Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Literature Analysis #1 To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee


1. Briefly summarize the plot of the novel you read, and explain how the narrative fulfills the author's purpose (based on your well-informed interpretation of same).

-The plot of the novel goes in a series of events that leads up to one of the character's, Jem Finch, arms being broken and throughout the course of the story we are viewing the 1930's-1940's from the perspective of a tomboy girl, Scout Finch. Themes such as race, equality, and family are brought into account as you read into the novel. Being from a child's narrative, as a reader you learn how from Scout's perspective, how a child is brought up in this kind of society where there isn't such a thing as equal rights and/or true justice. Growing up in a world of unjust ideals comes across perfectly from a light-hearted, naive child. 

2. Succinctly describe the theme of the novel. Avoid cliches.

 -As I mentioned some possible themes beforehand in the prior question, the overall theme I get from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is growing up in an unjust society can not only influence you as adults, but also children who don't understand the complexity of racism and righteous treatments. For instance, when Atticus Finch is waiting at the jail cell of Tom Robinson and all of the townspeople come with guns to kill him, you see Scout come up with Jem and Dill to talk to their father and Scout recognizes one of the townspeople and talks about an old memory. This part of the novel is important because of the fact that Scout is somewhat ignorant to the society around her she doesn't realize that something bigger is happening and the townspeople realize what they are imposing on young Scout is that violence is the answer, which they know is wrong.

3. Describe the author's tone. Include a minimum of three excerpts that illustrate your point(s).

 -The author's tone throughout the course of the story is somewhat naive because of the fact that it is from a child's perspective. Not to say it is written child-like, but more along the sense of innocence throughout the novel while reading it and you almost pity Scout because she is so ignorant to what is actually happening. All Scout really feels bad about is that Atticus didn't win the case because she doesn't know any better.

4. Describe a minimum of ten literary elements/techniques you observed that strengthened your understanding of the author's purpose, the text's theme and/or your sense of the tone. For each, please include textual support to help illustrate the point for your readers. (Please include edition and page numbers for easy reference.)

 -Point of View: Since the story is told from Scout's perspective, you interpret things in a different way because of her age and the fact that as a child she can't fully understand the gravity of situations. This didn't make the story difficult to understand, but it made you sympathize with Atticus about trying to raise his family with the right morals by doing what is right even though the society around him did not have the same beliefs as him.

 -Pathos: Throughout the novel I feel as if Harper Lee is trying to make the reader feel some sense of compassion towards the main characters. A few examples, Scout has no mother to raises her so she does not understand the habits of a woman therefore she takes after Jem. Jem, however, feels as if he needs to constantly prove himself to Atticus that he is mature and responsible because Atticus is of such a high status. Atticus has to raise two children without a wife and still work as lawyer which is a very demanding job considering the amount of time he is working, all the while trying to make sure his children grow up in an unbiased household. Tom Robinson is a black man in the 1930's, no rights, no say, not even considered a person, and above all else a woman accuses him of rape and battery even though there is plenty of evidence proving he's innocent and is still found guilty.

 -Climax: As a reader, you would think that the climatic part of the story would be when Jem breaks his arm due to the fact that in the beginning they point out that that is the series of events they are about to describe. However, the rising action of the story leads to the climax and Scout's perspective doesn't make it feel like the court case is the climax even though that's the event that starts making things turn for the worse in her family like when Mr. Ewell tries to hurt Jem and Scout.

 -Setting: Normally the setting is like when and where, but for To Kill a Mockingbird, that is what makes the story amazing is because the setting has everything to do with why things are the way they are. If this same case had occurred today there would have been no question that Mr. Ewell was the one who beat Mayella Ewell. However, during the time period the novel takes place in there has to be a consideration of how social classes are structured and how ethnic groups managed their lifestyles together.

 -Stream of Consciousness: Because Scout is trying to recall all of the memories she has such as mental images and feelings as she experiences them, Harper Lee is using this technique to try and imitate how a child would respond to these situations.

 -Zeitgeist: We get the feeling of the era of the 1930's from all of the racism talked about throughout the course of the novel. Obviously this book takes place before blacks actually had rights, but it helps us interpret what life was like in this era due to the fact that in the court case they explain (indirectly) how society was not the same and people were cruel and unjust towards other.

 -Dialect: The dialect is important because racism is very strong in the south, especially before blacks had rights. Because of the fact the story takes place in the south, it emphasizes the severity of the case and if Tom Robinson were to be plead guilty or not. If he was to be proven guilty they reacted appropriately  as Harper Lee wrote, by killing Tom Robinson, however, if they said he wasn't guilty people in the South would be very upset about the fact that a black man won over a white man which would cause a huge controversy in their town.

1. Describe two examples of direct characterization and two examples of indirect characterization.  Why does the author use both approaches, and to what end (i.e., what is your lasting impression of the character as a result)?

 -An example of direct characterization in To Kill a Mockingbird would be when Scout is describing Atticus as a well-respected man, but indirectly as we see him taking action to actually fight against Mr. Ewell we learn that Atticus is a man of integrity and honor which has earned him that characteristic of a well-respected man. Another would be when Scout is talking about Boo Radley being a scary guy, but when he saves her brother Jem, as readers, we realize that Boo is actually someone who has realized there wrongs and wants to make things right in the world he sees outside his windows. I feel like the author used both because she had to, Scout (as a child) could not interpret how Atticus or Boo were brave but only say that they were because she doesn't understand how they were.

 2. Does the author's syntax and/or diction change when s/he focuses on character?  How?  Example(s)?

 -The author's syntax and diction only changes through dialogue because Scout doesn't have that extensive of a vocabulary like Atticus does. For example, when we are reading about the court case and Scout quotes Atticus throughout the story we hear his proper dialect versus Scout's childish talk.

3. Is the protagonist static or dynamic?  Flat or round?  Explain.

 -Personally, I believe that Scout is a static character because as a child you don't have sudden epiphanies on life due to major events that don't directly affect you. The court case of Tom Robinson didn't affect Scout in any way and she was indifferent on how she felt because it doesn't directly affect her and she doesn't understand until later on in life the underlying meaning of the case. She is also a round character because Scout is very life-like and can be related to because of the fact she is so innocent like that of a child.

4. After reading the book did you come away feeling like you'd met a person or read a character?  Analyze one textual example that illustrates your reaction. 

 -I feel a little bit of both because of the fact it was in a different time era, if this was the society I had grown up in it would have affected me in a different way because I read about a possible case scenario that ended up the way it would have in the 1930's which makes me almost feel like I'm reading an autobiographical story, but it's just not relate-able enough for me to truly feel like I met someone.

1 comment: