founder of JD Wetherspoons, Tim Martin, made a quote on the Wetherspoons website saying, “We take immense pride in the restoration and refurbishment of wonderful buildings into Wetherspoon pubs. We feel that it is right to celebrate the history of the buildings.” An idea that makes its customers feel like they’re in their local pub rather than the generic look that you associate with a “chain”. The architect who carried out this renovation, Lawrence Beckingham Field, who has worked alongside Wetherspoons in many of it projects across London has carried on the tradition by decorating the walls with a story of New Malden alongside an extension and a memorial garden for a 23-year-old officer who was shot and killed back in 1881 this became a huge tragedy to the community with over 1500 officers coming to pay their respects at his funeral.
“What is demographic Architecture” “Architecture might be called demographic if it could encourage or aid the people living or working in them to engage in democratic politics, but buildings cannot shape political behaviour.” I would agree with part of Ockman’s statement about democratic architecture but when it comes to “The Watchman” we see on countless occasions that it doesn’t matter if you don’t live or work in that building it may just be that the building itself has generated such a huge amount of history that it can still have a major impact in aiding people to want to get involved in politics. A perfect example of this is before the Watchman became a pub the original application proposed be that part of the police station be demolished to make room for an extension to hold a public house as well as 2 flats on the upper levels a one bed and one two bed flat but from 137 neighbours, a site and press notice consultation the planning department received 4 petitions with 672 signatures and 9 letters of objections along with 13 reasons for concern including “Harmful to area and street scene, Increase in litter and graffiti, Noise and disturbance and that the proposed would encourage increase in anti-social behaviour and crime”. Whether it be the history of the building or even just the location of the building I think that it would all come under the Ockman’s statement of encouraging a person to engage in democratic politics even if in this sense the politics is not the same as he intended it to be.
Being one of the two only pubs within a 500m radius, the other being just across the road a pub called “the fountain” a local pub that’s been a part of the “Greene King” the “leading chain operator” (Karina Dsouza, 2019 since 1998 another building that’s grown to become one of the faces of New Malden) this was until 2018 when Greene king’s 20-year lease with the building was coming to an end which closed later that year in June after the decision to not renew the lease was made. I’m sure many of the locals to New Malden like to ponder whether If the watchman were not to open would Greene king of renewed the fountains lease to carry on serving the locals of New Malden their evening entertainment? Although hindsight’s a beautiful thing the pub unfortunately didn’t and an application for redevelopment of the site which would reduce the square meterage from 413 to 214 by removing the garden, carpark and also all the extensions that has been added to the pub in the 20th century leaving only its original 19th century build and turning into 43 new flats which is Ironic really seeing as the Watch-house within its early stages of the application it was refused planning to turn the upper two floors into 2 flats due to the number of petitions they received with one of the main points that the “proposed extension was excessive in size” with another point being that there was “inadequate parking provided” yet this new development just across the road that’s proposing 43 new flats is only providing 17 parking spaces. Whilst also taking a U-turn on these ideas they have also decided that as Liz Meerabeau, chair of New Malden residents association, says “lose amenities such as the car park, the pub garden and the flower stall, which brightened that corner” also when removing the pubs original car park that would also mean putting a stop to the farmers market and Korean festival which is a big part of New Malden’s culture this will become a great loss to the locals not just to lose these assets but also the stopping of them could lead to the visitors that come to New Malden specifically for the market or the festival to stop.
Due to the fact that the watchman was previously a police station with its extensive history dating back to the 1890’s the process when coming to planning was never going to be a straight forward deal but Wetherspoons having become quite familiar with the planning process and how strict they can be this doesn’t seem to faze them into avoiding these sort of situations having over the years dealt with situations such as their latest encounter purchasing a grade 2 listed building, the state cinema, Essex back in 2015. A former art deco cinema that opened up back in 1938 being able to seat 2200 customers which later closed 50 years later in 1988 and since then becoming used for a church and a nightclub. In 2000 Mike Ostler reported that the states listed status was upgrading from a grade 2 to a grade 2* just months before being sold to Morrisons with a clause that they had to maintain the cinemas condition until later being sold again in 2006 which according to Neil Speight they failed to carry out their promise saying, “The State, in Grays which has been empty for a decade, has fallen into disrepair since it was sold to Morrisons as part of the deal which allowed the firm to build a supermarket and car park.” The new owners suggested they had plans to restore it, but 9 years went on and nothing was done until Wetherspoons purchased it in 2015 which in accordance to the planning requirement they intend to restore not only the building but the original organ too making it a “centrepiece”. For sensitive projects like the Watchman and the State when it comes to planning and the neighbouring areas whilst many people embrace the change, like Thurrock’s MP Jackie Doyle-Price with her supporting comment “I’m always keen to welcome new investment in the borough and the arrival of Wetherspoons will help catalyse the night-time economy that Grays needs.” And also labour parliamentary candidate Polly Billington “It’s good to see something happening to the State after years of neglect. However, the building should be more than just a pub and should benefit the whole community, if possible.” with additional claims that they’re also asking whether they could also provide live music and comedy shows to help keep some of the original entertainment factor alive some unfortunately do not see the change as a good thing like Albert Gosnal, an activist who set up a page on Facebook dedicating it to trying to save the state cinema. He gave a comment to the Thurrock’s Gazette saying “It would be very sad, and somehow I do not think it could ever be a success as the town as a place to be sociable was killed when they built Lakeside.” This comment referencing the shopping centre in Grays.
Like the state cinema, the Watchman came across the problems early on in its planning process, as mentioned earlier on the first application was denied turning the upper floors into flats as the scale of the project was too excessive 3 years later Wetherspoons later got planning permission to start building after the architect Lawrence Beckingham Field refined the plans removing the flats from the upper levels and extending just the ground floor keeping it all in line with the existing pitched roof (right) whilst doing this also creating a new entrance into the extension whilst also setting the extension 11 metres back from the east neighbours property. Many of the conditions that would lead to the application being accepted had a lot to do with the noise that would be created by the buildings use which was that the building was not to exceed 5db a metre from any of the façade that backed on to the neighbouring houses, whilst working with Spectrum acoustic consultants, lead to the implementation of extra acoustic insulation was added into the design. The layout of the interior also plays a big part in becoming a natural sound block which as you can see by my diagram on the left, the placement of the areas where the customers would interact with each other all face towards the road with the exception of the ones that face into the yard which as I stated before sits 11 metres back from the neighbouring house to ensure any sound that travels though is lost as it travels across the yard. You then have all the other rooms such as the cellar, toilets and storage act as a natural sound block and finally the kitchen which is also set back from the neighbour’s garden by 2 metres. As one of the biggest concerns was noise levels a couple more conditions were put in place such as they were not to be permitted to have any TV’s on the walls or audio systems and the pub must not be in use to customers outside of the opening hours which were 9:00 – 23:30 Monday to Saturdays and 10:00 – 22:30 on Sundays and bank holidays until May 2018 when they were granted extended opening hours which were 8:00 – 23:30 7 days a week.
