FC: To Kill a Mockingbird Visual Literary Analysis Abby Huffman
1: Table of Contents Page 2-..3.................................Setting Page 4-9...............Historical Context Page 10-13.....................Point of View Page 14-17.............................Conflicts Page 18-21................Characterization Page 22-25..............................Themes Page 12................Personal Reflection
2: "Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square" (Lee 6). "As Maycomb County was farm country, nickels and dimes were hard to come by for doctors and dentists and lawyers" (Lee 27).
3: Definition of Setting: The type or surroundings, time, date, and place of which an event takes place. What is the setting? To Kill a Mockingbird is based on a small town in the 1930's; specifically and fictionally, Maycomb, Alabama. Racism is still prevalent in the period of time this book is set in, so society is much different. Maycomb was also written to be a very small, very close town where everyone knew everyone else and everything that happened in town was known almost immediately. As well, Maycomb was a rural town, with not much to do and not much to spend.
4: Setting: Why is understanding the context of the setting important to understand the characters their conflicts?
5: You must understand the setting to understand character's thoughts and actions because it greatly affects them. Since racism is still present in society, Maycomb had a general prejudice against colored people. There were still even separate churches and neighborhoods. Also, the gender roles were still taken upon in the 1930's. Because of the idea that girls should act as ladies and boys will be boys, this is the reason Aunt Alexandra criticizes Scout so much a bout her appearance and activities.
6: Historical Context Who are the Scottsboro Boys? In 1931, nine boys (referred to as the Scottsboro boys) were accused and convicted of rape. On March 25, 1931 the teenagers were aboard a train when a group of white teenagers hopped off the train and told a sheriff they had just been jumped by them. Upon searching the train for the colored teenagers, two women accused them of rape. All of this because they were colored. Every boy but one was convicted and sentenced to death for the alleged rape due to racism and poor legal representation. After Supreme Court caught wind of the case, before the boys were killed, the Supreme Court affirmed 8 of the boys' convictions and gave the other a new trial. The judge who ruled their first trial, however, denied fair trial and fair sentencing when their case returned back to lower court.
7: The boys were put on trial again three times, and even after one of the alleged rape victims confessed to lying about the rape story, each boy was still found guilty. Charges were dropped for four of the defendants, but the other 5 were not as fortunate. Sentences for those five varied from 75 years to death, but only two served any sentences. Those two escaped prison but got charged with new crimes and were sent back. Another was shot by a prison guard. The only defendant that was sentenced to death
8: Historical Context Who is Emmett Till? In 1955 exists a case about a fourteen year old boy named Emmett Till whom was cruelly murdered. Reportedly, he had flirted with a white woman, saying, "Bye baby," on a dare from his friend. The woman's husband learned of this, and he and his half-brother kidnapped Emmett and tortured and murdered him. The trial regarding his murder had only lasted for five days, and the men who had killed him were not convicted of the murder. Months later, however, the two admitted to the acts against Emmett Till.
10: Historical Context The biggest similarities between the Scottsboro boy's case and the Emmett Till case with the Tom Robinson case in To Kill a Mockingbird, is the racism behind each one. Because of the racism existing in the 30's and decades after, these colored boys all were wrongfully hurt or convicted. Emmett Till's death was simply a hate crime, and the false accusations of the Scottsboro boy's and Tom Robinson was because they hated colored people. Another similarity I've noticed between the three cases, is that each jury was an all-white jury (although, the third trial regarding the Scottsboro boy's had one black member on the jury). Because of the time period, of course, these juries were prejudiced against blacks. Whether the evidence presented who did what or not, no jury took a black man's word over a white person's word.
11: One final similarity I noticed within all three cases, was the false accusations against the boys. Four women and three men total, testified against all eleven men knowing that what they are accusing them of did not take place. Evidence and witnesses show that none of those men raped anyone nor did they flirt with white women. Only because they were black and the whites were uncomfortable with that, were the reasons these men were killed or convicted.
12: Point of View "My memory came alive to see Mrs. Radley occasionally open the front door, walk to the edge of the porch, and pour water on her cannas. But every day Jem and I would see Mr. Radley walking to and from town" (Lee 14).
13: Determined by the quote presented and other lines in the book, To Kill a Mockingbird is written in first person point of view. The narrator's name in the book is Jean Louise 'Scout' Finch. Scout is only in second grade, but is smart, confident and thoughtful. She is also different from other girls because she fights boys and runs with the boys instead of acting like a lady. In the beginning of the novel, she starts off innocent because she does not understand the racial prejudice the town has or why everyone called her father a 'nigger-lover'. As the novel progresses, however, she gradually sees more evil and is more able to recognize the racism as evil.
