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“To Kill A Mockingbird” Reading Journal Essay

1) Choose one complex character from the novel. Using quotations from the text as supporting evidence, examine and explain the devices used by the author to create this complex character. Then, describe how this character has contributed to the development of the plot in Chapters 7-11.

Scout is a complex character in the novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”. From the beginning of the story, Scout goes against the stereotype of the “prissy little girl that plays with her dolls.” She prefers to play with Jem and Dill instead. She prefers to wear denim overalls instead of dresses. Throughout the story, her interactions with others help her grow up from a more wrongful thinking child into a wonderful, thoughtful one. In the beginning of the story, Scout is talking to Miss Maudie and says, “Jem said that maybe he died and they stuffed him up in the chimney.” This angers Miss Maudie because Scout does not understand what she can and cannot say about people. By the end of the story, Scout realizes what her words and actions can do to others. She is able to comprehend the concept that Atticus told her that is “climbing into his skin and walking around it.”

During chapters 7-11, Scout and Jem notice that the knothole in a tree has been filled and react in different ways. While Jem is very upset about it since that was Boo Radley’s way of trying to be friendly to outsiders, Scout is more disappointed but not heartbroken. This acts as a comparison to see how Jem is growing up and starting to learn to think about the situation from the other person’s point of view. Later on, Scout gets into two confrontations with people who insulted Atticus because he was defending Tom Robinson. From the first confrontation, she is taught by Atticus that even though you may not win something, you should still fight it to the end to uphold what you believe in.

Examining Language as a Means of Establishing Historical and Cultural Context 1) Select a text excerpt from Chapters 7-11 that demonstrates the author’s use of language patterns or word choice to establish the historical and/or cultural context of the novel. Post the text excerpt that you have selected into the space provided below. Then, explain how the author uses either language patterns or word choice in the excerpt to give the reader clues about the time period in which the novel is set or the nature of the culture in which the story occurs.

“”Scout,” said Atticus, “nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything – like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain – ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It’s slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.” “You aren’t really a nigger lover, then, are you?”

“I certainly am, I do my best to love everybody… I’m hard put, sometimes – baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody think’s is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.”” (11. 144)

In this excerpt, the author’s use of language patterns and word choice lets readers know that the story takes place in the South a long time ago. This is because the language the author uses is informal and not one that people would use today. The author’s use of word choice let’s us know that the story takes place in an area where racism is still a very big issue. It is even stated in the excerpt that people who think when somebody wants to put the rights of black people over themselves used “nigger-lover”. However, Atticus only wants equality and that terms like this do not hurt you because they are just names.

Examining Allusions

1) Review Chapters 7-11 of the novel, locating one allusion within the text that helped to clarify your understanding of an element or elements of the novel (example character, setting, plot, etc). Post the text excerpt that contains this allusion into the space provided below. Then, explain why this text excerpt represents an allusion and indicate what this allusion helps you learn about one or more elements within the novel.

“”You sound like Cousin Ike Finch,” I said. Cousin Ike Finch was Maycomb County’s sole surviving Confederate veteran. He wore a General Hood type beard of which he was inordinately vain. At least once a year Atticus, Jem and I called on him, and I would have to kiss him. It was horrible. Jem and I would listen respectfully to Atticus and Cousin Ike rehash the war. “Tell you, Atticus,” Cousin Ike would say, “the Missouri Compromise would have licked us, but if I had to go through it again I’d walk every step of the way there an’ every step back jist like I did before an’ furthermore we’d whip ‘em this time… now in 1864, when Stonewall Jackson came around by- I beg your pardon, young folks. Ol’ Blue Light was in heaven then, God rest his saintly brow…” “Come here, Scout,” said Atticus. I crawled into his lap and tucked my head under his chin. He put his arms around me and rocked me gently. “it’s different this time,” he said. “This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is our home.” (9. 100)

The allusion shown in this excerpt is that the Civil War was recent enough that veterans were still alive. This let’s us know about the time that this story takes place. Knowing that it is the 1930s, we are able to understand why racism is a big issue there. This allusion also helps us understand how Atticus thinks, as tells Scout that even though there is a racial battle going on, that everybody are still humans and Americans at the end of the day.

