As I began reading this book, I kept thinking of the background information that I had heard before reading this book. At first I was told that there was a lot of controversy on the theme of the book, as well as on the language. So when I first heard such language as “nigger” I was not very surprised. I started thinking that this language was for the use of the author to prove a point, most likely of the perspectives people had in the south at this time. I am sure that racism is a very important theme in the book.
Furthermore when I started reading this book, I was somewhat confused. The main character of Jean Louise to me seemed like a boy. It was only till her brother, Jem, referred to him having a sister, did I understand. However I think my confusion is justified since Jem does speak to Jean Louise as “Scout” and is always saying, “You’re acting more like a girl everyday.” It is quite obvious that Jean Louise is a tomboy. I think her act of being a tomboy is reflective of her bringing-up. Her father, Atticus, has alone sheltered her and she does not have a mother for guidance.
A character that I thought was quite interesting was Dill. He seemed like such a random, yet cute character. One day Jem and Scout just found him on a doorstep and initially, I thought he would be a somewhat annoying character that would act as a tag-along to Jem and Scout, but I was wrong. He actually brought entertainment to the novel. For instance when he dared Jem to go up to Boo Radley’s home and touch the wall of the house because he thought Jem was too scared.
The points in the book where Scout goes to school stood out to me. From the point of view of her teacher, Scout seemed like a rebelling sort of child, but I don’t think Scout was acting out on purpose. Like when Scout reacted to Walter Cunningham not having lunch and his somewhat poverty type status, Miss Caroline gave Scout about half a dozen pats with a ruler and sent her to the corridor. I started thinking that if this kind of discipline was still allowed, how quieter class would be, though I still do not approve of such acts especially towards such young children.
I had not heard much about this novel before reading it; therefore, I had no clue how the story would begin, build, or end. The first chapter was confusing and I did not really see what the author, Ms. Lee, was trying to portray. As I continued on, I came across some profanity; however, it did not shock me in any particular way because the novel was written back in the 1940s and much has changed since then.
From meeting Scout in the novel, I was reminded of my grade nine year spent at Killarney. Through the school year, I actually met a few tomboys and we became somewhat friends. I thought that they weren’t any different from other girls besides the fact that they dressed and acted in a more masculine way. They were just as friendly and easy-going as any other person I knew. I think that one reason girls want to be a tomboy is that they may feel stronger and more confident in themselves. As long as they are happy with being who they want to be, society should accept them like they accept all other boys and girls.
I absolutely agree that being brought up without a mother contributed to Scout’s act of being a tomboy. It seemed as though the family was incomplete-there was only a father, but no mother. In other words, the family lacked the feminine side, which would supposedly balance the genders. Although not mentioned in this novel, there are various novels out there which emphasize the idea of incomplete families. In previous novels which I had read, the author s described how it was like to be a motherless child, to face the pressure from others, as well as from their inner self. Other children would poke fun at them. After reading these novels, I feel so fortunate…because I know that I live in such a wonderful world, such a warm family, and also have privileges that many other do not have. Honestly, I feel a great sense of appreciation and gratefulness.
Nowadays, teachers in most countries are restricted from harming any student in any way, no matter how mild it may be. I feel that time has changed our ways. Generation after generation, there has been alterations in human conduct. In grade five, I attended a fieldtrip to the Burnaby Heritage Museum. It consisted of a historic school, several old houses, a restaurant completely made from wood, and so on. One of the students who came on the fieldtrip with us was quite rebellious. So while we entered the historic schoolhouse, there was a lady teacher, and since the rebellious student was continuous arguing with and disrespecting the teacher, she took out a ruler and whacked her palm a few times. Soon after, she ordered her to stand in a corner. Of course, if our community was still like that today, children would most likely be less rebellious due to strict ways of teaching.
As a result, I think that our world would be more or less safer because exposing someone to strictness starting at a young age may help to prevent them from committing crimes in the future, such as stealing. I believe that it is always better to start off right the first time, so you won’t have to turn back after realizing your mistakes, having to start over again. After all, there aren’t many chances in life for us to start over. Unlike mistyping a word, there is no ‘backspace’ key in real life.
Response #2: Chapters 6 to 11
Children have a natural sense of curiosity. They want to learn of the place they live in, to explore the immense realms of the world, to see and hear everything for themselves. Instead of being told what is going on, children prefer to be at the place when something happens. In chapter six, Scout and Jem decided to peek into the Radley’s house, although they knew better not to. Entering someone else’s property could cause them trouble; however, their curious minds tempted them into sneaking onto the Radley’s lawn anyway. At their age, they would not understand certain things. Their lives were simple and free of worry.
Arthur Boo Radley seemed to be a very unknown and mysterious character. The author, Ms. Lee, portrayed him in a way which I found to be particularly strange and peculiar. Personally, I had the feeling that Arthur Boo Radley was not a very pleasant person to be around with. In our community, it is quite rare to have someone never step outside their house. In the novel, Arthur Boo Radley was one of those rare people. Somehow, he still managed to place presents into the tree for Scout and Jem without anyone seeing him. When Arthur’s brother, Nathan, plugged the tree with cement, the children were extremely sad. One, it was the end of their presents, and two, it also ended Arthur’s attempt at being friends with the children.
“It’s bad children like you makes the seasons change” is a superstition some people have, especially elder people. Chinese people often say that weather alterations are caused by human behaviour as well. For example, thunder represents punishment. There is a Chinese saying that “Being aware that you’ve done evil, be sure to hide when you hear thunder” meaning that the thunder has come to strike them down.
In chapter nine, Scout went through a lot of struggling. After having been insulted by Cecil Jacobs, insults from Cousin Francis were hurled at her. Scout wanted to stand up for Atticus, but she knew she had to keep calm. Here, both types of conflicts were shown. Externally, she fought against Cecil and Francis. Internally, she fought herself.
“I’ll never speak to you again as long as I live! I hate you an’ despise you an’ hope you die tomorrow!” would be a little too strong of words to say. But young children would not know any better. I related this to my own childhood when my parents constantly reminded me, “Be careful of what you say. Some things that leave your mouth, you cannot hope to take back.”
Mrs. Dubose died of illness and age, but it was not completely a bad thing. Since she was suffering quite badly, perhaps dying would end her pain. When my uncle died last year due to cancer, of course everybody was grief-stricken, but then again, maybe it was better off for him-to end his suffering there. That is why we should always keep in mind that we should do what we can for someone before we lose the chance to do so. As someone had said, “Regret is insight that comes a day too late.”
I agree that Mr. Boo Radley seems to be a very mysterious person, but I believe that his character will have a positive impact to the end of the story. I feel that he is a nice person just with some personal feelings towards the outside world. It was indeed very saddening when Nathan plugged up the hole in the tree with cement. At first it looked like Boo Radley had found some friends that he could have spent time with, but that thought was diminished after the hole had been filled.
I had never heard that there was a Chinese superstition about weather, especially about the thunder part. I think that that quote from the book was representative of the expectations from the adults of the children.
I think that when Scout said the words of “I hate you and I hope you die,” she was being a bit naï¿½ve and stubborn. Even I remember such incidents in my home when I became very angry with my parents and brother. I even sometimes would be so angry to break and throw things. So I think the way Scout handled things was expected, particularly because she is such a young child.
I also think that the death of Mrs. Dubose was a positive sign to indicate the right time of when people should leave this earth. So in agreement with my partner, her suffering was probably worsening and sometimes it’s the right time to let people go. That does not mean people should not grieve, but should just be more accepting of loss.
Response #3: Chapters 12 to 17
This section began with Calpurnia taking Jem and Scout to her church. The moment they stepped into the church a black woman named Lula intercepted their welcome. At first I felt scared for the children because it seemed that this woman would make a riot of these two white children coming to a “black” church. I was glad when Calpurnia stood up for them and had the power to make Lula step off the subject.
Later in this section, I was very unhappy to hear of Aunt Alexandra’s arrival. She seems like a very strict aunt wanting everyone to do things the way she wanted. She also seems like the kind of person who cares a great deal of what everyone thinks of herself and her family. As whole she gives the impression that she is a narcissistic and self-absorbed person, which I think will not bode well with Atticus’ family. I absolutely hate her racist comments about Calpurnia and Tom Robinson. She goes on to tell how the case could ruin the family’s reputation and I felt disgusted that she could only care about her status when a man’s life is at stake.
The part of the book that I thought was most intensifying was when Atticus is trying to protect Tom Robinson, while his children are watching him. During the scene when Scout interfered with the arguments, she seemed to have an innocent appeal to her and I think that was why the gang of men backed down. Specifically, Scout made it a point to talk to Mr. Cunningham about his son. I thought talking about his son made Mr. Cunningham be somewhat emotional towards the whole situation. This is also the point where we hear Tom Robinson’s first words in the novel. I thought this was a significant part in the book, as it seems that Tom will soon become a character with a lot of importance.
At the end of this scene, I was also surprised that Atticus was not mad after his children had snuck out of bed to come see him. I don’t think that he was just being a lazy parent, but that he saw maturity in Jem after he refused to leave Atticus alone with these men and I think he was proud, as well.
The beginning of the trial also began in this section. Atticus seemed very suave as he questioned the witnesses. Some of the questions appeared useless, but as a lawyer, I ‘m sure he knew what he was doing. One could tell that he was planting a seed that could eventually lead to accusing Mr. Ewell of beating Mayella. I thought it was actually quite humorous when Judge Taylor told Mr. Ewell to keen his language “within the confines of Christian English usage.” I think this shows Mr. Ewell’s lack of respect and education towards society with women and children in the court. I am very curious to know what Mayella and Tom will have to say when they get to the witness stand.
