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To Kill A Mocking Bird – Notes on the Characters, Setting and Chapter 1

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Brief Notes On What Happens In Chapter One:

– when Jem was 13 he broke his arm at elbow. His left arm was shorter than his left arm and so his thumb pointed at right angles to his body

– Jem – 10 years old – from Macomb

– Scout – 6 years old – from Macomb – narrator of story

– Dill – 7 years old – from Meridian, Mississippi

– Atticus – Layer (defends Negros) parent of Jem and Scout

– Scout and jems mum dies when Scout was 2 (she was 15 years younger than Atticus)

– Calpurnia – cook – strict

– Chapter one is set during summer – when it was very hot – Scout says ‘ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps and by night fall were like soft cup cakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum’

– Jem, Scout and Atticus’ house was on main residential street

– Scout and Jems summer boundaries were from Mrs Lafayette Dubose’s house two doors to the North to the Radley place three doors to the South

– Dill stayed with his aunt (Miss Rachel) during the summer holidays, it was Dills’ idea to make Mr Radley Come out. Dill played parts of Jem and Scout’s Plays

– Over summer Scout Jem and Dill improved their Tree House

– Negro would not pass Radley house at night – they would pass to other side of road and whistle

– Pecan trees shook Pecan’s onto local school yard, the pecans were untouched. A ball hit into the Radley place was a lost ball

– Mr Radley locked Aurthur in the house for 15 years

– At end of chapter one Jem ran up to Radley house and hit door because Dill bet dared him to although he ran out the gate not looking back.

– Calpurnia commented ‘there goes the meanest man that god blew breath into’ about a white man (Mr Radley) which was odd to jem


– Maycomb is an old town this is proved by scouts description “an old tired town when I first knew it.”

– The town was calm, no one hurried and there was no threat. Proof of this is when scout notes “there was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb” this also proves to us that Maycomb was poor farming town.

– There was a vague optimism tho as Maycomb had been told it had no threat (‘nothing to fear but fear itself’)

– Maycomb was provincial

– Insular (ignorant of or uninterested in cultures, ideas, or peoples outside one’s own experience)

– Incestuous / in-bred

The Radley Place:

– personification is used to describe Radley place: to fence is referred to as ‘a picket drunkenly gaurdind the front yard’ and the house was ‘droopey and sick’ (pg 14 + 21)

– We were told dill stands ‘a safe distance’ from the Radley place… Why isnt it safe to go any closer ?

– ‘Radley pecans would kill you’ this quotation again gives a negative view on the Radley place

– We learn about Boos’s (Arthur Radley) crimes and how he was going to go to the state industrial school, but Mr Radley said hed make sure Boo did no further harm. Since the ‘he was not seen again for 15 years’. The way Boo Radley hasnt been seen makes the Radley place seem like an imprisonment – ‘neighborhood legend’

– ‘The mystery of that house began many years before Jem and I were born’ – evocative (bringing strong images, memories, or feelings to mind )

– Jem thought ‘Mr radley kept Boo chained to the bed most of the time’ but Atticus said ‘no, it wasn’t that sort of thing, there were other ways of making people into ghosts’

– On pg 19 Jem describes Boo – ‘Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, thats why his hands were blood stained […] there was a long ragged scar across his face and what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped and he drooled most of the time.

– Jem described making Boo come out was like ‘striking a match under a turtle’

Scouts Education

– Scout cant wait till school – ‘I never looked forward more to anything’

– She had received individual teaching from Atticus before she started school but now she is being by Miss Caroline whose educational methods make no room for the individual

– Dewey Decmil System – introduced by Miss Caroline

– She knows most of what she is being taught as a result of Atticus and Calpurnia teaching her at home “Miss caroline caught me writing” … “we don’t write in first grade we print”

– Strict – mrs Caroline taps Scout on hand when she does something wrong

– Most of scouts class mates are not a smart or well of as scout – e.g. The Ewells and Cunnighams

– ‘Miss caroline Fisher smelt and looked like a peppermint drop’ (pg 22)

Incident With Walter Cunningham

– when walter refuses to borrow money from Miss Caroline to buy lunch. Miss Caroline wont accept his refusal. Scout tries to explain why but she is punished.

– Its clear walter id ptoud dignified person not taking anyones money

– It shows sence of poverty in book that walter has not enough money to pay Miss Caroline Back – ‘Walter had probably never seen three quarters together in his life’

– Sets background of Cunninghams

– Ignorense – in not knowing what to do, he knows no better than what he does (maple Syrop – ‘ he would have probably poured it in his milk glass if I had not asked what the sam hill he was doing’

– Dignity – ‘your shaming him miss’

– Shows that there is little understanding between town people and farming people

What Does Scout Learn When Walter Comes For Lunch

– Not to comment on other people’s table manners as she got scolded by Calpurnia for commenting on walters – ‘That boy’s yo’ company and if he wants to eat the table cloth you let him, you hear?’ (pg 30)

– That everybodys manners were different as some people are not taught manners as well as she was

– She learnt not to look down on someone as if she was ‘so high and mighty’

The Ewells:

– Not looked after – ‘He was the filthiest human I had ever seen’ …. Atticus comments on Ewells father – ‘He spends most his releif cheques on green whiskey’

– Cheeky / rude

– Report and be damned to ye’ – Burris’ language is slang and rough, he is full mouthed

– Ill-educated – ‘Been comin to the first day o’ the first grade for 3 years now’

– ‘They were people but the lived like animals’

– Bob ewell breaks law (pg 37)

‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it’ – Importance of these words:

– moral of the story?

