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Friday, April 13, 2012

to kill a mocking bird-different views of family life

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“TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD”


GCSE COURSEWORK N°


What different views of family life are we shown in “to kill a mocking bird”?


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The most important family of the story is of course the finch family. This family contains three mains characters Scout, Jem and Atticus.


We meet Atticus in the first chapter. He left his home, Finchs landing, down the river from Maycomb, to study law in Mobile, Alabama. Atticus returned to Maycomb to practice law and help his brother, Jack, through medical school. When we learn that he came back to help Jack, we understand that he is a man who shows solidarity with his family, who takes care of it. This part of his character is illustrated a few times in the novel. For example, he engages Calpurnia, the black maid and cook. She acts like a mother figure towards Scout, as in the scene where Scout unknowingly insults a poor neighbour boy, and Calpurnia teaches her how to behave.


He treats his children as intelligent young adults; he speaks in a clear matter-of-fact way, and answers questions directly (including technical points of law and definitions of rape). He is very fair (he tries to hear both sides of an argument) and he does not stereotype people (for example, he is quite happy for Scout to be a tomboy).


Atticus is a nice person who tries to have good relationships with everybody. Different moments that illustrate this are


• He shows an interest in Walter Cunninghams home life, and asks him about farming; he allows Walter, who may not be very good at school work, to speak as an expert.


• He always shows admiration for Mrs. Dubose, even though she abuses him and is a racist.


• At the end of the novel Atticus understands Boos shyness - he does not try to make him sit down in the light, and addresses him courteously as “Arthur”.


About him, Scout relates, He liked Maycomb, he was Maycomb County born and bred; he knew his people, and they knew him, and because of his fathers industry, Atticus was related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town.


This man is the man who has the most character in the book he defends black people, “niggers”, in 10!!! As Miss Maudie says, “he’s the same in the court-room as he is on the public streets” he doesn’t defend Tom Robinson only because he has been named by judge tailor to do it, he also does it because he wants to fight against prejudices and racism. Today, some people might not see this as remarkable, but Atticus lives in a racist and sexist society.


Atticus’s physical and mental courage is shown more than once in the book he shoots the rabid dog, he keeps guard outside the jail and he is ready to accept the label of “nigger-lover”


The Finch family is the freest family of the book. Their ideas are in advance for the time they live. I would say this family could live in today’s world without any problem.





Atticus and his family entirely contrast with the Ewells. Bob Ewell is the head of the least respected and most hated family of Maycomb.


Burris, Bob Ewell’s son, shows how bad his living conditions are. He has head lice and is very dirty. Scout describes him as He was the filthiest human I had ever seen. His neck was dark grey, the backs of his hands were rusty, and his fingernails were black deep into the quick. He does not care about the fact that he is dirty or that he has head lice. He cannot read, write or spell his name. He has no mother and Mayella Ewell brings him up.


Atticus also explains Scout that the Ewells are not regular people and this goes back three generations. “None of them (Ewells) had done an honest day work in his recollection. (….). They were people, but they lived like animals.”


The Ewells are very poor, and bob spends his relief money on drinks. His children have to cut up types in winter for their shoes and there is not enough food. They can’t even call a doctor as they cannot afford the five dollars.


Opposing to Atticus, Bob Ewell shows no sympathy for his children. He talks about how Mayella screamed like a stuck hog


The Ewells language is very crude, as it is shown when Tom Robinson asks where are the children and Mayella Ewell answers they’re all gone to get ice-creams. She says, Took me a slap year to save seb’em nickels, but I done it. They all gone to town.


Since the beginning of the story, Harper Lee portrays the Ewells badly, especially Bob he swears, he is rude and does not deserve any respect because he does not show it for anyone else.


This family represents all the bad and negative things par excellence.