I actually had an exact opposite view from you. Hearing of Aunt Alexandra’s arrival, I was quite glad and expecting a positive change in the Finch family. The aunt’s arrival meant that the Finch family would live a more balanced lifestyle. Atticus would have someone to help him, especially with looking after Scout and Jem. The children would benefit as well because Aunt Alexandra would act like their mother, and they would gradually accept her. There isn’t anybody in this world who is liked by everyone else.
My mom used to tell me, and still does once in a while, that children who lack one of their parents are more likely to lock themselves away from the outer world. They feel that they cannot face reality. They would often ask themselves, “Why do all my friends live in such a perfect family? They’ve got a dad and a mom. How come my life is so terrible?” These thoughts would cause their minds to develop in a rather unstable manner. According to statistics, it is true that these people are more likely to develop mental illnesses, which is totally unfair. First they have to deal with a shattered family, and next their depression and breakdown.
I feel that Atticus is a marvelous father. He carefully chooses which things he wants to do and that he will not later regret. Personally, I view Atticus to be a father who does not really exist in our society. The author, Ms. Lee, seems to express Atticus as a patient protective guide, teaching valuable life lessons to his children while working for money to support them at the same time. When Jem and Scout have an argument, Atticus always enters and tries to resolve it. As the father of two kids, he cannot take on one child’s side because the other child would feel hurt; therefore, he has to work out the problems without causing misery to either side. He is shown with incomparable qualities.
Response #4: Chapters 18 to 24
Throughout chapters 18 to 21, there was a full description of what happened inside the courtroom, dealing with the Tom Robinson case. One idea which caught my mind was “white people wouldn’t have anything to do with her because she lived among pigs. Negroes wouldn’t have anything to do with her because she was white.” Back in the 1940s, racism was a huge issue. It still is. As much as our society has improved, we still need to work on resolving racist matters. It seems as though there is a line drawn between races, when there should not be. There really isn’t anything different between all humans besides the skin colour and culture. Otherwise, we’re all the same-we live in the same world, we all need family, friends, and love.
I believe that not only in Chinese culture, but in other cultures as well, that the four basic concepts of life are respect, love, unity, and peace. First, we need to understand that these concepts come together. With respect between everyone, love grows. With love between everyone, we are most likely to come to agreement and live in unity. With everyone united, we would have peace. Following these four concepts is just like constructing a tower. You start of with a simple base and hope to build upwards. If anything goes wrong in the process, we would achieve an unwanted product-an indication of failure.
In the courtroom, the two sides told their own version of the story. The plaintiff was a white person and the defendant was a black person. No matter how strong the evidence the black person provided and how weak the evidence the white person provided, the white person always won. Was there a reason? Not really… just because whites always won. For a change, what if the plaintiff was black and the defendant was white? Then the defendant would win the case? I guess inequality In society can never be absolutely eliminated. There is no definite solution, but if we tried harder to treat everyone equally, we would be headed off in a positive direction already.
Everyone has a good side and a bad side. A person can be selfish and stubborn, but they can at the same time have positive attributes such as intelligence. Last year in social studies class, I learned that there was once a man who lived in the Renaissance whose name was Rousseau. He was a French philosophe who had their own opinion of society. Rousseau was a lower class man and believed in the “natural” law. This “natural” law consisted of the idea that people are born pure and good, but are destroyed by the world they live in-the government and modern society. He claimed that everyone is born good and clean, but after coming through the long path of dirt and filth, they grow to become evil and tarnished.
All along, I felt that Tom Robinson symbolized a mockingbird. He was clearly innocent and had done nothing wrong. Perhaps, his only wrongdoing was being too kind. If he had not been kind enough to help Mayella Ewell do her chores, he would not be involved in such trouble. A mockingbird represented purity and innocence, and Tom Robinson had both these characteristics. As a result, Tom Robinson died in chapter 24, meaning the mockingbird was killed. He was destroyed by the evil.
Death seemed to repeat itself in the novel. Mrs. Dubose died, ending her pain and suffering of illness. Tom Robinson died, ending his pain and suffering of being locked up in jail. In other words, it was better off for them both to leave the cruel world. Mrs. Dubose had lost her right to health. Tom Robinson had lost his right to freedom. Without health or freedom, living would be bitter.
It is true that there is a very fine line between people whom unknowingly put-down people of other races and people who know willingly that they are being racist. As my partner said, skin colour should not make a difference in everyday life. Every person needs certain essentials in life, like love. Her points are very true, as well as very philosophical.
In the courtroom, I, as the reader, felt more towards the black, poor man with a wife and children at home. Firstly his story was a lot more realistic, because I doubt if a black man, at these times, would not be afraid of the consequences of raping a young women. The inequality is evidently the highlight of this setting in the courtroom because it brings the reader to think a lot about these circumstances and how things have so greatly changed over time. I would also like to add that the part considering the left and right side of which Mayella was hit was quite interesting. I was very surprised to hear the Tom Robinson was crippled. It made me think that the jury was being very selfish towards what they thought was the right thing to do. However it did take the jury a few hours to come up with a verdict. I guess that proves that Atticus’ fight had some impact on the jury, as well as others in the courtroom.
I think my partner’s reference to Rousseau is a good example to relate to this novel. The connection was very interesting. Society in the culture of the south was what seemed to have finally killed Tom in the end. He could not take the bitter circumstances, which is what eventually led him to death.
Response #5: Chapters 25 to 31
I think the death of Tom Robinson did not affect the town, as maybe it should have. In many ways the town just went back to their normal routine. I feel that this happened because of Tom’s skin colour. It seemed that there was not a normal mourning period done by the town except for a small editorial in the newspaper. I felt bad that this small town acted this way.
After such long chapters, a reference was made to the Radley Place and I started wondering when Boo Radley would finally make a move to come out of his house. I figured that this character is significant enough to at least do something at the end of story. I doubted that the author would leave such a mystery at the end of the novel.
Since these last chapters basically represent the concluding action after the climax, I found some of the dialogue very boring. However, what caught my eye was Tom’s widowed wife, Helen, and how she must now support her family with help from an employer, Mr. Link Deas. I thought it was very kind of him to give work to Helen. I also thought it was nice of him to look after her when he heard news that she was being harassed by Mr. Ewell. Helen is very vulnerable and defenseless at this time, so I’m glad that Mr. Link Deas is there for her protection.
The play was also quite interesting because it brought humor to the story. I thought it was very funny that Scout would be dressing up as a ham with chicken wire and other costumes, like a cow, a butterbean, and a peanut. The teacher was definitely getting imaginative and creative with her agriculture products. Another thing that Scout did was go to a House of Horrors, which was associated with her play. The House of Horrors reminded me of Fright Night at Playland during Halloween. Though the only difference is that Scout and Cecil were not scared, but my friends and I were screaming throughout each trip into the haunted houses.
The whole incident when Scout and Jem were walking home happened really quickly and I didn’t entirely understand what was going on till Scout explained the story to Atticus. Apparently it was Mr. Arthur Radley who saved them from Mr. Ewell. I was quite happy to read that a knife had been stuck up into Mr. Ewell’s ribs and that had killed him. This was a pleasant moment for me, especially since it appeared that he was planning on killing Atticus’ family first. Mr. Arthur Radley also looked like a very nice man, but one who just kept to himself most of the time. After this meeting, I felt bad for Mr. Radley because of the way Jem and Scout use to make fun of him.
I noticed that the language during the novel is very obviously different from today. For example, the children call the elder ones as Mr. or Mrs. and then their first name. I also noticed that the author purposely tried to incorporate a southern accent in all the characters. I believe that this was a good idea because it helped set the tone and mood of the story.
Lastly, I remember in the beginning of the book, when the children received guns as a Christmas gift, it was quoted, “To kill a mockingbird is a sin.” As a black person, I believe that at this time his existence was as important as a mockingbird’s. One can easily get over the death of a mockingbird and therefore the town could easily forget the significance of a black man who was shot to death.
Just because Tom Robinson was black, no appreciation was shown towards him. He was stepped all over, crushed to pieces, but nobody seemed to care. In the novel, the majority of the population was white people. They were at the top of the societal ladder because they possessed all the power. In the medieval times, there were hierarchical scales, ranking the different social classes. Currently, this type of ranking still continues, although everyone knows it should not. As seen, people such as Aunt Alexandra, Cecil Jacobs, and Cousin Francis hurled insults at Atticus when he tried to help Tom Robinson. These powerful white people were completely unwilling to aid the blacks when they needed help (with the exception of Atticus).
While we have the opportunity to help someone, we should do so. In the novel, Atticus said to Scout, “maybe you’ll look back on this with some compassion and some feeling that I didn’t let you down. This case, Tom Robinsons’ case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience.” He says this decisively and assertively, showing that he would defend this black man no matter how others discouraged him from doing so.
Personally, I believe that there is karma. Bob Ewell was an untrustworthy and awful man, so in return, he got what he deserved. He had warned Atticus to be careful because he would get him even if it took the rest of his life. His attitude was just sickening and made me dislike him even more. In the end, he was believed to have fallen and stabbed himself with his own knife. He died in his own hands, which supports the belief of karma since he had done evil deeds all his life.