– Solution to prejudice

– Acceptance, respect, humility, tolerance

– This is an example of Atticus trying to be a good father telling scout that you need to think about things and what other people are thinking before you do something – this will help Scout alot and keep her out of trouble

What have you noticed about the way ideas are presented in the last two chapters?

– The author uses similes – ‘her hand was as wide as a bed slat and twice as hard’ ‘ Jems white shirt tail dipped and bobbed like a small ghost dancing away to escape the morning’ – these are used to help create images in the eaders head and to emphasize the authors point

– The author introduces characters gradually instead of all at once at start of book

– Harper Lee allows themes and ideas to grow out of a controlled humour – if we concider Scout’s respose to school, reading and to the people she encounters we can see that they are presented in a comical way

– Harper Lee keeps the Radley place in focus even though she is developing new ideas at the same time.

Effect Of Harper Lees Presentation Of Formal Education:

– It is clear that Scout’s school days are no more ‘auspicious’ than the first: Harper Lees presentation of formal education makes it sound strict

– Scout has learnt better from her father than she has done ‘along the treadmill of the Maycomb county school system’

– Scout does not appreciate the education she receives at school and from her comments we gain an impression of a narrow and limiting system that does not encourage individuality or creative thinking – scout describes it as a ‘treadmill’ (pg 36)

The children pass sumer with their friend Dill – how does this held develop plot:

– Each story gives us new ideas or explain what a character is e.g:

– ‘Atticus is fair’. Even though Atticus suspects the children’s game being about the Radleys place he lets it go as if he has no proof (Lawyer)

– The childrens stories all revolve around Boo Radley and they attemt to act out scenes from Boo’s life – in this way Harper Lee keeps our attention on the mysterious Boo Radley

Miss Maudie – How do you feel she functions

– We learn alot about the Radley place from her e.g. Radleys are foot washing Baptists

– She is a source of company for scout – pg 48 ‘until Dill and Jem excluded me from their plans, she was only another lady in the neighborhood…. Jem and Dill drove me closer to her’

– Says what she thinks

– ‘There’s some people worrying about the next world, and cant live in this world properly’

– Scouts misunderstandings of Miss Maudie adds humor to the novel

How is scouts innocence illustrated in the incident Miss Maudie relates about Miss Steohanie and Boo Radley

– – Irony is used here making the situation humorous ‘…what did you do, Stephanie, moce over in bed and make room for him?’ that shut her up for a while (pg51) Scouts reply informs she doesn’t understand that Miss Stephanie Crawford has a notion for men: even Boo Radley. This proves Scouts Innocence.

How does Harper Lee build up tension when children try and look into Boo Radleys window?

– ‘Don’t make a sound’ he whispered – from the very beginning of their expedition there is tension, this dialogue suggests fear

– ‘Jem touched it. The gate squeaked’ short sentences create suspense

– After the fire of the shotgun everything became dramatic. ‘Dill and I rolled and swung his feet to the floor are dramatic phrases pg 62

What does scout learn about Boo Radley in chapther 7

– Kind – realizes Boo has been leaving the things in knot holes and sewed Jems trousers up

– Jem realizes Mr Radley blocked knot hole deliberately because he wanted to stop Boo communicating with Jem and Scout (at first Scout does not realize this which shows the different levels of maturity the children have).

– Scout starts to no longer see Boo as terrifying figure but is kind and thoughtful

– Boo can be seen as Mocking bird as trys to help children and does nothing wrong.

What is the significance of Scout and Jem Building a snowman?

– ‘I ain’t heard of a nigger snowman’ – the word ‘nigger’ immediately alerts us to the subject of racism which may be involved in the event

– Miss Maudie describes snow man as ‘absolute morphodite (p.75) this is because it resembles Mr Avory, it shows close community

– The black / white snow man shows Jem isn’t racist or prejudice towards black people

– We start to see a more mature Jem and his Skills and characteristics – ‘ I cant tell what youre going to be – an engineer, a lawyer or a portrait painter’

What do Scout and Jem learn from the fire in Miss Maudies house?

– Boo is a lonely, kind figure – puts rug over scouts shoulders.

– Learn their father is relaxed and patient – ‘Atticus was standing with his hands in his hands in his over coat. He might have been watching a football game.’

– Maycomb is close community – ‘looks like all of Maycomb was out tonight’

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