For the social aspect of the building it becomes almost a necessity for the space to allow its customers to gain a sense of feeling welcomed and comfortable almost as though you were at home, giving them the ability to relax and enjoy themselves, which is kind of funny seeing as when you think of a police station these feelings are probably the last that you would associate with and you could probably go as far to say that sometimes you would feel intimidated by being inside and you most definitely wouldn’t feel at home, well… I guess that all comes down to how many encounters you have had. All these feelings that are felt when you walk into a building, depending on what the purpose of it is, all comes down to how the building is designed to make you feel, and depending on whether the feelings that are portraited is how it was intended is how a building can become either a success or a failure. According to an article written by Shirangi Vats on “Impact of Architecture on human psychology” she says that “An architect can control human behaviour with his design by understanding the way that a building’s design can influence a person’s behaviour, thus, modifying the individual’s mood and perception, whether the environment is natural or man-made.”
In this case, being a pub, a failure to create an atmosphere that makes you feel welcomed would lead to customers not wanting to spend their time and money which would eventually lead to the place closing. Design features change within the Watchman depending on where you are within the pub for example to the right you have an image from the Watchman that shows you the bar on the right hand side and on the left you have part of the seating area this image is a perfect example, by the bar as you can see you have a large skylight alongside the brighter lights, a screed floor and taller ceilings to make you feel more spacious giving you the sense that you want to interact with others not just those who you’re with to show you this is where you’re served. Then on the left hand side you go to the more intimate areas where you would usually interact with your own group this is where features such as: atmospheric lighting giving you the feeling that the ceiling lower, more relaxed and the use of textured wallpapers with carpets to give you the feeling as if you’re in your front room come into play all these are carried on throughout the pub with a few extra features such as lower ceiling, fabric on the wall wrapping up onto the ceiling, wall fixtured lights, making sure the tables have a decent space between them and booths back to back with high headrest to block out the vision of other making you feel as though you’re alone. All these give the place a character, a character that you would associate with your own home. A place where you feel safe to relax and “let your hair down” all photos cleverly placed giving the customer something to look at and discover the history throughout their stay keeping them intrigued which according to Tom Strother, an interior designer and co-founder for Fabled studio , “It’s the small details that make a restaurant great and whilst they’re details that guests may not necessarily notice at first, they reveal themselves once you start to look in more detail and absorb your surroundings.”
Even with all these design features that are implemented within the watchman I can’t help but to still find it ironic how a police station, especially one of the less generic looking ones, and one that you could say just by looking at it that it had more of a personality to it than the everyday bog standard police stations that you see and how it could go from being a symbol and a main asset when it comes to being able to uphold the law and with its presents in the area would come with the ability to make the area feel safe can be turned into an establishment, that was argued by many in the area during the application process, that it could potentially encourage one of its main causes for disturbance and a rise in crime within the area which according to AlchoRehab 40% of all convictions are down to abusing alcohol. Which with those facts you could understand why the locals wouldn’t want another free house in the area.
Although it is a high percentage in crimes that are committed whilst under the influence of alcohol abuse there are many precautions a company like Wetherspoons can and do to help prevent situations escalating into committing a crime and some of them include rules such as they should refuse to serve anyone who should appear drunk, the ability to take drinks off of anyone who appears drunk and having security, those who in the pub help those who may have been served too much due to poor judgement and those of are on the door to prevent from people entering if they’re already to intoxicated to prevent them from drinking anymore. All these precautions are put in place to ensure that an application like the watchman can be approved to give people a space in which they can go to and socialise instead of going home to an empty flat where they’d feel lonely or a place where you go to meet your friends after a long week at work or even its just somewhere to take your mum and dad out for dinner and even though the Watchman’s original purpose was to make the people in the area feel a sense of security its new purpose gives a place to the community that I feel has been successfully designed to allow an individual to feel as though it’s their home away from home and has created a safe environment once again. “Many people find it hard to open their hearts and share their feelings and problems. However, social interaction where people can express their feelings and share their problems with other people has a beneficial outcome on human health.”
It doesn’t matter when the renovations take place whether the applications submitted in 2007 in New Malden or 2015 in Thurrock there will always be someone who has an attachment to the building whether that be because of a memory that the building helped generate or even if it’s just the architecture itself, I guess that’s the beauty of architecture it and even though it could become a problem as an architect you have to admire that someone would want to fight for your design but you also have to realise that architecture has to grow and something that is designed 127 years ago may not fit the requirements of today’s needs it’s with these kinds of challenges that leads to a better designs. The ability of taking a cherished piece of architecture and expanding it in a way that doesn’t just fit the requirements but also compliments the original piece so that it can satisfy everyone whilst also carrying on inspiring new people to want to learn about its history and how it’s come to be what it is.
Change Of Scout’s Perspective From Mockingbird To Watchman
To kill a Mockingbird and Go set a watchman are novels written by the same author – Harper Lee, which both showed the process of the development of scout’s characteristics from Scout’s perspective, how she changes from a young ignorant girl to an independent thoughtful young woman who looks forward to the freedom. In the Go set a Watchman, the author, Harper Lee, focused on the confusion of the adult Scout, and the hurt and the soul’s baptism that she experienced after returning to the Maycomb county. The perspective of Jean Louise in Go set a watchman on Atticus had a significant change compared with to kill a Mocking bird. With the growing of the age and the more experience in New York which allows Jean Louise receive more freedom-thought, Scout showed much more maturity than in Mockingbird, which leads to the independence of Jean Louise both manually and physically. Because of these shifts of Scout’s life, her view of Atticus had a dramatic change in many ways which are pretty different from childhood and also helped Scout build an individual mind and keep independent on critical thinking.
To begin with, Atticus’s figure in Scout’s perspective changed dramatically due to the disparity on the racism problem. Her father, who she knew in her infancy, was a kind and decent man who dared to ‘devote himself’ to justice and was an example and pride for her to do things for others. Now, in old age, he sat at the same table with the white racists to discuss the affairs of the county and town, which really made her ‘sick’ because ‘the person she once completely trusted failed her’ The only person she knew who gave her the confidence to point out that “he is a gentleman, he is a gentleman from the bone” betrayed her, openly, disgusting, shamelessly betrayed her. The holy figure of her father in her heart is dying. Harper Lee created a great contradiction between father and daughter in the Watchman in order to enlighten Scout’s mind. Lee reveals the key to father-daughter conflict: the phantom that the soul projected. It is easy to understand the daughter’s fatherly love so that she is always imagining Atticus as a perfect dad. She projected all her values and ideas on her father and wishfully acquiesced that her conscience was her father’s conscience. This is quite similar to moral kidnapping and using the judgment of a mortal at the request of God. It was not Atticus have changed. Though he is old and weak. He could not stand at the gate of the prison as he used to stand against a crowd of farmers. He could not shoot mad dogs as before. But he is still the gentleman who have good manners. As an audience, just the perspective of Scout viewing her father changed.
In addition, Scott’s near-pathological adoration and belief in his father had made tremendous changes due to her perspective change on her father and Scout starts to see her father in a normal way. Atticus used his unique way to educate Scout. In her daughter’s heart, he was also an upright, friendly, open-minded, knowledgeable elder and a fighter against racial discrimination, even in the town of Maycomb, and he was also respected and trusted by all. In the course of his growth, his father’s influence was deeply ingrained, and he instilled his conscience and thought into his daughter and was worshipped by her as a god. With the passing of the time, Scout returned to the Maycomb county again. To her surprise, however, the manner in which she had always been regarded as God was contrary to what she had thought was fair and just. She was unable to accept her father’s imperfection and could not accept his father’s political point of view, and she was even rudely reviled her father and made her tiny ‘paranoia’ ruin the relationship between her and her father. Harper Lee created Scout’s verbal abuse and quarrel with his father to help Scott understand that his father was just an ordinary man and would not always be right. She learned that her father should be greeted to earth like an angel. And her father, Atticus, is not a god, he still has the shortcomings as others do.
Last but not least, Louise’s perspective on Atticus’s sayings had a significant change which also means that Jean Louise has become completely independent. Compared with Mockingbird, Scout in Watchman are less concern about her father’s point. In childhood, she almost followed all the instructions Atticus gave to her. However, she started to defend herself or even criticize Atticus when they are talking about racism. Scout even used Hitler to describe Atticus as a member of Citizens’ Councils. Additionally, Scott began to pay no attention to his father’s point of view, even if his father was right. For example, when Scott and his father quarreled about Jefferson’s history, Atticus expounded Jefferson’s idea of equality, while Scott said Atticus tampered with history. The reason why Lee shows Scout’s points is to show Scout could actually think independently and no longer follow her father blindly. At the end of the Watchman, as a result of all the conflict solved, she jumped into the car pretty carefully that she did not hurt her head, which could also show that Louise finally accepted her personality and freedom of choice.
In a nut, Jean Louise has completely built her independent think ability and changed her perspective on Atticus in the round by the staying in Maycomb for days and had a huge conflict with Atticus. With the shift of the changing perspectives on Atticus, Scout has developed a more complete, autonomous personality, and her relationship with his father comes closer with the changing judgment of her father from her point of view. Though Atticus is no longer the supreme figure in Scout’s heart, he is still the kind, generous and understandable father to Scout.
Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird: Summary
The place: Maycomb, Alabama, finalist for Most Boring Town in America. Few people move in, fewer move out, so it’s just the same families doing the same things for generation after generation. Like the Finches: Scout, her brother Jem, and their father Atticus. Every summer Scout and Jem are joined by Dill Harris, who shares their obsession with the local haunted house, the Radley Place, and the boogeyman who lives there, Boo Radley.
Fall comes, Dill leaves, and Scout starts school. The Radley Place is in between Scout’s house and school, so she has to go by it every day, usually at top speed. One day she notices something odd: a couple of pieces of gum stuck in a hole in the tree. She tells Jem about it, and soon they find other treasures hidden in the same place, including finely-carved soap figurines of Scout and Jem themselves. This lasts until the following fall, when they find that Mr. Nathan (Boo’s brother) has filled in the knothole with cement.
That winter, disaster strikes: Miss Maudie’s house catches on fire and burns to the ground. While a sleepy Scout stands on the street trying not to freeze, someone drapes a blanket over her shoulders without her noticing: turns out that someone was Boo Radley, and it freaks Scout out that he was right there and she didn’t even notice.
At school, Scout gets flak from her classmates because her father, a lawyer, has taken on a new client, a black man named Tom Robinson. Over the summer, Jem and Scout learn important lessons about race (black people don’t much like white people; their black cook has a whole life and world of her own), and they also learn that Tom Robinson’s been accused of raping a white woman. Oh, and meanwhile Aunt Alexandra has shown up to teach the kids some family pride and, in Scout’s case, ladylike behavior. Good luck. Finally, it’s the day of Tom Robinson’s trial. The kids sneak over to see, and it’s pretty apparent (to us, at least) that the white woman, Mayella Ewell, is lying. Great! Truth and Atticus’s lawyering skills win the day, right? Not so much. Tom is convicted, and some of the white folks aren’t too happy about Atticus basically accusing the girl and her dad of lying. Then, a few weeks later, Tom is dead, shot while trying to escape prison.
As if things aren’t bad enough, Jem and Scout hear rumors that the girl’s dad has been indirectly threatening their dad. One dark night, they’re on their way back home from the school’s Halloween pageant when they hear someone following them. Suddenly they’re attacked, though Scout can’t see much because of her costume. When things calm down, one man is on the ground, and another carries the injured and unconscious Jem back to the Finch house, while Scout follows.
When all the excitement dies down, it turns out that Mr. Ewell (the girl’s dad) is dead, Jem’s arm is broken, and Boo Radley is the one who carried Jem home. For some reason, Atticus assumes that the killer is the 10-year-old boy rather than the silent, hulking giant, and he starts planning Jem’s legal defense. Luckily, a friend talks him out of it. The novel ends with Scout looking at her neighborhood with new eyes from the Radley front porch, wondering what Boo thinks about all this.
And then she goes home to have her daddy tuck her in and read her to sleep.
A Loss Of Innocence
“The world’s ending Atticus! Please do something!” (Lee 64) This was the innocent voice of Jean Louise Finch, the protagonist in “To Kill a Mockingbird”, by Harper Lee. Jean doesn’t understand what racism is, what violent acts are, and other issues that are applicable to the real world. Through the characterization of Scout, Lee reveals that innocence often obscures a child’s knowledge of violent experiences such as racism, rape or murder, because their knowledge of those types of encounters are limited. Children often don’t know much about the topic of racism. In this novel, there are two major examples of this.
Firstly, Scout is affected by the town’s response to Atticus defending Tom Robinson. Even Scout’s cousin is indirectly involved in this as he calls Atticus an lover. When Jean asks Atticus about the topic of racism, the conversation goes something like this, “A n—– lover, I ain’t very sure what it means, but the way Francis said it….” (Lee 86) Her uncle Jack rants about how children shouldn’t know and use such words, but Atticus told him that children can now the meaning of such words, they just should not use it. In contrast, there is yet another type of racism that is discreetly present, how some blacks viewed whites in those days. For instance, when Jem and Jean go to the black church with Calpurnia, one of the members present said, “You ain’t got no business bringin white chillun here…” (158). The negative connotations used in this quote (“ain’t got no business, white chillun”), indicate how some black people viewed the caucasian race. This shows how Scout’s innocence limited her knowledge, about such a controversial subject.
Children aren’t aware of the topic of rape. One day, Scout overhears a man comment, “They c’n go loose and rape up the countryside for all of ‘em who run this county care.”(136) Scout doesn’t understand what rape is, as she is a young girl, so she asks her father, Atticus, the meaning of the word. He grows sober, and says, “Rape was the carnal knowledge of a female by force and without consent.”(136). Scout again demonstrates her innocence of violent topics such as rape. Children are the ones most affected by murder. Scout experiences two versions of this tragic topic. A great example of this was the appalling Tom Robinson murder. It all started when Atticus first informed them of the death, “Tom’s dead. They shot him. He was running. It was during their exercise period. They said he just broke into a blind raving charge…” (239).
Jem was extremely affected by Tom’s death. At first, he was extremely shocked, because for the first time, he was exposed to the injustices of the world. Finally, another great example is the attempted murder on Jean and Jem. They are, for obvious reasons, extremely shaken up. Scout hastily describes the scene, “He slowly squeezed the breath out of me. I could not move. Suddenly he was jerked backwards…” (266). This event, surprisingly, led Scout to figure out that Boo Radley had saved them. Knowledge is often limited by a child’s innocence, because they only have a limited amount of experiences.
In “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, the protagonists Jean, and Jem are extremely naive and innocent in the beginning of the book, but as the book progresses, and their innocence starts to strip away, they soon have to face the hard cold facts of the world, such as prejudice, discrimination and murder. Harper Lee also uses great character development as she transforms Jean, the narrator, from a innocent and a naive girl to a girl who understands discrimination and prejudice of social class and race. In her novel, readers can also make inferences that children don’t understand violent experiences because their innocence blinds them from doing so. Readers see that it takes Scout to go through Tom’s trial to fully understand the extent of how much the world is different from what she thought it was.
One should understand prejudice and discrimination, and they shouldn’t be ignorant of the fact that it exists. As an English journalist once said, “No man knows the value of innocence and integrity but he who has lost them.”
The Differences in the Motivations for Learning of Scout from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Skeeter from Kathryn Stockett’s The Help
Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird and Skeeter from The Help both learn about the lives of people not in their own racial group, but they both have different motivations for learning. In the film The Help, Skeeter learns about the black community by interviewing black maids in Jackson for a book she is writing. Skeeter is driven to seek out black maids to interview for the purpose of hearing information about different perspectives, and to publish their experiences for the world to read. Skeeter gave black maids a chance to share their experiences because the households the maids work for take them for granted, and do not consider their feelings and perspectives. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout learns about the lives of black people in her hometown of Maycomb by interacting with them at their church. After learning that her family’s black cook Calpurnia taught her son to read, Scout says, “That Calpurnia led a modest double life never dawned on me. The idea that she had a separate existence outside our household was a novel one, to say nothing of her having command of two languages” (Lee 167). Scout is encouraged to come to the black church with her brother by Calpurnia, but she does not go with any intent other than to spend time with Calpurnia. The questions she that asks Calpurnia about the lives of people in the black community are asked because of her naturally childish curiosity, not out of a sense of injustice like Skeeter does. Scout and Skeeter are both initially unaware of the prejudices that black people in their towns suffer because of how society treats them, until they take time to listen to the perspective of someone who is not white. While Skeeter has more influence on how blacks are viewed in Jackson by publishing their stories, Scout educating herself on the perspective of another group sets her apart from the ignorant people of Maycomb.
Aunt Alexandra from To Kill a Mockingbird and Hilly from The Help are both prejudiced, but while Hilly keeps her prejudices until the end, Aunt Alexandria eventually lets her prejudices go. When Aunt Alexandra learns that Tom Robinson has been shot dead, she says to Miss Maudie, referring to Atticus and the trial, “I can’t say I approve of everything he does, Maudie, but he’s my brother, and I just want to know when this will ever end. It tears him to pieces” (Lee 316). Aunt Alexandra acts like the other members of the Finch family in the beginning, as she does not support Atticus defending Tom Robinson, claiming that he has brought shame upon the Finches. While she initially comes across as an unsupportive, cold, and racist woman, her exterior breaks the moment when she learns that the man her brother failed to defend is now dead, and her hidden inner loyalty towards Atticus shows. Hilly, on the other hand, is presented as aggressively racist throughout the film, from beginning to end. An example of Hilly still being prejudiced at the end is when she storms up to Skeeter, threatening to tell her mother that she wrote The Help. Hilly is furious that a white woman like Skeeter would try to sympathize with the black community in Jackson, as she believes that black people are beneath white people. She shows her prejudices by never showing any compassion towards black people in Jackson, and she goes out of her way to make life harder for her own maids whenever possible. Ironically, Hilly doesn’t mind running charity benefits for people in Africa, but cannot even try to sympathize with the black people living in her own town. Hilly never shows any change of heart, unlike Aunt Alexandria, who eventually sees the toll the trial is taking on her brother and sympathizes with him and his cause.
Both Constantine and Calpurnia are similar because they act as mother figures towards the children they help raise. An example of Calpurnia acting as a mother towards Scout is when Jem shouts that Scout should start “being a girl and acting right”, Calpurnia comforts a crying Scout by saying “I just can’t help it if Mister Jem’s growin’ up. He’s gonna want to be off to himself a lot now, doin’ whatever boys do, so you just come right on in the kitchen when you feel lonesome. We’ll find lots of things to do in here” (Lee 154). Since Scout’s mother is dead, Calpurnia acts as the motherly figure in Scout’s life, even if she already has a family of her own. Scout is the only female in a male-dominated household, and she also happens to be the youngest. Calpurnia recognizes this, and she makes sure that she is always available to Scout whenever Atticus and Jem are not. In The Help, Constantine acts as a mother towards Skeeter, even though Skeeter’s mother is alive and well. In the film, Skeeter has a childhood flashback to when Constantine comforted her when she was not asked to a dance, and how Constantine provided her with words of encouragement. Even though Constantine is just a maid, she still feels responsibility towards Skeeter as a mother would. When she sees Skeeter in need, her motherly instincts immediately kick in, and she goes to Skeeter’s side, not intending to leave until she is sure Skeeter is comforted. Both Calpurnia and Constantine are similar because while the children they watch over are not their own, they know that they cannot bear to leave a child in distress.
Both Tom Robinson from To Kill a Mockingbird and Aibileen from The Help are similar because they are both blamed for things they did not do because of their race. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Tom Robinson is falsely accused and convicted of raping a white woman. When Jem complains to Atticus that it was not fair that Tom was found guilty by the jury, Atticus replies “There’s something in our world that makes men lose their heads- they couldn’t be fair if they tried. In our courts, when it’s a white man’s word against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life” (Lee 295). Atticus is an experienced lawyer, and the evidence he presents to the court makes it clear that Tom Robinson did not rape Mayella Ewell, as he would be physically unable to. Because of social codes in 1930s Alabama, however, the white jury cannot be convinced that a black man can be innocent, and Tom Robinson is given a death sentence. In The Help, Hilly forces Elizabeth to fire Aibileen by falsely claiming that Aibileen stole some silverware. Hilly knows that no evidence would be needed to have a black person arrested for theft, especially when the alleged victim is white. Even though Aibileen evades being reported to the police by threatening to reveal Hilly as the subject of “the terrible awful”, she is still fired for something she did not do. Because of Hilly’s desire to take revenge on Aibileen contributing to The Help, Aibileen has to painfully leave behind Mae Mobley, the child she raised, to her neglectful mother. Both Aibileen and Tom suffer oppression from the racist society they live in, and because of the paradigm in their communities , neither of them get a chance to clear their rightful names.
King Lear’s Perspective on the Imperfect Relationship Between Wealth and Justice in To Kill a Mockingbird and Lindsay Lohan
Justice systems exist to implement suitable punishments and to combat inequities. However, society’s perspective of justice overwhelmingly favors the affluent, as evidenced in one of King Lear’s memorable speeches. “Small vices” and petty crimes have plagued the impoverished population, while the wealthy have obtained the luxury of evading consequences for their immoral deeds by “plating their sins with gold.” According to King Lear, the lance of justice breaks and ceases to function in the face of opulence. Novels such as To Kill a Mockingbird, celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan, and news headlines across the nation testify to the indisputable truth of King Lear’s perspective on the imperfect relationship between wealth and justice.
In Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the inequalities of race and class unite to claim the life of an innocent man in the name of a depraved justice system. Tom Robinson, a destitute black man faced condemnation for the rape of Mayella Ewell, despite questionable testimony from the prosecution. On the other hand, Robinson’s authentic account of the incident fell upon deaf ears. Under the influence of bigoted principles, the majority of the jurors automatically deemed the word of a poor, black defendant as unreliable. Armed personnel later shot Tom Robinson as he attempted to escape from prison by ascending a heavily guarded fence. Even after his death, the community of Maycomb seemed unfazed. They had expected an inferior, impoverished man to engage in such risky, wretched behavior.
On the other extremity of the economic spectrum, Lindsay Lohan avoided legal responsibility for her countless atrocities by offering her money as a token of her penitence. Police have charged Lohan with several counts of intoxicated driving, drug possession, theft, as well as violation of parole. An average person who committed Lohan’s crimes could face a lengthy prison sentence. However, despite Lindsay Lohan’s numerous arrests, she resided in a correctional facility for single day and devoted mere hours of community service in retribution. Lohan benefited from the luxury of house arrest and rehab as an alternative to being in state custody as a result of her ability to pay over $100,000 in bail and costly fees to hire distinguished attorneys.
In addition to Lindsay Lohan, other court cases in which rich people have successfully mitigated their punishments have crossed numerous headlines of renowned newspapers such as The New York Times. In 2013, a Texas judge refrained from imprisoning 16-year-old Ethan Couch after he killed four people in a drunk driving accident. During the trial, the boy’s family hired a psychologist who provided testimony on the boy’s affliction with “affluenza,” a psychological problem that arises in children of privilege. The result of this testimony was a sentence to 10 years of probation rather than the 20 years in prison which the prosecutors had yearned for. This was a unique circumstance in which personal misconduct was directly connected to personal wealth and the court ruling sparked momentous controversy. The trial’s outcome outraged the victims’ families and led the rest of society to question whether a teenager from a low-income family would have received such a lenient penalty.
Stretching from Shakespeare’s era into modern times, inequities in the punishment of criminals have mostly appeared along economic boundaries. Justice systems attempt to assign penalties without bias, but society’s tendency to favor the affluent has ingrained itself into numerous legal practices. Throughout the centuries, from the 1930’s of To Kill a Mockingbird to the 2010’s of Lindsay Lohan and Ethan Couch’s exploits, wealth has managed to override common sense in the courts. The result is the incarceration of disproportional numbers of impoverished people, and overwhelming leniency towards wealthier criminals. Just as King Lear stated in his speech, the lance of justice breaks and ceases to function under the standard regulations in the face of economic divisions.
Irreality In To Kill A Mockingbird: An Overview Of Scholarly Perspectives
Harper Lee’s novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” (1960) is commonly understood to be a coming of age story that deal with the theme of racial discrimination in the American South during the Great Depression. Close inspection of the novel reveals many ambiguities that contradict this broad reading of the text. In fact, the novel is constructed on contradictory terms from the ground up, with many stereotypes and prejudicial depictions of scenes and characters working in opposition to the traditional reading of the novel. The contradictory ideas in the novel are based in a sense of irreality that hangs over the novel’s setting, plot, and dialogue. This irreality is best understood as a kind of willful naiveté that imposes a child’s view of events on the action and draws a similarly childlike picture of moral and societal realities.
Jennifer Murray examines the ambiguous foundations of the novel in her article “More Than One Way to (Mis)Read a Mockingbird” (2010). In the article, Murray rejects many of the traditional critical readings of the novel as being based in a superficial grasp of the text. In order to explicate the thematic contradictions in the novel, Murray explores the evolution of the novel from its earliest incarnation as series of disconnected short-stories. One of the first traditional ideas that Murray rejects is the idea of the novel being in any way Scout’s coming of age story. Murray notes that Scout, unlike Jem, never makes the transition from childhood to adolescence in the novel. It is only through the flashback framing of the story that Scout’s maturity is conveyed. In the action of the story itself, Scout remains rooted in childhood.
As Murray notes, “Scout, moving from six to nine years of age, does not undergo radical transformation, does not move from childhood to adolescence, does not, in fact, ‘come of age’” (Murray), therefore the novel is not actually her coming of age story. Instead, Scout is a narrative device through which the various short-stories are integrated in the novel. This technique results in much of the consequent contradictions in theme. The contradictory visions that are contained in Scout’s narrative are the result of a fantasy-experience of the world. The fact that Scout never properly “comes of age” in the novel is an indication that her child’s vision remains intact in shaping her narrative. Scout is therefore an unreliable narrator who presents an irreal vision of her experiences and memories.
Murray’s analysis of the contradictions in the novel is largely based on the premise that Lee’s narrative technique was expedient rather than elegant. She notes that: “The text embodies contradictory impulses in the thematic fields of race, gender, patriarchy, class, and narrative structure; these contradictions, which belong to history, mark the text as surely as the repressed produces symptoms”(Murray). Murray’s estimation of the novel is that expresses the limitations of lee as a novelist to think outside of cultural and racial stereotypes. However, what is a more likely and more critically supportable is the idea that the contradictions in the novel represent Scout’s limitations as an unreliable narrator and that the irreal and childlike elements of the narrative are a deliberate choice made by Lee in order to underscore her theme of lost innocence and racial discrimination.
Again, it is worth remembering that traditional interpretations of the novel are usually straightforward and are likely to pass over the important ambiguities that reveal the deeper subtext of the story. For example, Dean Shackelford points out in”The Female Voice in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’: Narrative Strategies in Film and Novel” (1996) that the film version diverges from the predominantly female point of view that is intrinsic to the novel. Shackelford’s interpretation of the novel is that it “portrays a young girl’s love for her father and brother and the experience of childhood during the Great Depression in a racist, segregated society which uses superficial and materialistic values to judge outsiders, including the powerful character Boo Radley.” (Shackelford). Close inspection of each of the assertions reveals that most, if not all of Shackelford’s assumptions are unsupportable.
Even such rudimentary themes as femininity or racial equality are subject to ambiguity when the text is closely inspected. For example, the character of Calpurnia is commonly regarded as a representation of racial integration. She is looked at as a member of the Finch family and appears to be presented as such in the novel. However, as Murray points out, Calpurnia’s actual status is that of an overworked servant. Murray writes “Calpurnia is the housekeeper, cook, and babysitter, but there are no clear indications of when her work day begins or ends or how much she is paid for her services” (Murray). Because she is both female and African American, Calpurnia’s depiction in the novel unfortunately forwards prejudicial stereotypes against minorities on both racial and gender grounds.