Another family even poorer than the Ewells is the Cunningham family. We learn what social class he is from in the second chapter when Walter Cunningham is at school and he has no lunch. The teacher offers him some money but he refuses to take it as he knows that he will never be able to pay it back to her. This shows that he knows he is poor and would rather go without lunch than owe somebody something he can’t pay back. An extract of this scene is,


“ ‘Here Walter, come and get it’


Walter shook his head again”


An extra show of how poor they are is when Mr Cunningham comes to pay Atticus back with turnips. Scout asks “are we as poor as the Cunningham”


They are very honest and honourable. Atticus knows it when Scout asks him if Mr Cunningham would ever pay him back, he answers “before the year’s out, I’ll have been paid. You watch”


Walters dad is a good friend of Atticus, and it is because of him that Atticus is not harmed in the incident at the jail.


In my own opinion the Cunningham are proud of them and want to be respected, even if they are extremely poor.


They find it is better to be poor but honest and clean than richer and dishonest


We don’t see a lot of the Radleys in the book, which keeps a lot of suspicious on them. Arthur Radley does not appear to Scout directly until the final chapters of the novel. However his presence is felt throughout the narrative.


The Radley house, near to the finches, is occupied by Arthur, his mother, and his brother, Nathan.


Boo Radley is a recluse. He is the subject of various rumours that he is a ghost, or a murderer. All the kids in Maycomb are afraid of him. But he is just very shy and he does not wish to interact with the townspeople. When Jem, scout, or any other children approach his house, they think they are risking their life


In fact it is in no way the case Boo is in reality very kind. Many clues are given to the reader in the story, to make him understand that Boo isn’t a murderer


• The children receive a series of mysterious presents which are left in the knot-hole of an oak tree by the Radleys house two pieces of chewing gum, two Indian-head coins, two figures carved out of soap, a packet of gum, a spelling medal and a broken pocket watch


• When Jem snags his trousers on the fence wire, he leaves them. When he goes to retrieve them, he sees that they have been mended, inexpertly


• When Miss Maudies house is burned, someone places a blanket over Scouts shoulders. Atticus sees this but does not tell Scout when it happens. Comment on what you think is the explanation.


This shows us that the children are wrong about Arthur


Miss Maudie describes Mr. Radley, Boos father, as a foot-washing Baptist who believed that pleasure was sin.


The Radley have a strange way of life, even if they are not naughty. This family lives apart from the rest of Maycomb’s inhabitant’s


The Robinson family is one of the black families of the book. As every black family of the beginning of the 0th century, they are very poor. Tom, the father, is a loyal and hard worker, full of courage. While he is at work, his wife keeps his children


Tom is accused of rape by bob Ewell, but we know it isn’t true; Bob Ewell is a liar. This is why the reader has pity on him, and on the black community of Maycomb. Tom is the mockingbird.


Another black person is Calpurnia. She is kind but at the same time firm with Jem and Scout. She is conscious that she has a lot of chance to have Atticus as a boss and tries to help him to educate the children without prejudices. She is happy and proud to bring black people in her church and at her home


The reader has a lot of sympathy for the coloured men of this book because they are kind and work hard but are still poor and hated from the white.


This community suffers of racism


As you read the novel, you will have a greater understanding of how was life at the beginning of the 0th century, of how were organised the social classes. More or less every sort of family is represented in this book.


I think Harper Lee used all these families to reinforce the message against racism every family that is described badly is associated with prejudices and racism, every family that is described in a good way is associated with defending coloured people


This book made me understand better who much the world changed in a very short period. I couldn’t imagine this was so close.


RADLEYS


the Radley house, now occupied by Boo, his mother, and his brother, Nathan,


Miss Maudie describes Mr. Radley, Boos father, as a foot-washing Baptist who believed that pleasure was sin.


Boo Radley is a recluse who lives near to the Finches. He is the subject of various rumours that he is a ghost, or a murderer. All of the kids in Maycomb are afraid of him. He is just very shy and he does not wish to interact with the townspeople.


CUNNINGHAM


Walter is a classmate of Scout who is extremely poor. He is very nice. He is very thin because he has various diseases like hookworm. Scout invites him over for dinner one night because she feels sorry for him. Walters dad is a good friend of Atticus, and it is because of him that Atticus is not harmed in the incident at the jail.


