To Kill a Mocking-Bird (TKMB) by Harper Lee starts off by introducing the characters and the town of Maycomb. Characters including ?The Radleys?, especially Boo Radley, and Dill Harris and in less detail the immediate family of Scout, who is narrating the story.
Scout is a girl, she would be about six years old but is in the first grade. I find it amazing that she has such a wide vocabulary for a girl so young. Scout is the troublemaker of the class, but does not come out that way to me, this is because she is honest, but her honesty gets her into trouble. I would think that her not appearing to me as a troublemaker might have something to do with her narrating the story.
I found it interesting how it seems like there is a summary of the story in the first couple of paragraphs. The characters mentioned come out later in the first three chapters.
A boy called Charles Baker Harris is one of these. His nickname is Dill and this is his title throughout the book so far. It is Dill that persuaded Scout?s brother, Jem, to touch the Radley place. The Radley place seems dark and mysterious. The house is described in detail as are all the other ?strange? places and people in Maycomb. It leads the audience to believe Maycomb is a mysterious place. It may not be the case, but it is because different things are treated with suspicion or fear. Why? Currently I don?t know but it may be the mystery about it/them that draws people to the conclusion of this novel.
Boo Radley is an occupant of this household is also seen as different. His life story is told to us which makes you think how it is known. Life in a small community must be like this because unlike in cities, there is less entertainment. Scout seems to know a lot about everyone. This is demonstrated during school.
On the first day of school, the new teacher finds herself in trouble when two boys on separate occasions have different problems.
The first boys family, the Cunningham?s, are poor and the second are known as ?bludgers?. Scout knows this and tries to explain but ends up in trouble. This shows that gossip travels fast in a small town, no-one has a private life in a small town, which could quite possibly even be a quality about the town. Scout finds out later from her father-figure, Atticus why she should stand in someone elses shoes before you judge. ?You never really understand a person until you climb into his skin and walk around in it? is the quote. I found this as a descent quote because it is so true. Atticus seems to be a wise person. He has taught Scout how to read and have manners, but I am still confused as to what his relation to Scout actually is. I believe father, but who calls their father by their first name?
After three chapters of To Kill a Mocking-Bird, I think I may enjoy this novel. I can see it becoming an adventure novel, especially after the first page summary. It will contain already introduced characters and some not, and if that is the way that the novel turns out, I?m sure I will enjoy it. If I am wrong it should still be an interesting novel because reading a book is better if you don?t know the outcome, much like many things in life.
CHAPTER 4-6 To Kill a Mocking-Bird
From chapter four, we now hear of the second summer holidays. Dill comes back and visits and we hear of the adventures of the trio.
Entertainment in a small town, like Maycomb County has to be produced because there is no entertainment. In chapter 4, they roll a big tyre down the road with Scout inside. They also have a tree house and they play little skits. It brings me back to when I was a young child and myself and the neighbours of my age would play little games like this.
The skit that they produced was of the Radley family. They played it most of the summer and never got bored with it. They were also very discrete about it, otherwise people would gossp, as I discussed in Journal 1-3.
At the end of chapter 5, Atticus gets a hunch on what the children are actually doing. Jem tries to deny it but Atticus has a way of ?seeing through him?. This establishes that Atticus was a good lawyer.
An entertaining part of the story, I found was when Dill, Scout and Jem were sneaking through the Radley?s yard and a gun shot was fired. This scene caught my attention. When Jem, Dill and Scout come out onto the street with the rest of the community, Jem was accused of upsetting Mr. Radley by Miss Stephanie. Miss Stephanie uses a lot of racist remarks.
Racism and discrimination seem to have played a large part so early into the story. One remark, ?scared him pale though? is used along with other quotes in the same paragraph. It seems to be just a casual thing. It is a different situation from today?s society where if commitments like that were used in public, the outcome would not be favourable to whoever said it!!!
I am enjoying the book to a degree but it is not my type of book so far.
CHAPTER 7-9 To Kill a Mocking-Bird
In chapters seven to nine, we find out the tree with the ?goodies? Jem and Scout have been finding in the tree has been cemented up. Also it snows in Maycomb and Miss Maudie?s house goes up in smoke and there is a family reunion at Finch?s Landing.