Short Answer Question

1) Jem is particularly disturbed, not by Mrs. Dubose’s death, but by the gift she leaves him—a blossom from her Snow-on-the-Mountain camellia plant. Reflect upon this incident, explaining what you believe to be Mrs. Dubose’s true reason for giving Jem this gift. Then, explain why this message was so upsetting to Jem.

I think that Mrs. Dubose’s true reasoning for giving Jem the camellia blossom was to show him that even though they were beaten down, the camellias would still grow unless pulled from the root. This symbolizes what Mrs. Dubose had to deal with and what Atticus is dealing with. Mrs. Dubose was suffering from her morphine addiction and although she could have stopped being sober from morphine, she braved the storm and died clean. Even though Atticus is dealing with all the controversy surrounding him defending a black man, he is still going to fight to defend his cause. I think that this message was so upsetting to Jem because it was one of his first experiences with learning something like that. He learned that while she seemed mean, that she was still trying to teach them about the complexity of humans. That no matter how much you are beaten down, that you are still able to overcome it.

2) As children grow and mature, it is not uncommon for their understanding of their parents to shift and change. The plot of To Kill a Mockingbird reflects many shifts in the way that Jem and Scout view their father. Reviewing what you have read in Chapters 7-11, identify the incident that you believe has the most profound effect on the way the children view their father. Then, describe the effect that this incident has, explaining why.

The experience with Tim Johnson the dog has left a big impact on how the kids view Atticus. From this event, both Scout and Jem learn something new about Atticus and something that is very contrasting with his personality. Scout thought that compared to the fathers of her classmates, Atticus was boring. However she learns that there are things to be proud of Atticus for. Jem understands and tells Scout that there are things that Atticus doesn’t want them to know about him. That no matter how much you think you know about somebody, that there is always something that is hidden. When Miss Maudie’s house catches on fire in chapter 8, Boo was the one who gave Scout a blanket. Despite Scout, Jem, and Atticus learning this, they decide to keep it amongst themselves

3) In spite of the fact that she is their relative, Aunt Alexandra is a harsh critic of both Scout and Atticus. To better understand Aunt Alexandra’s often severe personality, adopt the advice that Atticus offers Scout in Chapter 3 of the novel when she is angry with Miss Caroline—that it’s impossible to understand a person until you look at things from their point of view. Writing from Aunt Alexandra’s point of view (using the pronoun I and pretending as though you are Aunt Alexandra), explain the reasons behind some of her more questionable actions in an attempt to find valid reasons for Aunt Alexandra’s harsh treatment of her relatives.

4) Jem’s attitude towards Arthur “Boo” Radley undergoes a change in Chapters 7-11 of the novel. Starting with Chapter 7 and going through Chapter 11, explain the evolution that occurs in terms of how Jem feels about Arthur, identifying at least three critical events that cause his opinion to change.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Jem and Scout’s attitude towards Boo Radley changed. In chapter 7, Scout and Jem see the things that Boo Radley left for them in the knothole in the tree. Jem acknowledges that Boo Radley is trying to make contact with others and have them think differently of him. When the knothole gets filled with cement, Jem gets upset and cries because he knows that Boo has lost his way of communicating with them. In chapter 8, when Miss Maudie’s house caught on fire, it was Boo that gave Scout a blanket when she was cold.

When they talk to Atticus about this, Jem feels that Boo has been deprived of a way of communicating with the outside world and deals with his first experience of trying to understand that there is both good and bad within a person. This is because while he says that Nathan Radley is crazy, he has never hurt them and probably never will. Throughout these chapters, Jem begins to see Boo as less of a monster in the neighborhood and more of a shy person who has been depraved of his way of trying to make friends.

5) Scout’s understanding of and attitude towards Calpurnia undergoes a change in Chapters 7-11 of the novel. Starting with Chapter 7 and going through Chapter 11, explain the evolution that occurs in terms of how Scout feels about Calpurnia, identifying at least three critical events that cause her opinion to change.

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