Calpurnia’s status as a servant corresponds to other stereotypes that are embedded into the basic foundation of the novel. The central character of Atticus Finch, for example, is an embodiment of idealized patriarchal power. Throughout the novel he is depicted as the quintessential father who prioritizes compassion and wisdom above violence and power. This conception of Atticus is almost necessary in order for the novel’s plot to succeed. However, Atticus’s true nature is much less tolerant and practical than it may appear at first glance. Murray asserts that Atticus is, in fact, a strangely ineffectual character whose narrow-minded commitment to unspecified moral principles leaves him unable to act with any relevance or force. Murray notes that “Atticus, in his strict moral principles, is also plagued by an inability to evaluate danger. His leitmotif is ‘it’s not time to worry yet ‘… a way of reassuring his children that things will always turn out all right, but of course they don’t.” (Murray). Again, as with the character of Calpurnia, Atticus’s basis in stereotype is obvious, but his relation to the deeper thematic contradictions in the novel is only evident on a close reading.
A similar dynamic is present in regard to the novel’s generally assumed status as Scout’s coming of age story. As previously mentioned, very little in the novel suggests Scout’s development into young adulthood. Instead, it is Jem who undergoes the transformation from childhood to adolescence. According to Murray, it is Jem’s growth, rather than Scout’s that must be considered the focal point of the novel’s coming of age theme. Murray notes that “To conclude the question of To Kill a Mockingbird as Bildungsroman, suffice it to say that examples focusing on the emotional growth of Jem could be multiplied.” Murray offers a further conclusion that Jem’s coming of age story effectively gives the novel multiple protagonists.
If the novel has more than one protagonist, the question arises as to which of the two protagonists is central. Murray observes that “To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel without a clear protagonist, making do with a double-perspective first-person narrator instead,” (Murray). However, there is a very clear distinction between the two protagonists: Jem is the only one of the two whose transition from child to adolescent is shown to the reader. The fact of Scout’s development into puberty and beyond into maturity is implied but it is never dramatized. This means that Scout’s character is effectively left in a state of perpetual innocence while Jem is clearly shown being initiated into the cynical reality of young adulthood.
Jem’s painful loss of evidence is presented in dramatic fashion after he experiences the verdict at Tom Robinson’s trial. Lee writes: “It was Jem’s turn to cry” and as Jem walks away from the courthouse he verbally expresses his disillusionment: “It ain’t right,” he muttered” (Lee 215).The guilty verdict is synonymous with Jem leaving behind the comfortable innocence of his childhood illusions. Scout’s innocence is not shown as being shattered during this scene. The fact that Jem is the vehicle for the novel’s coming of age theme means that Scout’s contrasting innocence is brought to the forefront of the story due to the fact that the narrative is told exclusively in her voice.
Shackelford points out that Scout’s status as the sole narrator of the novel ensures that “that the reader is seeing all the events through a female child’s eyes” (Shackelford). This statement is of tremendous significance because it is connected to the previously explored ambiguities and thematic contradictions. Scout is the primary protagonist of the story and its sole narrator. As such everything in the novel must be regarded as being seen through Scout’s perspective. Scout’s perpetual naivete is indicated by the fact that her coming of age is left un-revealed to the reader. Therefore the ambiguities and contradictions that impact the novel’s themes are the result of a childlike simplification of reality. This is the reason, for example, that Calpurnia’s status as a slave is buried in the text beneath a veneer of familial inclusion. Such a veneer reflects Scout’s perpetual innocence.
The naivete that colors Scout’s perspective is clear from the previously discussed ambiguities. However, there is another, perhaps even more fundamental, structural detail that shows how this perpetual innocence feeds a sense of irreality into the novel. Chura’s essay in Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents (1994) presents the case that the novel conflates two periods of American history. Although the ostensible setting of the novel is during the Great Depression, Chura argues that many of the details of the fictionalized trial of Tom Robinson are drawn from the real-life trial of Emmet Till that took place in 1955. Chura states that “A fundamental a presence in To Kill a Mockingbird is the structural and ideological detail of the Emmett Till trial of 1955…The mid 1950s/early civil rights era is therefore the context from which the novel is best understood” (Chura). This strange mixing of era is part of the way in which Lee’s narrative strategy presents a story steeped in irreality and fantasy.
Cura goes further in the analysis of the novel’s historical backdrop. According to Chura, “Lee’s 1930s historical background, though developed in some detail, should not be allowed to obscure the real conditions which governed the text’s production in the years from roughly 1955 to 1959” (Chura). In other words, Scout’s recollection of events within the context of the narrative itself is an act of bending history by placing the social themes and ideas of the mid 1950’s into a fictional setting based on the 1930’s. If the historical inaccuracies and thematic ambiguities of To Kill a Mockingbird are simply regarded as weaknesses in Lee’s technique or in her thinking, an important aspect of the novel, perhaps the most important aspect is likely to be missed. This is the fact that the intended effect of these seeming “mistakes” is to show the entire narrative through a child’s eyes.
This narrative strategy actually results in the novel showing a unified theme despite its apparent ambiguities and inconsistencies. The unification is in the implied loss of innocence that Scout is shown to have experienced by way of her voice in the novel but that is never directly shown to the reader. The perpetual sense of fantasy and irreality is meant to express the collective social denial of the reality of racism and its crimes. It is through our own loss of innocence that each of us, as readers, feels the tragic consequence of Tom Robinson’s conviction and murder. We are left to shatter the fantasy world that is built out of Scout’s childlike vision. Jem’s painful initiation into adulthood is meant to encourage a tragic and even bitter reading of the events of Tom Robinson’s trial. By contrast, the absence of Scout’s “on-screen” transition into maturity allows each reader to experience this loss of innocence subjectively.
This is a complicated narrative approach but it is supported through a close reading of the text. For example, in Chapter 25 Scout is astonished by Jem’s unwillingness to let her squash a bug. Jem, having been initiated into a world of experience, is unable to kill, while Scout by contrast remains in a state of childish naiveté where killing a “roly-poly” is of little moral consequence. Scout reveals that she is conscious both of Jem’s transition into young adulthood and her own uninitiated state. She thinks to herself that ““It was probably part of the stage he was going through, and I wished he would hurry up and get through it” (Lee 242). In Scout’s mind, all that is necessary is that Jem ‘get through” whatever has disturbed their otherwise undisturbed sense of innocence and safety.
Previously, the fabricated danger of Boo Radley was the only perceived threat to their sense of safety. After Tom Robinson’s conviction Jem no longer believes in the safe world. His rejection of it is based in anger and in sadness. By contrast Scout is only beginning to suspect that something is wrong and she experiences this threat primarily through Jem’s changes in personality. Annie Kasper in the article “General Semantics in to Kill a Mockingbird” (2006) refers to the concept of “infinity values.” This concept “states that all things can have values in a wide variety of gradations” and that furthermore “limitations of the human language often prevent us from making these distinctions” (Kasper). While Jem’s loss of innocence allows him to begin viewing a world based on infinity values, Scout remains rooted in a naive perspective that fosters stereotypes and dramatic distinctions.
Kasper relates the concept of infinity values directly to the way in which Boo Radley is revealed to the reader. Kasper writes “Boo Radley is labeled as creepy and strange because he never ventures from his house. The townspeople associate this strangeness with evil and foster a prejudice against Boo” (Kasper). The same kind of prejudice is, obviously, directed against Tom Robinson on the basis of race. As Jem and Scout come to understand Boo Radley on a more personal level, their fear dissipates. This plot arc is frequently cited as evidence for the novel’s anti-discriminatory theme. Such an assertion is valid, but a close reading of the text reveals that Radley’s character is never fully released from its initial status as “other.” Despite the fact that Radley saves the children and murders Bob Ewell, his status remains largely unchanged.
Murray notes that the common association between Bradley and the mockingbird in the novel’s title remains a passive association: “the plight of Arthur Radley is not much improved by the compassionate but ineffective symbolic attribution of mockingbird status. Is no better life imaginable for him than to return to his gothic shadows” (Murray). Seen in this light, Boo Radley, like Calpurnia, remains oddly impersonal and servile. There is no effort to humanize either of the characters through a realistic examination of their real-world challenges and needs. Instead, both Calpurnia and Radley enter and exit the narrative at useful points remaining largely one dimensional and idealized.
As with the other aspects of fantasy and irreality that have been examined, the portrayal of Radley is based on simplification. The tendency to reduce and simplify the world into obvious divisions and compartments is a symptom of immaturity. Scout’s prolonged state of innocence is symbolic of the cultural blindness that can be shown to be historically attached to America’s racist traditions. One very important thing to remember in connection with the simplification of world-view that comes out of Scout’s narrative is that it is meant to be an obvious contrast to the grim events that are depicted in the novel. Therefore Scout’s casual desire to kill a “roly-poly” is a chilling irony given that Tom Robinson is destined to be squashed in a similar fashion.
The reader is meant to feel that Scout’s innocence and simplified world-view is an unenviable state. It is better to be wounded, like Jem, but awake to the reality of infinity values.
The original description of Boo that appears in Chapter One represents the tragic outcome of retaining the child’s view of the world. Radley is described by Jem as a giant who “dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained” (Lee 13). His appearance is associated with bloodshed and murder. In addition to providing a subtle foreshadowing to the novel’s climax, this description shows with clarity the devastating impact of discrimination and ignorance.
Johnson, Claudia Durst. Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1994. Questia. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.
Kasper, Annie. “General Semantics in to Kill a Mockingbird.” ETC.: A Review of General Semantics 63.3 (2006): 272+. Questia. Web. 23 Feb. 2015.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. 1960.
Murray, Jennifer. “More Than One Way to (Mis)Read a Mockingbird.” The Southern Literary Journal 43.1 (2010): 75+. Questia. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.
Shackelford, Dean. “The Female Voice in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’: Narrative Strategies in Film and Novel.” The Mississippi Quarterly 50.1 (1996): 101+. Questia. Web. 21 Feb. 2015.
Prejudice: A New Perspective In Children’S Eyes
“Racism is still with us. But it is up to us to prepare our children for what they have to meet, and, hopefully, we shall overcome” (Rosa Parks). Prejudice will always remain in society, and it sure does in the novel To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Scout is introduced into the story as an innocent child, as well as Scout’s brother Jem, and she befriends a short boy named Dill. This story takes place in the town of Maycomb, Alabama during the Great Depression. While the children are innocent, adults oppress Tom Robinson because he is Black; when he testifies in court for supposedly raping a white teen, the verdict comes out to be guilty. As the children grow up, they realize how much racism and prejudice exist in the town. Atticus, Scout and Jem’s father, teaches them many life lessons based on the moralities of compassion. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee shows the idea that when prejudice causes stereotypes that become fixed into society, compassion is one of the ways to respond despite all the prejudice spreading.
Because prejudice spreads around Maycomb County, symbolism is used to help explain how people spread prejudice. Scout explains how far the Ewells’ and Negroes’ settlements are from the center of the town.
When Scout’s family go visit the Ewells, Scout describes the environment around their house. With the use of symbolism, she describes that “A dirt road ran from the highway past the dump, down to a small Negro settlement some five hundred yards beyond the Ewells” (Lee 171). Scout shows how far the Ewells’ and Negroes’ settlements are from the center of the town. The readers can now know more about the setting of Maycomb County based on Scout’s explanation; the prejudice shows how poor the conditions were around the house. Lee chooses the words “dump” and “dirt road” to describe the area around the settlement of the Ewells and the Negroes because she wants to get the reader to understand how prejudged the Negroes and Ewells are. Lee represents “dump” as hopelessness because Negroes are known as having a low social status, and most people believe that the Blacks are bad.
Furthermore, the dirt road that leads to the Negro settlements tells the reader more about the Negroes’ social status. The dirt road represents the downhill of the Negroes because white people think that the blacks don’t do anything in the town. Scout shows how unclean the roads and environments were in the Negro settlement area. The symbolism catches the attention of the reader so that he or she knows can have a feeling of the prejudice of the Blacks. Atticus emphasizes how important it is to understand a person by walking around in his or her skin. Miss Maudie describes what the setting is like in the season of fall at Maycomb County. By doing this, she explains to the children of what the environment of Maycomb is like: “‘Why, one sprig of nut grass can ruin a whole yard. Look here. When it comes fall this dries up and the wind blows it all over Maycomb County!’” (Lee 42).
Miss Maudie shows how the symbolic meaning of “one sprig of nut grass” relates to how quickly rumors spread. Here, Miss Maudie claims that this is a representation of rumor and lies spreading. She uses symbolism to claim that one thing may lead to big things later on. Miss Maudie also explains that the nut grass dries up in the fall; this represents how people learn to learn, believe, and accept the rumors that are spreading. This leads to another event; everyone in the town is gossiping about Boo killing his father. Boo did not kill his father; these are rumors and lies being spread across the town. Miss Maudie teaches a lesson here that people are always lying about others, and those lies spread quickly. Because prejudice is so common in the county of Maycomb, prejudice causes stereotypes that are built into Maycomb with irony. Scout explains about how the sheriff separates the Boo from the Negroes: “The sheriff hadn’t the heart to put him in jail alongside Negroes, so Boo was locked in the courthouse basement” (Lee 11). By locking Boo into the courthouse basement, this shows that the sheriff wants to separate him from the other black people in jail. Furthermore, the separation between Boo and the Negroes suggests that Boo is an outcast. Boo is white while the others in jail are black; this leads to an ironic situation. The phase “hadn’t the heart” indicates that the sheriff has compassion. However, the sheriff doesn’t show compassion to the Negroes; by separating Boo from the Negroes, this is not an example of equality.
The irony is important to what the sherrif does because the incompassion he shows not much fairness in the town. The sheriff tried to be nice, and by locking Boo into the courthouse basement rather than putting him into prison, this also shows inequality. By connecting stereotypes and irony to the story, Lee shows us that certain people (in this case, the Negroes) are segregated because of their races, genders, or identities: “Negroes worshipped in it on Sundays and white men gambled in it on weekdays” (Lee 118). The words “worshipped” and “gambled” show the disrespect the white men have for the Negroes. The injustice the white men show leads to the poverty the blacks have because they were once trapped into slavery. In the church, white men mess around and do nothing productive.
However, the black people are using their time wisely to pray and worship. The irony here is that people involved in churches usually pray, worship, and rejoice. In this case, the white people rage in and sin. In the small town of Maycomb County, people spread injustice and lies about people who are different, such as Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. Lee applies irony into segregation because she wants the reader to get a deeper meaning of the story and its lesson. In this context, Lee incorporates irony here because she wants the readers to get a central idea of the message in the text. Even though prejudice involves certain people throughout the story, Scout and Jem are able to feel compassion to help make a reasonable response to the circle of prejudice from the aphorism that they learn from Atticus. Atticus teaches one of his most important lessons to his children, and those will impact the children on: “‘First of all,’ he said, ‘if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks.
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point ofview-’ ‘Sir? ‘-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it’” (Lee 30). By saying that people can get along with each other, Atticus teaches a lesson to Scout; he states that one can’t truly understand what a person is going through unless she walks in someone’s skin. Empathy is all about learning about what other people have to go through on a daily basis. This idea leads to compassion because Atticus is showing concern and sympathy to those who are different. The metaphor in Atticus’s lesson helps him tell the kids about having empathy for others, such as the “mockingbirds” in the story. He describes using a metaphor that one should learn to put him or herself into others’ skins and understand what that feels like.
Here, Atticus is trying to explain that Scout needs to get used to being in other’s shoes to feel compassion, empathy, and sympathy. Using aphorism, Scout’s father teaches the children about the lesson of empathy; he uses the aphorism to really emphasize the lesson he teaches. The lesson Atticus teaches is that he can’t truly understand someone until he looks at his or her perspective of life. Here, Scout finally understands the most important moralities in the story; she knows that Atticus teaches her all the lessons she needs to know: “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” (Lee 279). Scout implies here that her father is correct about his moral values; he teaches that people cannot truly understand what someone is going through unless they put themselves into his or her shoes. The lesson of putting one’s feet into others’ shoes shows the idea of compassion and empathy. This moral value is mentioned many times throughout the novel. “Walk[ing] around in them” suggests how people have to understand others’ emotions and thoughts. Aphorism helps Atticus teach his children about important lessons because the aphorism in his teachings help Scout understand how prejudged the Negroes really were. Scout knew that Atticus was right because of how much she realized that she truly has to imagine having a Negro’s life one day to actually walk into his or her shoes. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee represents that when prejudice leads to stereotypes that are a part of society, compassion is a possible method to react regardless of all the prejudice increasing.
The Civil Rights Movement was a big part of history, and that impacted many people in many ways. People protested about Blacks and the rights of people. Prejudice was a big topic talked about before the movement was established, and people wanted to put a stop to the prejudice. The historical movement ended up in African Americans having equality forever. Individuals know that society can’t say goodbye to prejudice, but they can change their hearts to become more compassionate. Adults can pass the message on, and that can just be the beginning of a big change in society.
The Courage of the Minor Characters in To Kill a Mockingbird, a Novel by Harper Lee
Bravery in the Minority
Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic coming of age novel about the very young protagonist, Scout, and her life in Alabama around the time of the 1930’s. Throughout the course of this novel, Scout comes across many conflicts in her life, however these trials and tribulations help her to grow into a very intelligent, charismatic, and kind person. Although Lee’s novel focuses on Scout’s life and the challenges she witnesses and faces, there are plenty of minor character that also face these same trials as well as many harder one throughout the novel. Atticus, Mrs. Dubose, and Boo Radley are all examples of minor characters that are pushed into uncomfortable events and must brave through them.
Atticus, being Scout’s father, is one of the biggest and most important minor characters. He is one of the few important role models in Scout’s life that teach her all the necessary lessons she needs to grow up, including a few about bravery. However, Atticus’s own bravery is shown in a much different way from Scout’s. Whereas to be brave, Scout stands up to Aunt Alexandra by refusing to wear pants, or she will defend Atticus’s name by starting fights at school, Atticus is brave by not only taking Tom Robinson’s case, but actually trying his hardest to help him as well. In 1930’s Alabama, a white man helping out a black man is as good as committing a crime, and even though Atticus is a well-known and respected lawyer, a good portion of the town turns against him after he decides to help Tom. Scout overhears a few townspeople talking before the trial, saying, “‘you know the court appointed [Atticus] to defend this [negro].’ ‘Yeah, but Atticus aims to defend him. That’s what I don’t like about it’” (Lee 218). Atticus is showing his courage by going against what his society thinks and defending a black man because he actually wants to. He even takes it a step further when a mob of townspeople join together and go down to the jail cell Tom is in and rough him up. Atticus shows his bravery when he goes down to the jail and waits outside the Tom’s cell for the mob. Once they get there, Atticus remains calm, his only response being “‘[Tom’s] asleep. Don’t wake him up” (202). Even though most of Maycomb is against him throughout the whole endeavor, Atticus sticks to his mind, staying brave and helping Tom as much as he possibly can.
Mrs. Dubose’s appearance in To Kill a Mockingbird is abrupt and harsh, but it leaves a major impact on Scout as well as the rest of the story’s plot. When Mrs. Dubose is first introduced, she is yelling at and criticizing Jem and Scout, and she seems to just come off as a nasty old woman. However, later on after Jem is forced to read to Mrs. Dubose everyday for some time, Mrs. Dubose passes away, and Atticus reveals to Jem and Scout just how courageous Mrs. Dubose truly was. Old Mrs. Dubose was an addict to painkillers and she became ill, but made a promise to herself to break the habit of painkillers and die as free “as the mountain air” (148). Mrs. Dubose was a woman in the novel that did not listen to anybody else, but she did not go about it radically; Mrs. Dubose “died beholden to nothing and nobody,” sticking to her views and braving through all the pain she went through (149). According to Atticus, she was the bravest person he had ever known, and coming from a white man in the 1930’s South, that means an awful lot.
The most courageous character, yet character that is seen the least, in the novel is Boo Radley. Boo Radley is a shut-in, he does not leave the house and does not keep contact with any person besides his brother. Boo is comfortable inside, and so that’s where he stays for the majority of the novel, but when Jem and Scout are in trouble, Boo comes outside. Boo Radley leaves the house he has spent years upon years of his life in to save two of the most important people to him from death. This is undoubtably the most courageous act in the whole novel. All the citizens of Maycomb, whether they have met him or not, know that Arthur Radley does not like the limelight, so for him to come out of his home and kill Bob Ewell, massive amounts of courage were needed. As Sheriff Tate says, “To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an’ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight—to me, that’s a sin . . . If it was any other man it’d be different. But not this man, Mr. Finch” (370). Boo Radley risked not only his own life but his own security and privacy in order to save two children that he had been secretly watching over for years. This immense bravery makes Boo Radley one of the most notable characters in the whole novel, even though he only appears for a few scenes and has a grand total of one line.
No matter how minor a character may be in To Kill a Mockingbird, the amount of times the character may appear does not matter; what does matter is what the character does and stands up for. Mrs. Dubose and Boo Radley make minuscule appearances in the entire novel, yet they are two of the bravest characters written about. Atticus, Mrs. Dubose and Boo Radley all are minor characters that face great hardships, but their tremendous sense of courage helps them to overcome these events and change the course of the novel in an instant.