The tree just outside the Radley place kept filling up with goodies for Jem and Scout but who filled it up? Boo Radley is the prime suspect but why? Is he trying to make contact with the outside world? Later into the chapter, Mr. Radley comes out and fills the hole, saying the tree was dieing when it obviously wasn?t. He is trying to stop Boo from having any contact with the outside world, but why? We do not know much of Mr. Radley but I find him to be very over-protective of his son, trying to make outside contact. I look forward to seeing if Boo comes outside.
The snow in Maycomb is the first snow they have had in 30 years. The community tends to think that Jem and Scout have caused the snow. I have found the book to have a lot of superstitious characters. Everybody is superstitious in the 1930?s. This is one example, but others include things like not killing Mocking-Birds, as well as many others.
As well as all of this, one of the most important things in the book so far is when there is a Finch family reunion. The first signs of two separate sides with black and white and the trial comes up.
To start with, Scout is hassled by Cecil Jacobs. She gets upset really easily, but doesn?t understand what is being said to her. Atticus tries to get her to not worry and ?Try fight with your head for a change?. For Christmas, Scout receives more grief, being teased by her cousin. She fights him, but not with her head which leaves her in trouble. She gets a lecture from her Uncle but in the end teaches him a lesson about kids, and Atticus does about Scout. Scout listens in and I think it changes Scout?s attitude to the trial and her father. It ends with Atticus knowing she is there, but she finds out her wanted her to hear. I was also thinking this during the speech. Maybe it would be better if Atticus told this with Scout there but the speech would?ve ended this very important chapter well.
The book isn?t turning into the adventure I thought it would, but the fire scene sort of was. The book is interesting and puts a definite picture into my head of the town and situations in it. The trial should be interesting.
CHAPTER 10 & 11 To Kill a Mocking-Bird
Chapter ten and eleven are both significant to the story. In chapter ten there is a mad dog and in chapter eleven, we meet Mrs. Dubose.
When Atticus shoots the rabid dog in the street, Scout realizes her father is like no other. He is ?One shot Finch?. Earlier in the chapter, Scout was questioning why her father did nothing while everyone else?s fathers did things with their children. It was Atticus? age that stopped him. Scout couldn?t find a quality of her father that is different to every other father. She started to lose a bit of faith, but still loved her father. She couldn?t understand why he was so old as well. It seems like Atticus had his children a little late. When Atticus shot the dog, he tried to not let his children see him as the ?One shot Finch?. Miss Maudie said ?People in their right minds never take pride in their talents?, and this is how Atticus was. He is quoted to have said; ?I have an unfair advantage?. This is why he gave up. He is a gentleman, just like Jem!
Also, we meet Mrs. Dubose from up the street. Jem, and Mrs. Dubose have a relationship where they do not like each other, but have a mutual respect for eachother. Jem would read her books and didn?t like it, but as the days went on, I think he came to enjoy the time with an old, sick person, like Mrs. Dubose. When Jem learned of how sick she was after she died, it closed that chapter of his life nicely. This is because he learnt what real courage was all about and this made him older and much wiser. Atticus also has a different relationship with Mrs. Dubose. He knows she hates him, but to keep the peace, he tries his hardest to be a curtious neighbour. This continues Atticus? perfect ways.
The trial is coming up soon and I think it will be a good part of the novel. TKMB is not quite the adventure book I proposed it to be at the beginning, but I don?t mind court room drama. The novel is good but some aspects are disappointing, and I will cover that aspect of the novel a bit later.
CHAPTER 12-15 To Kill a Mocking-Bird
Part two begins by having a build-up to the trial. Aunt Alexandra is in all the action and Jem and Scout start to take a liking to her, even though they don?t like her to start with, only respect her.
I have found Aunt Alexandra is a mother figure for Jem and Scout that they really haven?t had. She does the things a mother would do. She looks after them but also punishes them and tells them what to do. I think it is this that has taken Jem and Scout away from her.
Also, Dill, the brave little kid, who will do anything, returns because he has fled from his parents. He escaped by catching a train. It was quite an adult thing to do, but his traveling all the time makes him a more mature boy than the boy that left Scout and Jem on the last summer holidays.
These chapters have been building up to the trial of Tom Robinson. It has really split the town of Maycomb in two, Black vs. White.
In this chapter, Mr. Cunningham showed his true colours when he was one of the four men who were going to hang Tom Robinson before he was tried. He showed any black was guilty in his book and it changed my opinion of him. I didn?t know much about him before, but what I do know?. I don?t like. All men are equal!
Away from the actual story itself, and to the narrator, Scout. Scout is a very interesting person but not like other girls. She refuses to be ?ladylike?. The story comes out with her opinions and we only see and find out what she sees and finds out. If the novel was to be through someone elses eyes, it would be completely different. It would also be completely different. It would also be good to read after reading Scouts version.
CHAPTER 16-21 To Kill a Mocking-Bird
This is the trial. In these chapters we here the witnesses come up to the stand and give their testimony. It is probably the most important time of all so far in the book as we see how the events of that day are translated. We also get to see how Atticus performs in court, which I have been looking forward to for a long time.
Fisttly Mr. Ewell gives evidence and is questioned. As we find out it contradicts Mayella?s version of events. We also hear Tom?s evidence and end with Atticus? final speech to the Jury.
Tom Robinson was a physically weak man due to past injuries and would have found it hard to rape Mayella. He also seemed to be a kind man who wouldn?t hurt a fly. But this is only through the eyes of Scout as I have previously mentioned. Scout is brought up with Atticus meaning she believes what he teaches and that is to not be a racist. She has been living with Atticus, meaning she would feel differently about Tom than others would.
The biggest shock of the story comes when we find Tom is guilty of rape when we all know, or think, that he is innocent. Jem is very disappointed as the Jury took a long time, so he thinks that Tom was innocent. This verdict could be due to the jury being racist.
If Tom was found innocent, the implications it would have had on the town would have been horrendous. It is difficult to imagine what would have happened. You could carve the tension with a knife because the white folk would have wondered about the Ewells and on-top of that, the Blacks versus Whites discrimination issues of the area and era would have topped it off. Maybe it was a better thing for Maycomb if he was found guilty??
I found the end of the chapter to be quite fitting where Tom comes out with Atticus and everyone is standing (from the black community) and applauding even though they lost. They all have a lot of respect for Atticus, and what he has done for them.
CHAPTER 22 & 23 To Kill a Mocking-Bird
It is now the aftermath of the trial and we hear everybody?s reaction to the trial outcome. It is also about Jem and his ?eyes starting to open?.
In the town, not many seem to be happy. Jem is definitely upset with the result and firmly blames the jurors. Atticus is worried about Jem?s reaction to the verdict. He believes in the jury system. Personally so do I but in this case, it didn?t work and a man was sentenced to death wrongfully and it shouldn?t happen.
I think the most, interesting of all was Miss Maudies response. She says to Scout ?Your father does those unpleasant jobs for us?. Is she trying to say that she feels guilty for not trying to help more, even though there isn?t much she could have done. Or is she saying that he has ?taken out the trash? So to speak and put him away. Maybe she is racist?? I find it hard to believe but there could be a hidden message!
It is also here where we get Mr. Ewells response. He wants revenge on Atticus, even though he won the case. It is probably because he looks like a liar in front of the entire town. It would be a bad situation to be in, but he is taking it further than it needs to go. It should be over.
It is hard to imagine how Atticus must be feeling towards the whole trial saga. He has his back to the wall. He must have a lot of rumours flowing about him and being a ?nigger lover? in the towns eyes. He has put himself in a difficult place and may not live to regret defending Tom Robinson.
Also here, Jem?s eyes start to open. He sees the social classes and boundaries in Maycomb and starts to understand where people fit in. It also affects relationships between the community. It means people are selective of their friends and enemies and the barriers decide how people will be treated. The blacks are obviously on the bottom (because of the way they are treated).
CHAPTER 24-27 To Kill a Mocking-Bird
We are told of the news that Tom has been killed, this is while Aunt Alexandra is trying to make Scout a lady, again! We also hear more on Tom Robinson and learn more on Bob Ewell and his violent streak.
Firstly, when Atticus tells Aunt Alexandra of the news Tom Robinson has escaped, she is genuinely upset. I put this down to having the case of Tom Robinson grown on her, she ahd to feel upset it ended this way. Also, Aunt Alexandra?s friends come around and try to raise money for those starving in Africa, yet they are saying ?Tom got what he deserved?. They don?t care about what is happening on their front doorstep. This I find very hypocritical of Aunt Alexandra?s friends.
When the news gets around the town, the white community believe that he escaped because he was innocent, but Scout believes it is the justice system couldn?t save him and he would take the law into his own hands. It cost him his life.
