Online reading group and book discussion forum
  HOME ENTER FORUMS OUR BOOKS LINKS DONATE ADVERTISE CONTACT  
View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Fri Nov 27, 2020 12:35 am





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 20 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page 1, 2  Next
To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6 
Author Message
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

BookTalk.org Owner
Diamond Contributor 3

Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16321
Location: Florida
Thanks: 3585
Thanked: 1381 times in 1082 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

 To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
To Kill a Mockingbird


Please use this thread to discuss Chapters 1 through 6.



Wed Oct 21, 2020 6:28 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I Should Be Bronzed


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1661
Thanks: 1900
Thanked: 859 times in 690 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
Just getting started.

I am reading with several notions in the back of my mind. First, I want to discern the outlines of "Go Set a Watchman" in this classic tale of heroism. Who has remained unaffected by Atticus Finch standing for simple truth and equality before the law, despite the narrow racism of his town? Yet many years later Harper Lee set the record straight by spelling out the fact that he had feet of clay. I want to give some thought to the way Atticus was part of his setting, as Lee would later have it, even if a special part of it.

And that is right there in the beginning. I am on about the 4th page of the edition I got hold of, and Finch is the name of the fellow who founded a nearby town, Finch's Landing, and Atticus is the descendant who went away to law school and who was elected to the state legislature. He is ordinary, but he also has standing, somewhat more than the average of the culture around him. When he eventually rises to heroism, there will be echoes of the macho narcissism featured in our time, because he shames the townsfolk, and as we know, shame is toxic.

The other thing I am looking for is the rumor that Truman Capote re-wrote it for Lee, to make it the monster success it became. Did he write in the heroism? I think he wrote in Boo Radley, the character hiding in the shadows, symbolizing the shame that is so fundamental to polite, respectable society. Shame that Capote evidently knew a thing or two about.

Rumor has it that Capote was "Dill", the neighbor boy who shows up and disrupts their narrow world, bounded on one end by the Radley place and on the other by Mrs. Dubose, a lady undescribed except as "just plain hell". These boundaries keep them within shouting distance of Calpurnia, the cook, but also keep them from encountering the scary things at the borders.



Last edited by Harry Marks on Thu Oct 29, 2020 3:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
Robert Tulip
Thu Oct 29, 2020 11:35 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6755
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2083
Thanked: 2329 times in 1759 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
It's known, of course, that Lee helped Capote in Kansas with In Cold Blood research, but Capote helping Lee seems to lack evidence. It doesn't seem likely that Capote would have kept it quiet! I had thought that Lee's reworking the book with her editor at Lippincott was accepted as how the book evolved over a two-year period. I saw the recent "American Masters" on Lee, in which the rumor was mentioned. The program didn't give the rumor creedence.

I haven't managed to read Go Set a Watchman yet. Partly, this is from dismay that Lee apparently first conceived Atticus as more or less in-step with the bigotry of his time.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks
Thu Oct 29, 2020 2:49 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 6015
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2440
Thanked: 2382 times in 1796 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
To Kill a Mockingbird

I am going to read this book, as it is so famous, and I have never seen the movie or read it before. All I know about it is that Atticus Finch (played by the dashingly handsome Gregory Peck in the movie) is a lawyer who defends a black man who is wrongly accused, in a context of the extreme racism of the Southern USA.

Now I have just read the first chapter (found a free pdf online) and was intrigued by its depiction of how the rigid caste system in this rural county creates a strong sense of social capital, with the community appalled by people who do not conform to the expectations of regular local interaction. That is so completely different from my situation, where cars, television and the internet mean that I barely know my neighbours, and find them withdrawn and difficult to talk to, rather like the strange Radley House in To Kill a Mockingbird. If everyone had to walk everywhere, we would all know our neighbourhood so much better.

Some of the lines that struck me in the first chapter.

When the maid Calpurnia disparaged old Radley after his death, “we looked at her in surprise, for Calpurnia rarely commented on the ways of white people.”

“Being Southerners, it was a source of shame to some members of the family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle of Hastings. All we had was Simon Finch, a fur-trapping apothecary from Cornwall whose piety was exceeded only by his stinginess.”

“I said if he wanted to take a broad view of the thing, it really began with Andrew Jackson. If General Jackson hadn’t run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Finch would never have paddled up the Alabama, and where would we be if he hadn’t?”

“Simon, having forgotten his teacher’s dictum on the possession of human chattels, bought three slaves and with their aid established a homestead on the banks of the Alabama River some forty miles above Saint Stephens.”

“Atticus’s office in the courthouse contained little more than a hat rack, a spittoon, a checkerboard and an unsullied Code of Alabama.”

“Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.”

“When I was almost six and Jem was nearly ten, our summertime boundaries (within calling distance of Calpurnia) were Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose’s house two doors to the north of us, and the Radley Place three doors to the south. We were never tempted to break them.”
“Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him. People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows. When people’s azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them.”

“The Radleys, welcome anywhere in town, kept to themselves, a predilection unforgivable in Maycomb. They did not go to church, Maycomb’s principal recreation, but worshiped at home; Mrs. Radley seldom if ever crossed the street for a mid-morning coffee break with her neighbors, and certainly never joined a missionary circle.”

“The shutters and doors of the Radley house were closed on Sundays, another thing alien to Maycomb’s ways: closed doors meant illness and cold weather only. Of all days Sunday was the day for formal afternoon visiting: ladies wore corsets, men wore coats, children wore shoes. But to climb the Radley front steps and call, “He-y,” of a Sunday afternoon was something their neighbors never did.”


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Harry Marks
Thu Oct 29, 2020 8:17 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 6015
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2440
Thanked: 2382 times in 1796 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
Here is a great discussion on the "Battle of Hastings" reference.

https://history.stackexchange.com/quest ... lees-novel

Quote:
"Southerners got social status from being able to trace their genealogy back to the colonial period, and then to England, you were mostly socially OK if it ended there. Thus "back to the Battle of Hastings" is a wry exaggeration (or what the English might call "sarcasm")...

The Battle of Hastings [opening William the Conqueror's invasion from France in 1066] was arguably the most important event in (modern) English history. Most prominent English families had men engaged in it on one side or the other. Not being "represented" in what as arguably the "creation" of modern England was a source of concern to lineage conscious English families.

After he won, William the Conqueror compiled a list of major landholders in the so-called Domesday Book. Most of these landowners, by definition, had some family member fight at Hastings because of the feudal system. Not having anyone in the family represented there after so many generations of intermarriage signified a lack of feudal ancestors with status, at least to some.

A commenter reasonably observed that "not everyone considers 950 years ago to be 'modern.'" That's the way that most people on Stack Exchange would feel. But the question was why did the author depict a character from the middle of the 20th century Alabama as using the Battle of Hastings as a "frame of reference."

This character would have been a contemporary of Alabama's Governor George Wallace who (in) famously said, "segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." This meant, "Your social status of today is your status of tomorrow, and forever." A person who shared that mindset would care deeply about whether their family had or didn't have ancestors going back "forever," (e.g. to the Battle of Hastings).

Southerners were more likely to feel this way than Northerners because a larger percentage of (white) Southerners were of English descent. Also, a larger percentage of English Southerners were "gentlemen" settlers, as opposed to e.g. Puritans, and therefore even more class conscious than other Englishmen.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
DWill, Harry Marks
Fri Oct 30, 2020 7:06 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6755
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2083
Thanked: 2329 times in 1759 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
I read the first three chapters and find them to be a wonderfully skillful evocation of childhood. Perhaps Lee's success with that should be the basis of the book's lasting fame, ahead of even the book's moral message. Scout may be right up there with Huck Finn among first-person narrators in American fiction.

I could see some similarity in Scout's small-town experience and mine, at least in regard to scary people becoming legendary exaggerations, fun for kids to tell stories about and maybe use to prove their mettle, as Jem did. There were always a few people who were different or eccentric, and always they were rarely seen, adding to their mystique. In view of the later theme of the book, I wonder if it's significant that the Radleys had at least the privilege of being left alone in their difference, being white. Boo's wounding of his mother didn't result in his being taken from the family for any great length of time. Kids are always aware of difference, which Lee also shows us with the characters of Dill, the Cunningham boy and the Ewell boy. Again, there was acceptance of such people even if they were kept at arm's length.

A few things to note: the Finches are poor, yet they can afford a black cook and housekeeper. The kids call their widower father by his first name, which must have been untraditional. The father-child relationship is cooly described by Scout: "Jem and I found our father satisfactory: he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment."



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
brian douglas, Harry Marks
Sat Oct 31, 2020 12:15 pm
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I Should Be Bronzed


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1661
Thanks: 1900
Thanked: 859 times in 690 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
Robert Tulip wrote:
Here is a great discussion on the "Battle of Hastings" reference.

https://history.stackexchange.com/quest ... lees-novel

Quote:
"Southerners got social status from being able to trace their genealogy back to the colonial period, and then to England, you were mostly socially OK if it ended there. Thus "back to the Battle of Hastings" is a wry exaggeration (or what the English might call "sarcasm")...

Southerners were more likely to feel this way than Northerners because a larger percentage of (white) Southerners were of English descent. Also, a larger percentage of English Southerners were "gentlemen" settlers, as opposed to e.g. Puritans, and therefore even more class conscious than other Englishmen.

Nice. It is a nearly forgotten part of American culture, this ancestor worship. My great aunt made a big deal of the ancestor who was on the Mayflower (and who was apparently at one point a major landowner in Massachusetts). The Daughters of the American Revolution would endlessly commemorate the bravery of military men, and, as with the Ladies' Auxiliary of the American Legion, strove mightily in most of America to exclude Black people. Deep Southern roots but also allegiance to the past and to social hierarchy per se.

Just a side note. The Civil War has sometimes been characterized as a war refighting the English Civil War, with the Cavaliers represented by the landholders of the South and the Roundheads being represented by the staunch levelers of New England. It's easy to oversell such claims, but I think it is also an interesting insight into American culture(s).

Australia surely has its own versions of these tensions, with Irish roots, Catholicism and the feeling of superiority to aboriginal folk all playing major roles in the social dramas.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
Robert Tulip
Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:44 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I Should Be Bronzed


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1661
Thanks: 1900
Thanked: 859 times in 690 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
DWill wrote:
I read the first three chapters and find them to be a wonderfully skillful evocation of childhood. Perhaps Lee's success with that should be the basis of the book's lasting fame, ahead of even the book's moral message. Scout may be right up there with Huck Finn among first-person narrators in American fiction.
I had the same reaction. I was thinking, much of the time, "No wonder teachers assign this book." It is so relatable, with most of us having some memory of those feelings at the beginning of participation in larger social life, and also some distance from them. And Lee is so good at pulling them out and helping us feel in the middle of the process, for example feeling sympathy for the confusion and mortification of the poor teacher who did not understand the social rankings or the implications of poverty.

I am quite willing to let go of the notion of Truman Capote making the book work. Lee's voice is the same wry commentator that comes through in "Watchman", but ratcheted down in its worldliness to remember what it was like to have "You're getting more and more like a girl every day," be a clinching argument in the battle for control between brother and sister.

I am, on a little further reflection, struck by the genius of using the emerging child's perspective to gradually reveal the status hierarchies that the ending of the book revolves around. The kids have picked up a sense of how it works, and they know the shame of being on the lower end of one of these comparisons, but they can still see the world on its face without filtering their own feelings through the requirements of status. They glimpse the workings of the adult world, but they are also mystified by many aspects, and they treasure an adult who will play it straight with them and explain while giving them some tools for resisting being sucked into the nastier demonizations.

This business of hidden emotions is so pervasive in life, and the story so shot through with them, that it becomes obvious how Boo Radley can symbolize all that dark mystery.



The following user would like to thank Harry Marks for this post:
Robert Tulip
Sun Nov 01, 2020 11:58 am
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 6015
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2440
Thanked: 2382 times in 1796 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
Harry Marks wrote:
It is a nearly forgotten part of American culture, this ancestor worship. My great aunt made a big deal of the ancestor who was on the Mayflower (and who was apparently at one point a major landowner in Massachusetts). The Daughters of the American Revolution would endlessly commemorate the bravery of military men, and, as with the Ladies' Auxiliary of the American Legion, strove mightily in most of America to exclude Black people. Deep Southern roots but also allegiance to the past and to social hierarchy per se.
Chatting about classic novels is a great pleasure, helping us to think about history and identity. The term “ancestor worship” is something usually associated with non-Western cultures such as China, but it is a perfectly apt description of the attitude of racial veneration associated with the genteel superiority of the American south.

The point of the Battle of Hastings is that the Normans established themselves as a racial nobility, a military ruling class who built formidable castles across the whole English countryside to dominate and oppress the Anglo-Saxon and Celtic inhabitants, creating a model which the English imperialists were to apply around the world, including in the American South.

A few years ago I was able to visit Rochester Castle in Kent, and was amazed to see this straightforward Norman military technology of building a keep as a system of physical power. Therefore for a Southern aristocrat to have a lineage that goes back to the Norman Conquest illustrates their easy ability to apply social cruelty in a way that assumes divine right – as the British Royal mottos say, “God and My Gun”, and “If you don’t like it then tough luck”.

It makes me wonder about Lee’s mention of ‘both sides of the Battle of Hastings’, since having ancestors on the losing side might be seen as a mark of shame.
Harry Marks wrote:

Just a side note. The Civil War has sometimes been characterized as a war refighting the English Civil War, with the Cavaliers represented by the landholders of the South and the Roundheads being represented by the staunch levelers of New England. It's easy to oversell such claims, but I think it is also an interesting insight into American culture(s).
That makes good sense. Associating the antebellum attitude with the cavaliers creates the connection with knighthood, horse riding, armour wearing, and a general insouciant assumption of right to rule. There is a cultural evolution there going back to the Norman conquest.

And similarly, the English roundheads under Cromwell were Puritans, closely associated with the Mayflower, with strongly democratic attitudes of the equality of all believers and the importance of Biblical ethics. The emergence of anti-slavery among English Christian leaders such as Wilberforce and Wesley reflected this problem of conscience that owning slaves was incompatible with Christian morality. Just found this relevant thesis - The relationship between the Methodist church, slavery and politics, 1784-1844 https://rdw.rowan.edu/cgi/viewcontent.c ... ontext=etd
Harry Marks wrote:
Australia surely has its own versions of these tensions, with Irish roots, Catholicism and the feeling of superiority to aboriginal folk all playing major roles in the social dramas.
Indeed, and I have just had an essay accepted for publication titled Waltzing Matilda and the Myth of Peaceful Settlement, looking at the elisions of genocide in Australian history.

Both black and convict ancestry have shifted in perceptions, from colonial views that ‘a touch of the tar’ required total social exclusion to a much more egalitarian modern culture that celebrates outsider heritage, at least ostensibly. The sectarian tension between Protestant and Catholic dominated Australian culture until the 1960s, with Aboriginal people only recognised as human in a national referendum in 1967.

Australia and the USA are twin societies as settler imperialist cultures established by the English, who owed their great success to the fact they were the cruellest people on the planet.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
Harry Marks
Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:25 pm
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I Should Be Bronzed


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1661
Thanks: 1900
Thanked: 859 times in 690 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
How did Arthur "Boo" Radley get that way?

Talking to her adult friend Miss Maudie Atkinson, Scout is told "You are too young to understand it," and "There are just some kind of men who -- who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results."

Arthur Radley's father, and then his brother Nathan, kept him inside because of his rebellious behavior as part of the town's only youth gang. And so he became "Boo", never daring to go out and talk to people, never daring to interact and be social. The others in the gang were sent away and taught a trade and became productive members of society, but Arthur withered and became a recluse.

The Radleys were Hardshell "foot-washing" Baptists. I read a little about them on Wikipedia, and they don't sound so terribly repressive by doctrine. But they believed pleasure was a sin and women were sin by definition, according to Miss Maudie. They scolded her and threatened her with Hell for gardening. This Calvinist striving to be in the Elect made them resist socializing with others and the family was already isolated before Arthur's great crime.

When Boo leaves gum and trinkets for the children and they eventually leave a note back to him, Nathan cements the knothole in the tree.

I had not absorbed any of this the previous time I read the book, and certainly not from the movie. Now it seems to me that Lee was making a specific statement by having Boo Radley emerge from this Hell created by Heaven.

It reminds me of two statements. One, passed around a lot since 911, is "to get good men to do horrible things, it takes religion." (Feel free to correct the quote). The other is Atticus saying (and Miss Maudie unpacking, I gather from Wikipedia) "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." I believe that Harper Lee meant to combine those ideas with the backstory of a loveless, merciless zealotry that had twisted a man's own son into a ghost, bereft of any engagement with life or community.



Mon Nov 02, 2020 5:52 pm
Profile Email
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 6015
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2440
Thanked: 2382 times in 1796 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
Chapter Two

The first thing I noticed in this chapter was that the narrator Scout almost seems to have no name, or gender, not having been properly introduced in Chapter One except in rather tangential conversations that I barely noticed. I found Scout’s name by looking it up on the internet, after skimming the first chapter and not finding it.

Chapter Two has Scout starting school.
Quote:
Her teacher Miss Caroline printed her name on the blackboard and said, “This says I am Miss Caroline Fisher. I am from North Alabama, from Winston County.” The class murmured apprehensively, should she prove to harbor her share of the peculiarities indigenous to that region. (When Alabama seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861, Winston County seceded from Alabama, and every child in Maycomb County knew it.) North Alabama was full of Liquor Interests, Big Mules, steel companies, Republicans, professors, and other persons of no background.

This reads like satire. The idea that five year olds would have this detailed awareness of sectarian secessionist history seems absurd. And yet, it has a disturbing feel of authenticity. That such deliberate inculcation of prejudice could begin before school age, and be done so widely in the county, helps to set the scene for the theme of the cultural transmission of bigotry.

The whipping of Scout by this 21 year old interloper teacher who "looked and smelled like a peppermint drop" provides the theme of Chapter Two. First, Scout shows her difference from the flour-sack clad farmer’s children by being able to read and write, having been taught by her lawyer father Atticus and the family cook. The teacher scolds her for this, because it undermines her new teaching method, which seems amazingly stupid of her. The whipping by ruler is instigated when one of the poor children has no lunch and the teacher displays complete ignorance of the extent of poverty, and Scout explains this to her, leading to a class explosion. This humiliation of the new-fangled new teacher really tells us a lot about the social situation of Maycomb County Alabama.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


Last edited by Robert Tulip on Wed Nov 11, 2020 2:00 am, edited 2 times in total.



The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
DWill, Harry Marks
Wed Nov 11, 2020 1:37 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Gold Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Oct 2005
Posts: 6015
Location: Canberra
Thanks: 2440
Thanked: 2382 times in 1796 posts
Gender: Male
Country: Australia (au)

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
Chapter Three begins with Scout rubbing Walter Cunningham’s nose in the dirt, surprising thing for a girl to be able and eager to do to an older boy on the first day of school, in revenge for causing her whipping. Her brother Jem intervenes and invites poor Walter home for lunch, on account of his extreme impecunity, where he converses with Atticus in adult terms about farming and pours molasses on his meat, as much as he can eat.

Scout’s expression of astonishment at this appalling crudity produces a stern instruction from Calpurnia about manners, namely that Scout has no business criticising a guest. (I am reminded that the original Calpurnia was married to Julius Caesar). Social superiority is not to be flaunted. This life lesson is sealed by a stinging smack and Scout’s meal finishes in banishment in the kitchen, a humiliating punishment which produces manipulative wailing about suicide from the young spark, augmented by futile efforts to have her father sack the evil cook.

Next the innocent young teacher Miss Caroline is horrified by a child with lice, shrieking at this poor boy whose next meal is always a matter of mystery, as though she had seen a mouse. The boy, Burris Ewell, totally filthy, is inured to dispatching cooties with weary nonchalance. He is instructed to apply lye and kero, remedies which only inspire perplexity in this unwashable showcase for deplorability. The teacher’s incomprehension of this social misfit produces an explanation from the young class members of the acceptance of systematic truancy among poor families who are not capable of maintaining schooling. The teacher's resistance to how things is done in Maycomb escalates rapidly to a murder threat and abusive insults to the teacher’s face, completing a day that depresses Scout as fraught with drama, on top of the fatwa she was given against reading at home.

She is able to make up with Calpurnia and then tell her father about the day. In this beautiful relationship between father and daughter, Atticus instructs Scout to learn to see things from another person’s point of view, a piece of wise advice that many five year olds could benefit from immeasurably if they had such a switched on parent.

Sadly few of the deplorable delinquents of Maycomb County are likely to encounter such sagacity. The naïve child compares herself to the disgraceful Ewells, envious at their ability to evade compulsory school attendance. Atticus explains the bendy nature of informal governance, whereby the polite society of common folk can turn a blind eye to some antics of animalistic drunkard miscreants.

The ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ informality then extends to the agreement that Atticus will continue to read to his daughter on the condition she not inform her tyrannical instructress. The chapter ends with Jem completing a short career as a stylite.


_________________
http://rtulip.net


The following user would like to thank Robert Tulip for this post:
DWill, Harry Marks
Fri Nov 13, 2020 5:43 am
Profile Email WWW
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6755
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2083
Thanked: 2329 times in 1759 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
Robert Tulip wrote:
The chapter ends with Jem completing a short career as a stylite.

Not the first time you've sent me to the Google dictionary! Same root as stylus, maybe?



Sat Nov 14, 2020 9:34 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
BookTalk.org Hall of Fame

Platinum Contributor
Book Discussion Leader

Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 6755
Location: Luray, Virginia
Thanks: 2083
Thanked: 2329 times in 1759 posts
Gender: Male
Country: United States (us)

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
Robert Tulip wrote:
Chapter Two

The first thing I noticed in this chapter was that the narrator Scout almost seems to have no name, or gender, not having been properly introduced in Chapter One except in rather tangential conversations that I barely noticed. I found Scout’s name by looking it up on the internet, after skimming the first chapter and not finding it.

Chapter Two has Scout starting school.
Quote:
Her teacher Miss Caroline printed her name on the blackboard and said, “This says I am Miss Caroline Fisher. I am from North Alabama, from Winston County.” The class murmured apprehensively, should she prove to harbor her share of the peculiarities indigenous to that region. (When Alabama seceded from the Union on January 11, 1861, Winston County seceded from Alabama, and every child in Maycomb County knew it.) North Alabama was full of Liquor Interests, Big Mules, steel companies, Republicans, professors, and other persons of no background.

This reads like satire. The idea that five year olds would have this detailed awareness of sectarian secessionist history seems absurd. And yet, it has a disturbing feel of authenticity. That such deliberate inculcation of prejudice could begin before school age, and be done so widely in the county, helps to set the scene for the theme of the cultural transmission of bigotry.

It appears that Lee brings to the book the consciousness of the person Scout would become years later. Her narration thus has a certain worldly wisdom. This is unlike Huck Finn, who doesn't know anything beyond what his twelve years have taught him. I suppose the origin of this double consciousness is found in Go Set a Watchman, the earlier book (though not published until 5 years ago) in which Scout is in her 20s, returning to Maycomb Cnty from NY.

The distrust of the north Alabamans reminds us of the intense regionalism of the U.S. before local cultures were largely subsumed by a nationwide popular culture. People didn't travel far, had no reason or means to. The closeness of such communities can't be imagined today, when everyone has separate lives chosen from a full menu of mediated interests.
On the roads outside of my town are places that are no longer communities, designated by signs but no longer having post offices, stores, craftsmen, etc.--maybe only a church remaining as a relic of community. Differences real or imagined easily popped up between communities not in our current feeling isolated by much space.



The following user would like to thank DWill for this post:
Harry Marks
Sat Nov 14, 2020 10:02 am
Profile
User avatar
Years of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membershipYears of membership
I Should Be Bronzed


Joined: May 2011
Posts: 1661
Thanks: 1900
Thanked: 859 times in 690 posts
Gender: None specified

Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 1 - 6
Robert Tulip wrote:
The whipping of Scout by this 21 year old interloper teacher who "looked and smelled like a peppermint drop" provides the theme of Chapter Two.

Is this, perhaps, the origin of the amazing character Delores Umbridge, in the Harry Potter series? Or is the sadistic girlie-girl just a cultural archetype that emerges independently from time to time?



Mon Nov 16, 2020 9:09 pm
Profile Email
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 20 posts ] • Topic evaluate: Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.Evaluations: 0, 0.00 on the average.  Go to page 1, 2  Next



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:



Site Resources 
HELPFUL INFO:
Community Rules & Tips
Frequently Asked Questions
BBCode Explained
Author Interview Transcripts
Book Discussion Leaders

IDEAS FOR WHAT TO READ:
Bestsellers
Book Awards
Banned Books
• Book Reviews
• Online Books
• Team Picks
Newspaper Book Sections

WHERE TO BUY BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

BEHIND THE BOOKS:
• Coming Soon!

PROMOTE YOUR BOOK!
Advertise on BookTalk.org
Promote your FICTION book
Promote your NON-FICTION book





BookTalk.org is a thriving book discussion forum, online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a community. Our forums are open to anyone in the world. While discussing books is our passion we also have active forums for talking about poetry, short stories, writing and authors. Our general discussion forum section includes forums for discussing science, religion, philosophy, politics, history, current events, arts, entertainment and more. We hope you join us!


Navigation 
MAIN NAVIGATION

HOMEFORUMSOUR BOOKSAUTHOR INTERVIEWSADVERTISELINKSFAQDONATETERMS OF USEPRIVACY POLICYSITEMAP

OTHER PAGES WORTH EXPLORING
Banned Book ListOnline Reading GroupTop 10 Atheism Books

Copyright © BookTalk.org 2002-2019. All rights reserved.
Display Pagerank