To Kill A Mocking Bird

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade October 2001

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English Kolin Wang To Kill A Mockingbird October 11 2001 To Kill A Mockingbird is a fictitious novel which portrays the attitude of southern culture, and a little girl growing up. This story is told in the first person by Scout (Jean Finch) who is the daughter of Atticus Finch, a lawyer in Maycomb, Alabama. Scout lives in a residential part of town with Atticus, her older brother Jem, and Calpurnia the cook, who is insistent on bringing up the children properly. Every summer Scout''s companion Dill comes from Mississippi to visit his Aunt Rachel. The story opens with Scout recalling her brother Jem breaking his arm when he was 13. Scout begins to describe the town as the old, tired town Maycomb is. Scout also begins to describe Calpurnia in detail mentioning how fragile and old she was, and the fact that she always won any type of argument.

Chapter one is also where Scout and Jem first meet Dill and the mystery of Boo Radley is explained. The Radley house is described as old and rain-rotted, surrounded by overgrown Johnson grass and rabbit tobacco. According to the neighborhood legend Arthur (Boo) and the Cunningham brothers hung around the town drinking and causing trouble. No one however had the nerve to tell Mr. Radley that Boo was hanging out with the wrong crowd. One night when they were drunk they were arrested and charged for disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, assault and battery, and resisting arrest. The boys were sentenced to the state''s industrial school, which was actually the best secondary education in the state. Mr. Radley however considered it to be a disgrace to have a Radley go there and instead he gave his word that Arthur would make no more trouble. It was thought that Boo was confined to the house because he wasn''t seen for the next 15 years. There was a day however that Boo was heard and seen by many people. When Boo was 33 he was cutting up the Sunday Tribune, pasting articles into his scrapbook when he then stabbed his father in the leg, wiped the scissors on his pants and resumed his activities. Boo was then locked in the basement of the county courthouse and remained there until the town council told Mr. Radley that he had to take him back, before he died from the dampness. Boo was then again kept inside, and the Radley family was hardly ever seen. Dill was fascinated by the Radley place and dared Jem just to put his foot in the yard. Dill and Jem were trying to devise a way to get him to come out without him ""gorging there eyes out"". Dill suggested to set the Radley place on fire but Jem threatened to tell Atticus if he did. Scout and Dill finally convinced Jem to enter the Radley yard and touch the side of the house. He did and for just a moment he saw an inside shutter move. After Dill leaves at the summer''s close, Scout begins her first year at school. She makes her first encounter with Miss Caroline, described as looking and smelling like a peppermint drop. As Scout read the alphabet Miss Caroline became concerned and asked her to read My First Reader. She told Scout not to have her father teach her reading anymore. As lunch time came she dismissed the students who ate home and asked to see the others'' lunches. Every one had lunch except for Walter Cunningham. Miss Caroline gave him a quarter to go to town with, but he gave it back. Scout then tried to explain Walter''s financial situation. She mentioned that they never borrowed anything that they couldn''t pay back and that Walter would never have a lunch. Scout was punished for her interference with a dozen ruler-wacks. That night Atticus tried to interpret some of the confusing events Scout experienced that day. He explained that he once defended the Cunninghams and was never paid in money, but always found wood, hickory nuts, and holly on there back porch. Atticus also explained how the crash hit them hardest because they were farmers. Because the farmers were poor the professionals were also now poor. Atticus also talks about prejudging people and how you cant judge someone ""until you climb into his skin and walked around in it."" Throughout the novel Scout returns to this concept and tries to see things from others'' point of view. As the end of the school year began to roll around, Scout began to find gifts in the tree in the Radley yard. First gum and then two Indian-head pennies, which hints the reader that Boo is trying to be friends in his own way. After a summer of playing games, mostly concerning Boo Radley, the three decide to peek into the window of the Radley house. While they are trying, old Mr. Radley comes out and fires a shot into the air. As the children fled in terror Jem caught his pants on the fence. After hearing the shot Atticus and other concerned neighbors came outside to see what was going on. The children explained that Mr. Radley was shooting at a prowler. When Atticus asked Jem where his pants were, he said that they were playing strip poker. Humorously, Scout turns to Jem and asks, ""What''s strip poker?"" A few days later Jem returns to get his pants and discovers that someone had mended them. During the next few weeks they continue to find gifts in the hole in the tree until Mr. Radley cements it up. They then discover that there opinions of Boo had been wrong and he is probably a nice person. During the town''s coldest winter, Mrs. Maudy''s house burnt down and the children were stranded outside in the cold. Someone then puts a blanket around Scout''s shoulders and only later does she realize it was Boo Radley. The next day at school Scout is told that her dad is a ""nigger-lover"" and can not understand the meaning. When she arrives home Atticus explains that he is defending a Negro accused of rape. At the family Christmas party Scout breaks her promise to Atticus and gets into a fight defending him. During chapter ten Scout learns the difference in courage. Atticus explained that courage is doing something when you know your going to loose. The title of the book is also introduced in chapter ten when Jem and Scout get air guns for Christmas. Atticus warns the children not to kill a mockingbird because, ""Mockingbirds do nothing but sing their hearts out for us."" Disobeying their father the children went to the courthouse to see Tom Robertson''s trial and sat in the colored section because the white section was filled. The trial began with Atticus questioning Heck Tate, the county sheriff. He explained how Mr. Ewell flagged him down as he was leaving his office and they proceeded to drive to the Ewells'' residence. Atticus then asked if anyone called a doctor. For Mr. Ewell''s daughter Then he heavily inquired Heck Tate about which eye of Mr. Ewell''s daughter was blackened. After hearing these testimonies, he proved that it would be physically impossible for Tom to inflict these injuries, because his left arm was totally useless. The fact that Atticus made a liar out of a Mr. Ewell made him promise ""to get even with him."" Even though Tom was found guilty, it was obvious to the children he was innocent. Atticus attempts to explain the trial to the children and tell them to step into Mr. Ewell''s shoes and consider things from his point of view. Jem tries to understand how such an injustice could take place and realizes that perhaps Boo is right to stay locked up in his house. At the end of chapter twenty-seven Scout is informed, at her first ladies'' party, Tom was killed trying to escape. Slowly and gradually the community settles down. After the school Christmas pageant is over, Jem and Scout are walking home and are attacked by a man who tries to kill them. Another person appears from the shadows and saves them. Jem''s arm is now broken, as foreshadowed in chapter one. In a few minuets Scout realizes that they were saved by Boo Radley. This is the final reassurance for Scout that the once strange neighbor is actually a very nice person. The whole novel mainly addresses Scout maturing. She has developed from a young person, tormenting her mysterious neighbor to a mature young adult who respects him. She finally understands that bringing Boo to trial would be killing a harmless mockingbird. Now, Scout has undergone a series of learning experiences which made me appreciate her tremendous growth throughout the novel.



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