Social Class


Three good quotes to show social class are from www.essaybank.co.uk





“Are we as poor as the Cunninghams?” Scout says this when Mr Cunningham comes to pay Atticus with turnips. It shows how people can judge wealth against other families, the Cunninghams are known to be very poor, so answers can be comparative to how poor they are and everyone knows what they mean.





Another show of this is when Walter Cunningham is at school and he has no lunch, the teacher offers him some money but he refuses to take it as he knows that he will never be able to pay it back to her. This shows that he knows he is poor and would rather go without lunch than owe somebody something he can’t pay back. An extract form this scene is, wwfc fcw esfcfcs ayfc fcba nfc kcfc fcuk;


“ ‘Here Walter, come and get it.’


Walter shook his head again. “


Finch


In chapter one, we meet Atticus, Scouts father, who left his home, Finchs Landing, down the river from Maycomb, to study law in Mobile, Alabama. Atticus returned to Maycomb to practice law and help his brother, Jack, through medical school. About Atticus, Scout relates, He liked Maycomb, he was Maycomb County born and bred; he knew his people, and they knew him, and because of [his fathers] industry, Atticus was related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town


Atticus is the towns most respected lawyer. He is not wealthy, but he is well off in the community and kind towards everyone. He has been assigned a case of defending a black man accused of rape. Now he is both revered and reviled by the townspeople. After all, they do live in the south in the early 10s. Atticus gives a lot of advice to his kids. He tells them that they cannot judge people until they climb into their skin and walk around in it.


Jem is Scouts older brother. He is 10 as the story begins, and 1 at its end. He is very wise for his age, and also very emotional. He takes after his father Atticus a lot. He is more easy-going and not as adventurous as Scout.