We now also are led to believe that a Mocking-Bird, Tom Robinson, has been killed, which is a sin. Tom Robinson was a crippled and innocent man. He was someone who didn?t hurt anyone, he only ?sung? like a Mocking-Bird. So this makes him the Mocking-Bird of the stories title.
There is a lot of tension in Maycomb between Blacks and Whites, and Scouts teacher isn?t helping. She said that the outcome of the trial was good because it put those blacks back in their place! Jem tells Scout to drop the whole trial thing. He seems to have had enough of the pain he has been suffering through the whole trial. Even though he is trying to ignore it, I find it hard to believe that he will.
The trial dies down and Mr. Ewell gives the town a new item of gossip, as towns thrive on it. He was sacked due to drunkenness. This puts the town against him even more because he was shown as a liar. He was sacked from his WPA job, which I found was an agency during the depression which gave the unemployed jobs. This shows he was caught up in the depression, just like the Cunningham?s. I also found that not many people were fired from this agency. This shows his bad character. Since this, Bob Ewell has been on a path of destruction threatening people and stalking them. Through this, Atticus believes he won?t stick to his threat. This coming from the brave, perfect character of Harper Lee?s novel.
By the end of chapter 27, attention turns to the Halloween parade, which was lucky for Mr. Ewell. And also Scout has to dress up as a ham!
CHAPTER 28 & 29 To Kill a Mocking-Bird
These two chapters are the most exciting in the whole novel.
It begins with a ?lame? Halloween party, at which Scout would have been scared at a couple of years ago and shows she has matured, then humiliating herself at the Halloween party. This sparks an unbelievable chain of events.
Jem and the ham (Scout in a suit) are walking home when they are attacked! It is dark and nothing can be seen. The attack occurs and then Scout sees a man lying dead. It is Bob Ewell.
Jem is carried back to the house, Scout close in pursuit. He has broken his arms. Scout wonders who saved Jem and herself, it is Boo Radley.
Boo Radley?s appearance is well timed. He finally makes an appearance and Scout knows who he is after thinking about it. Seeing a man who had been locked away for his life would be strange to see. I am surprised that anyone could live like that and be alive! His appearance shows that he is only just surviving. The weakness, and how skinny his, plus his pale white body say it all.
CHAPTER 30 & 31 To Kill a Mocking-Bird
Well, the end has arrived. It begins with Atticus and Mr. Tate questioning who did the stabbing. They conclude that it was Boo, but a false report is written protecting Boo, not from the law, but publicity, even if it is for being a hero.
Personally, I agree with what Mr. Tate did. He has protected an innocent man, which is OK. But this can be a bad thing. What if jurors knew Tom was innocent but saved the Ewell?s the embarrassment, trying to protect them? If this always occurred, the justice system would not be working. So bending the rules in some cases, such as Boo is OK, but the law is the law and at all times should be obeyed.
The incident with Mr. Ewell brings out Boo Radley. This is funny seeing as it was Jem and Scout?s childhood dream. Scout ends up entertaining Boo and decides ?Boo? is not the right name for what she sees in him and decides to call him Mr. Arthur.
Scout returns home and picks up a scary book of Jems. Atticus refuses to read it because enough scary things have happened on that day! Scout finishes by saying ?Nothin? is scary except in books?. By this, I think she meant that books cannot have a physical effect, rather a mental effect on you. They are the only things that can have power over your mind.
Scout goes to sleep and never sees Mr. Arthur again.
This is the end of the story, but looking back, we already know the ending after reading the first paragraph. It says that Jem breaks his arm and it is Mr. Ewell?s fault. This is a great introduction because it leaves it in the back of your mind and fits in perfectly to the ending stages of the book?.. Well done.
Through the story we grow up with Scout. She is a country girl who refuses to be a lady! To start with, she is an innocent girl but as we grow with her, it becomes experiences that we have with her.
PERSONAL THOUGHTS To Kill a Mocking-Bird
Personally I believe the novel dragged on longer than it had to. I also think that the story was quite well written to what the Negroes in Southern, North America had to put up with like the courts not even being fair on an innocent man because they are black. Although the novel had its faults, it was a good read and I mostly enjoyed reading the court scene and attack scene. I am sure that many people would agree. Also, I found, the predictability of Boo being revealed a little too easy. I believe an alternative ending that was not as obvious would have concluded the novel better.