The trial takes up the entire section of chapters 15-23, however I think that because it’s so prominent it doesn’t need to be discussed as much by me. It was overwhelming and I had to put the book down a lot, but it was still pretty interesting. Instead of all that, I’m going to discuss Mr. Raymond.
This tackles large problems of racism. He doesn’t hate people of colour, he’s married to one. His children are mixed. People don’t accept that, so he pretends to be a drunk. It’s more socially acceptable to be a drunk, depressed man who’s fiancee killed herself than be in a nice, loving relationship with a black woman. It’s completely ridiculous, but that’s the way it is. Mr. Raymond knows this, and decided it’s better to let them have that false sense of security than face the harsh reality that race doesn’t matter.
I don’t think this is necessarily the right thing to do, but I do understand why he did it. People still do similar things today. Act a more acceptable way to soften the blow for other people. It is probably a basic function of human behaviour.
Despite not being largely focused on in these chapters (10-15), the instance of Alexandra wanting to get rid of her is something I find quite intriguing. Considering her own driver and the old woman’s assistant are people of colour, having one help obviously isn’t an issue to her. I think that she likely finds herself threatened by Calpurnia; Scout shows interest in going to see Cal, but visiting Aunt Alexandra is a burden. Despite the fact that she probably wouldn’t enjoy taking on all Cal does, she would rather herself be more of a motherly figure to the children. She is already doing some things herself (such as making the refreshments for her Missionary Society) so it’s possible she could replace Cal, but there’s no need. She is jealous, and I am glad Atticus stood against this, because it is clear the children care deeply about Calpurnia and she cares for them, too.
Almost all of the events in these five chapters can, in some way, be linked back to Boo Radley. To start, they sneak into his backyard, Jem looses his pants, and Boo sews them up and folds them for him. They find the hole filled in, which is sort of an end to their communication. He came and put a blanket around Scout who was shivering while hoping for the fire to go out, and there was worry of the mad dog going onto the Radley property. Everything can be led back to that family and to him, and it makes for clever buildup to the point where we finally meet Boo. We know it will happen eventually, and that it is going to be all it should. We also know now that he isn’t evil, that he finds the kids entertaining, and that this is going to become more than a child’s game. My question about all this is how far will Mr. Radley let this go? He had to have seen them in the collard patch, three children do not look like one person. He found out about the hole and filled it. So what will he do next?
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (Page 23)
As soon as I read this, it stirred something in me I couldn’t quite explain at the time. I also knew that I’d seen something similar before. I spent a minute trying to recall it before I remembered a Venn diagram style poster for The Fault in Our Stars movie. It had two circles, books and food, and the overlapping area was labeled “things essential to life”. As anyone, especially Hazel (the main character of The Fault in Our Stars) could tell you, breathing is also very important to life.
The quotation adds more depth to a scene full of character development and more annoying teacher than Scout (or myself, for that matter) could ever hope to handle. I won’t go on about the teacher, but her disdain for a first grader who can read is puzzling. Scout, or Jean Louise, has been reading for as long as she can remember, and it’s become a part of her as much as breathing. You can’t try and take something like that away because it won’t end well. In this case, it resulted in her making a deal with her father so she could read anyway.
I haven’t read the whole story so it’s hard to say how much it relates, but reading seems to be a large part of the Finch family, and it means a lot to Scout. They are poor, it’s the great depression, but they are not near as poor as some. They take things for granted. I’ve read through numerous discussion forums and other blog posts on this particular quote in relation to the book and other things, and that is what most take out of it. We take our natural abilities for granted, and don’t realize they are special until someone tries to suppress them. One particular website, http://bit.ly/1yBScrM, gave very good descriptions of reading. This one in particular spoke to me: “It always strikes me as amazing that in a little pile of stitched up, typed-on papers, a person can get so lost, so far away.” Is that what the teacher wanted to prevent? Or was it more of an act of control? Reading more seems to be the only way to find out. Most of the information about school during this time is about funding and a lack thereof. Not that I’m complaining. I love to read.
In the first five chapters, pretty much everything is new. We meet the characters, get a feel for the situation, and the mood for the story is set. I can tell that the mood isn’t exactly happy, and even the events in the first five chapters bug me. For example, “…she discovered I was literate and looked at me with more than faint distaste.” The entire section around this confuses me greatly. Why would a child knowing how to read in first grade be a bad thing? I could read in first grade. To me it seems she should be grateful, there’s one less kid to try and teach. However, she seems to believe that some damage has been done. My question is: What are Miss Caroline’s infamous teaching methods, and will they result in the children learning absolutely nothing? (Nothing educational, anyway)
Question: What did the first sentence make you think/feel?
The first sentence of the book sort of confused me. I expected this to be a very serious book, but starting off with a broken arm seemed to set a different tone. Now that I have read more I understand that there is more to it and a broken arm was a clever segue, but at the time it didn’t seem to fit.