EWELLS


least respected and most hated family


The Ewells play a significant part in this story of To Kill a Mockingbird. In the first chapter, Scout mentions the Ewells to us that the Ewells started it all. Scout means that the Ewells had an affect on the residents of Maycomb. The story will involve an allegation of rape and the way black and white issues (the prejudice that runs through the whole of the story) are covered. Burris Ewell, the son of Bob Ewell, shows how bad his living conditions are. He has head lice and is very dirty. Scout describes him as He was the filthiest human I had ever seen. His neck was dark grey, the backs of his hands were rusty, and his fingernails were black deep into the quick. He does not care that he is dirty or he has head lice. He cannot read, write or spell his name. He has no mother and Mayella Ewell brings him up. From the very beginning of the story, the Ewells are portrayed badly. Scout learns from her father that she had to go to school but the Ewells do not. Atticus explains that the Ewells are not regular people and this goes back three generations None of them (Ewells) had done an honest dayÆs work in his recollection. He said that some Christmas, when he was getting ride of the trees, he would take me with him and show me where and how they lived. They were people, but they lived like animals. This quote shows us the prejudice that the Ewells experience from other people in Maycomb because of their low social position in the town. We learn about the Ewells mainly in the court case when Mayella Ewell has accused a black man, Tom Robinson of raping her. From the court case we learn that Bob Ewell is ignorant and quite crude in his use of language and his background Every town the size of Maycomb had families like the Ewells. No economic fluctuations changed their status - people like the Ewells lived as guests of the country in prosperity as well as in the depths of a depression. The Ewells lived in dirty conditions, have no money and are unemployed. They are considered to be White trash; they are uneducated, full of disease and do not seem to care. The Ewells lived behind the town garbage dump in what was once a Negro cabin. When the weather was very cold Ewells could not afford shoes and so cut dandy ones from strips of old tyres. Tom Robinson asks where are the children and Mayella Ewell says they all gone to town to get ice-creams. She says, Took me a slap year to save sebÆm nickels, but I done it. They all gone to town. Mr Gilmer starts to question Robert Ewell and his language is very crude. He talks about how Mayella Ewells screamed like a stuck hog. This shows us that he had no sympathy for his daughter. Mr Ewell takes GodÆs name in vain when he says that Mayella was screaminÆ fit to beat Jesus. Harper Lee shows Mr Ewell as a character that we do not have sympathy because he swears, he is rude and does not deserve any respect because he does not show it for anyone else. In his questioning by Atticus we learn that Mr Ewell does not call a doctor as he cannot afford the five dollars. We learn that MayellasÆs black eye was on the right hand side and Mr Ewell was left handed. This is AtticusÆ defence for Tom Robinson as he cannot use his left hand. Mayella Violet Ewell is called to the stand and she starts to cry to get sympathy from the court. We learn a lot about her lifestyle, background and that she tried to keep clean. She is the oldest of the seven children. We learn that her father spends his relief money on drinks and that she and the children have to cut up types in winter for their shoes. We also learn that there is not enough food. She is very lonely and that makes the court have sympathy for her. Mayella does not know how to reactant when Atticus keeps on calling her miss and maÆam! I wondered if anybody had ever called her æmaÆamÆ or æMiss MayellaÆ in her life; probably not, as she took offence at routine courtesy. When Atticus questions her she appears quite nervous and is not quite nervous and is not quite sure of her story. No I, donÆt recollect if he hit me. I mean yes I do, he hit me. This shows us that she is a liar and that the father has beat her and not Tom Robinson. The Ewells, Bob and Mayella, are both shown to be liars and this is why Bob Ewell wants revenge at the end of the story. Tom Robinson, who is a black man feels sorry for her which is something in a town of prejudice a black man should have never admitted. Scout sums up MayellaÆs position in society Mayella Ewell must have been the loneliest person in the world. She was even lonelier than Boo Radleyà white people would not have anything to do with her because she lived among pigs; Negroes would not have anything to do with her because she was white. Atticus makes it clear that in kissing a black man, Mayella has broken a rigid and time-honoured code of our society, in other words her loneliness made her turn to somebody that her society also felt was an outsider because of his colour. At the end of the story, Bob Ewell tries to kill Scout and Jem to get back at Atticus for the humiliation he showed at the trail. He also has lost his one chance of a respectable job and he constantly taunts and frightens Helen Robinson Mr Ewell said, DonÆt you look at me, Link Deas, like I was dirt. I ainÆt jumped your - First thing you can do, Ewell, is get your stinkinÆ carcass of my property. YouÆre leaninÆ on it anÆI canÆt afford fresh paint for it. Second thing you can do is stay away from my cook or IÆwill have you up for assault. The community does not show no respect for the Ewells as when Mr Link stops at the crazy gate he says Ewell? he called. I say Ewell!. This shows that there is no respect for them as they are not called by Mr or Mrs but just as Ewell. The Ewells behave the way they do because of the circumstances they find themselves in, the prejudice they suffer from the people of Maycomb and because of this the residents of the town did not expect anything more or less than the stereotype they had created for themselves. An example of this is when Atticus is questioning Heck Tate about what happened to Mayella after the rape had been reported. Atticus asks the sheriff if he had called a doctor and he replied No. This just shows us how he trusted Mayella despite not having any physical evidence. Due to the abolishment of slavery there is no longer a clear distinction between the lower class whites and blacks and it is because of this that the Ewells felt threatened by the blacks. The verdict was inevitable as the history of slavery meant that the jury was always going to find Tom guilty and Mayella the victim. Whichever way he acted he would have been found guilty in the eyes of white people. If he tried to defend himself against a white womanÆs advances the situation would be seen to be of his making and therefore his fault. If he ran as he did it would be taken as an admission of guilt. He was in an impossible position. I think the author took the easy way out in dealing with a difficult character, Mr Ewell. The Ewells are simply reacting to how people and life has treated them. Perhaps after Mr EwellÆs death there will be light and hope for the future. MayellaÆs flowers at the Ewell residence can now begin to flourish.


ROBINSON


CALPURNIA


We meet Calpurnia, the Finchs housekeeper who Scout describes as all angles and bones…her hand was wide as a bed slat and twice as hard (1). Scout, opinionated and vocal, faced Calpurnias discipline often. She tells us,” our battles were epic and one-sided. Calpurnia always won, mainly because Atticus always took her side


As you read the novel, you will have a greater understanding of the personal, social, and political issues which are dealt with in the story.





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