‘To Kill a Mock­ing Bird’ – Cont’d

Jamaica Gleaner - - YL - Time to put up your study timetable. Have a stress-free week. God bless! BERYL CLARKE Con­trib­u­tor Beryl Clarke is an in­de­pen­dent con­trib­u­tor. Send ques­tions and com­ments to kerry-ann.hep­burn@glean­erjm.com

GOOD DAY. How far have you got in read­ing To Kill a Mock­ing­bird, or have you fin­ished? I know that soon af­ter you started, you would have found out that the novel is set in Alabama, one of the South­ern states of the USA. If I say to you that hav­ing made that dis­cov­ery I am ex­pect­ing racial is­sues to sur­face, what rea­son can you think of for my po­si­tion? Yes ... it was once a slave state; a state where Ne­groes were abused phys­i­cally, men­tally, emo­tion­ally, so­cially, eco­nom­i­cally – all be­cause of race and colour. The writer, Harper Lee, was her­self a South­erner who died only last year on Fe­bru­ary 19. This novel, which won her many hon­ours, in­cludes sev­eral sim­i­lar­i­ties to her own life and makes it clear that liv­ing in the South did not make her racist.

Our story is told by a child and this is sig­nif­i­cant, for we will get her point of view. Let me point out, how­ever, that our nar­ra­tor, Jean Louise Finch, more pop­u­larly known as Scout, is a very smart lit­tle girl. She reads and reads well – even though when we meet her, she has not yet started school. What makes her role par­tic­u­larly in­ter­est­ing is her in­no­cent re­port­ing on peo­ple and events, as well as on her brother, and her friends and as­so­ciates.

In chap­ter one we meet Scout, her brother Jem (Jeremy At­ti­cus Finch) and their fa­ther At­ti­cus Finch, a lawyer. We are also in­tro­duced to their cook, Calpur­nia, and Dill, Charles Baker Har­ris, an­other child. Scout gives us a brief fam­ily his­tory and thereby we learn of her close­ness to her brother and her fa­ther, but what about her re­la­tion­ship with Calpur­nia? This is a ques­tion that you may ask. Be care­ful not to jump to con­clu­sions. Scout refers to her by her chris­tian name, but she also calls her fa­ther by his given name, At­ti­cus. Please no­tice that she makes no ref­er­ence to Calpur­nia’s colour or that she is a Ne­gro, for these things do not seem to have any rel­e­vance to Scout. It is wor­thy of note and it says much about At­ti­cus and the way he is bring­ing up his chil­dren, with Calpur­nia’s help, of course. In­deed, it is an un­usual sit­u­a­tion for she can, and does, dis­ci­pline the white chil­dren of her em­ployer.

Next, please pay spe­cial at­ten­tion to the way the chil­dren speak, their choice of words and Scout’s abil­ity to de­scribe what she sees and hears. Be­low are some ac­tions that I wish you to un­der­take. 1. Read up on the Bat­tle of Hast­ings. 2. See if you can find out why the Methodists left Eng­land for Amer­ica.

3. Delve into the con­flict (short­ened ver­sion) be­tween the North and the South in Amer­ica and dis­cover what is im­por­tant about the story be­ing set in a former slave state. 4. Read about An­drew Jack­son. 5. Con­sider the ef­fect that the use of the flash­back tech­nique in the first para­graph of chap­ter one has on you.

6. What ev­i­dence can you find of Scout’s ‘open­ness’, hon­esty and innocence in this chap­ter?

I sug­gest that you di­vide the work among mem­bers of your study group and then get to­gether to share oral re­ports and hold dis­cus­sions on the find­ings. Get­ting in­for­ma­tion will pose no prob­lem! Just use the In­ter­net.

Be­fore we con­tinue, please take a while to think about the ef­fects of the story be­ing told by a child. Do you think that this will make a dif­fer­ence and, if so, how? Y-e-s, we will get a child’s point of view, hear about things that in­ter­est a child, ideas will/may be sim­ply ex­pressed, and we will get an in­no­cent view of events and char­ac­ters. Al­right! Do not for­get to write down your ideas, analy­ses and dis­cov­er­ies about char­ac­ters as we pro­ceed.

By the way, you do have your note­book in which you record what is dis­cussed in your lit­er­a­ture classes with your teacher at school, don’t you? You should also clip out and keep these lessons to­gether. In ad­di­tion, I am ask­ing you to:

a) Write down the names of each char­ac­ter on a dif­fer­ent page of a note­book, for ex­am­ple, page one – Scout, page two – Jem, and so on.

b) Un­der each name, record rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion such as, in the case of Scout: name, age, role, char­ac­ter­is­tics and the pages of the book on which such in­for­ma­tion ex­ists, as well as the page(s) on which she says or does some­thing you es­pe­cially wish to re­mem­ber.

Have you no­ticed how much time is spent on the Radleys, es­pe­cially Boo, in our first chap­ter? We can see from this that it is not only Dill who finds them fas­ci­nat­ing. We can, there­fore, ex­pect to hear much more about them. I hope that you have been en­joy­ing the hu­mour in this chap­ter. Surely you found the meet­ing be­tween Scout, Jem and Dill en­ter­tain­ing, and as for their ef­forts to get Jem to en­ter the Radley yard!

TAMARA BAILEY PHOTO

Me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents ar­rang­ing items they made for dis­play.

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