14: Point of View I think Harper Lee decided to write To Kill a Mockingbird from the perspective of a young girl (instead of Jem or Atticus) to vocalize that even children could understand the wrong in racism and treating others unequally. Writing from Scout's perspective clarified the point that racism is only a learned behavior, instead of a born one. As Scout was raised by a man whom believed in respecting others, no matter what 'defect', she learned that the colored men and women were no different than them. Overall, I believe Lee wrote from Scout's perspective because she was young and did not understand as much as Jem and Atticus did, but still did not believe in the act of discrimination.
15: Chapter 6, re-written from Dill's perspective As we crossed the low wall dividing the Finch's driveway from Miss Rachel's yard, my heart leaped and flopped in my chest like a fish out of water. I anticipated this moment since I'd known about the Radley house and now it's here. The gate squeaked as we tried to enter. "Spit on it," I whispered to Scout. She said I've got them in a box and we won't get out so easy, but we will. We have to see in and then we can go. We all spat until we couldn't spit anymore, and carefully set the gate aside. This is it. We're in the yard. I just have to see inside...Jem and Scout raised me to the window sill and I caught on. My heart is pounding, my head is thumping. I can't believe this is happening. What will I see? Are the rumors true? I had Jem and Scout lower me, for I couldn't see past the curtains in the window. They wanted to leave, but I can't. We tried to work our way up the back steps, but they creaked so I let Jem on ahead of me. He made it with no sound and crawled to the window, looked in. And then there it was. A shadow, whose arm raised and fell again and then left. My heart had finally stopped as Jem lept off the porch and again lurched when we all began running away. What just happened?
16: Conflicts: What were three conflicts in the story and the type of conflict?
17: To Kill a Mockingbird as a whole represents one large, summed up conflict between black and white people, and Lee used the Ewell's accusation against Tom Robinson as an example to that. When Bob Ewell accused Tom Robinson of raping his daughter, it created a character versus society conflict. Given the evidence, Robinson did not rape Mayella but because it was a black man's word against a white man's, he was still convicted and sentenced to death. Another conflict that arises from Tom and the Ewell's, is Atticus' conflict between him and society. Because Atticus was appointed to represent Tom and planned to do his best to defend him, the town sees him differently. He's talked about more commonly now, and not in a good way. When parents talked about it, their children heard so it trickled down to Scout as well. This creates a Scout versus society conflict because Scout starts to defend her father's name when she others other children talking about him in crude ways. She begins to see other people differently and gets in fights with other children and even her cousin. Scout also experiences a character versus self conflict because she struggles to understand society's prejudice against black people.
18: Conflicts: How did they affect the characters?
19: Tom Robinson's conflict with society greatly affected him as a person. Before the trial, he was already being separated and treated as less than because he was a black man. Because of Bob Ewell's accusations against him, a group of men tried to lynch him. Though that failed, he had to go through trial where he was convicted and sentenced to death (although he didn't commit the crime) and was put in prison to wait for his acquittal. In the end, Robinson tried to escape prison, was shot as he was climbing the fence and ultimately died. The conflict between Atticus and the community brought discomfort between them. People spoke against Atticus, called him rude names and attacked his children after the trial is finished. Some people found respect for him and others disliked him completely. In turn, Atticus being able to turn his cheek to those who thought dfferently than him enabled him to pass it along to Scout who would fight off anyone that said rude things about her dad. Eventually, Scout put down her fists and fought with her head, as her father told her.
20: Characterization | What types are there?
21: Dynamic character: A character that undergoes an important inner change in personality or attitude | Static character: A character that undergoes little to no inner change
22: Characterization What characters are dynamic?
23: Jem Finch is a dynamic character for a couple reasons. First, because in the beginning of the novel he acts as a little boy. He wrestles with his sister, plays outside and doesn't think a lot. But as the novel progresses, so does Jem. He begins to fall away from he and his sister's friendship because she is still immature and he was beginning to mature. He thinks more logically about things and follows the Robinson case. He even begins to think more for himself in that he believes Robinson instead of Mayella, like the rest of the town does. Scout Finch is a dynamic character as well and develops just as much throughout the story. In the beginning of the novel, she doesn't understand why people shamed Atticus for being Tom's defender. Scout's first instinct was to raise fists when others talked nasty about Atticus, but she never understood why. In the end of the novel, Scout understands what prejudice is and questions why people hate Hitler but discriminate black people, showing that she understands how wrong it is to prejudice and how hypocritical they are.
