Interpreting Literature: Session V To Kill a Mockingbird 2015-04-23

Analysis Chapters 1-8

After our journaling prompt, and a quick review of the background reading from the Glencoe Guide, we dove right into character analyses of the main characters that we’ve met so far and talked about chapters 1-8. Please stay on track with the reading (we need to read about eight chapters per week) and check the syllabus for all homework.

Narrative and Point of View

To Kill a Mockingbird is told in the first person by Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. The novel begins from the point of view of Scout as she looks back on her childhood, revisiting memories through the filter of her adult experience. 

Although the narrator is an adult looking back at her childhood, the perspective is limited to what she saw and felt at that time. Scout the 6-year-old often does not understand the full meaning of what she observes, and her childlike perceptions are frequently a source of humor, as when she says of her father, “Atticus was feeble. He was nearly fifty.” Yet even in this instance, the narrator does not confine her vocabulary to that of a child. Here is another example of how the narrator recalls childhood events with an adult vocabulary: “I wasn’t sure what Jem resented most, but I took umbrage at Mrs. Dubose’s assessment of the family’s mental hygiene.” 

I asked the students if our memories change as they are filtered through the lens of our later experiences. The consensus was “yes.”

The Scottsboro Boys Trials

We then read through a rather unpleasant matter from history called The Scottsboro Trials. I will not repeat the story here, but it’s important to be aware of these famous trials of the 1930’s as they were the inspiration for the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird. You can read about the Scottsboro Trials and other related stories from the “Jim Crow Law” days at, The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.

Race and Relationships

Clearly, racism is a major theme of the novel. The essay prompt this week is meaty. I made a step-by-step outline for students to follow and created a worksheet for them to use during the research phase. Please read chapters 9-16 before attempting the essay! As always, let me know if you have questions. Hang in there, we’re almost to the end!