24: Every character in the book besides Jem and Scout are static characters. To narrow it down though, Atticus Finch and Tom Robinson are both static characters. At the beginning of the novel, Atticus tells Scout to 'fight with her head and not her fists'. Throughout the novel, he always insisted on respecting others who did not think as he or his kids did. He remained courageous and caring through to book, from sitting outside of Tom's cell to protect him from the lynch to accepting those who spoke against him and ignoring them when they got violent. Tom Robinson is also a static character because we never knew anything about him or got to hear what he thought. He his thoughts were never revealed, and he was only shown in the novel when the trial came around. Even then, we only found out he had a disabled arm but that doesn't make him a dynamic character. When he talked, he remained respectful and calm and that never changed.
25: Characterization: Who are static characters?
27: What is a symbol? A character, object or figure used to represent an idea or concept. | In To Kill A Mockingbird, a mockingbird basically symbolizes innocence. The title itself means to destroy innocence, which is a driving point in the novel. There are several connections to the title within the novel, such as when Atticus says it's a sin to kill a mockingbird and Miss Maudie says to Scout, "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy... They don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us" (Lee 119). When you take in that mockingbirds symbolize innocence, reading that quote and what Atticus says, brings back a central theme that destroying innocence is an evil thing to do. | What is the significance of the title?
28: Symbols | Why are Boo, Tom and Scout considered mockingbirds?
29: When Boo stitched Jem's pants for him and left gifts for Jem and Scout in the tree, you see he's actually a nice person. Especially after he saved them from Bob Ewell's attack, you notice he's not really the kind of person Maycomb citizens say he was. Boo Radley also chose to stay shut in his house for most of life not because his father makes him but because he couldn't face the evil of the town. This makes Boo Radley a mockingbird because he was innocent from the town's rumors against him and he chose to stay away from the mess of humanity that Maycomb represented in the novel. | Boo Radley
30: Why is Scout a mockingbird?
31: In the beginning of the novel, Scout Finch is clearly a mockingbird. She doesn't really know what racism is or why the town talked down on Atticus for doing his best to defend Tom Robinson. Morality did not come first to her, only quick solutions to her problems, such as fighting. As you would consider Scout a mockingbird, you would also consider her a wounded mockingbird in the end because as the novel progresses, Scout's innocence is slowly stripped from her. She slowly begins to see what racism is and questions it. When her teacher talks about Hitler for discriminating Jews, she wonders why it's bad for him to do so but okay for the town to discriminate black people. She sees the evil in humanity, thus making her a wounded mockingbird. | Scout Finch
32: Why is Tom a mockingbird?
33: Tom Robinson is the probably the best use of the mockingbird symbol. Tom's innocence is that he did not rape or harm Mayella Ewell. He is a mockingbird because he never did harm anyone, he only worked and lived honestly. As he is a mockingbird, he is also a shot mockingbird. The Ewell's accused Tom of being harmful, specifically towards Mayella. The town also believes that Tom was harmful because he was black, therefore both the town and the Ewell's 'shot' Robinson. | Tom Robinson
34: Themes | What are three themes and quotes to illustrate them?
35: Don't judge a book by it's cover. ""I just want the whole lot of you to know one thing right now. That boy's worked for me eight years an' I ain't had a seck o'trouble outa him. Not a speck"" (Lee 261). Just because Tom Robinson is black, doesn't mean he's trouble. What's popular isn't always right, and what's right isn't always popular. ""Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win"" (Lee 101). ""This time we're not fighting the Yankees, we're fighting our friends"" (Lee 101-102). Racism is so strong that an accusation alone is enough to convict Tom, but Atticus is defending him because that's not right. Not everything in the world is fair. ""Who in this world did one thing to help Tom Robinson, just who"" (Lee 288). Jem realized the reason Tom was convicted was because he was black, not because he actually did the crime. Nobody did anything about it, the town only accepted it and he thought that was unfair to Tom.
36: How can these themes be applied to the real world, or other works of literature?
37: 'Don't judge a book by it's cover' could be used every day in the real world. Today, people generally walk around judging others without a second thought, whether they know the person or not. But the truth is, we never really know a person, what they've been through or what they think 100% of the time. Whether or not we actually know everything, judging someone else is unfair regardless of that. Especially if you judge them by their 'cover'. The second theme I wrote down should be regarded all the time, and I think it's very self-explanatory. Popular opinion isn't always the best, and racism in the novel shows that popular opinion isn't always right. Atticus defending Tom shows that what's right isn't always popular. My third theme, that not everything in the world is fair, can also be used in the real world. For example, 1% of our country holds the country's wealth. Most of the rest of our country is struggling to keep our money. That shows that not everything is fair.