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To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12 
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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
Chapter 11 tells the story of Mrs Dubose, again illustrating the Christian compassion of Atticus, following the Biblical dictum of love your enemies.

This horrible old woman likes nothing better than to criticise Scout and Jem when they walk past her house, doing her very best to get under the skin in the meanest possible way.

Quote:
Mrs. Dubose held us: “Not only a Finch waiting on tables but one in the courthouse lawing for niggers!” Jem stiffened. Mrs. Dubose’s shot had gone home and she knew it: “Yes indeed, what has this world come to when a Finch goes against his raising? I’ll tell you!” She put her hand to her mouth. When she drew it away, it trailed a long silver thread of saliva. “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!” Jem was scarlet.

Not only was Scout abandoning her aristocratic heritage through her tomboy lifestyle, but Mrs Dubose considers Atticus a traitor to his race. This conversation raises the caste analysis that Isabel Wilkerson studies in our current non-fiction selection. Naturally such emotional divisions provoke fury. It also raises the problem of who Mrs Dubose means by “trash”.

The result is that Jem tears apart her garden in a fit of rage, using Scout’s brand new baton to chop off every camellia flower. I could not help feeling there was something symbolic here, although it was not until 1959 that the common camellia became the Alabama State Flower. A marching band baton is such a symbol of belonging to the proud white tribe of the south that for Jem to use it to desecrate the State Flower, especially after Scout has dropped it in the dirt, helps to build the picture of the divisions between the Finch family and their society.

These images remind me of American Pie:
Don Maclean wrote:
Now the half-time air was sweet perfume While the Sergeants played a marching tune We all got up to dance Oh, but we never got the chance 'Cause the players tried to take the field The marching band refused to yield Do you recall what was revealed The day the music died.


What stronger symbol is there of American caste attitudes than good ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye? Wikipedia defines good ol’ boys as
Quote:
“often derogatory meaning—a friendly, unambitious, relatively uneducated white man who embodies the stereotype of the folksy culture of the South. A good old boys network has the connotation of this sort of personality combined with cronyism. This southern term also refers to the personal and friendly relationship between common citizens and local authorities usually resulting in lenient or sometimes no punishments for crimes committed by friends of law enforcement.”

Tom Robinson is of course not a good ol’ boy.

Back to Mrs Dubose. Atticus, his voice like the winter wind, insists on the redemptive punishment of Jem reading Ivanhoe to the old lady every weekend for a month, an insistence which Scout considers an act of disloyalty on the part of Atticus.

The context of the need to keep in good with Mrs Dubose is partly explained by Atticus when he says “This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience —Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man… before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”” Despite being a pariah, it seems winning the case depends on Atticus being perceived as a loyal white, and Jem’s penance is about Atticus’ reputation.

Scout accompanies Jem and provides the following reflections on their penance:
Quote:
She was horrible. Her face was the color of a dirty pillowcase, and the corners of her mouth glistened with wet, which inched like a glacier down the deep grooves enclosing her chin. Old-age liver spots dotted her cheeks, and her pale eyes had black pinpoint pupils. Her hands were knobby, and the cuticles were grown up over her fingernails. Her bottom plate was not in, and her upper lip protruded; from time to time she would draw her nether lip to her upper plate and carry her chin with it. This made the wet move faster.


As can be expected, such a description is of a person near death. The chapter also includes the following important reflection.

Quote:
“Scout,” said Atticus, “nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything—like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain—ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It’s slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.” “You aren’t really a nigger-lover, then, are you?” “I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody… I’m hard put, sometimes— baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you. So don’t let Mrs. Dubose get you down. She has enough troubles of her own.”


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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
Robert Tulip wrote:
The mockingbird symbolises the innocent black man Tom Robinson whom Atticus is defending. Unlike pious people who harp on about alleged sins that are just matters of social convention, the statement from Atticus that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird is presenting the prophetic line of the moral centrality of recognising shared humanity and justice. He is saying that the entrenched racism of Alabama is morally evil, and that the lynch mob is the equivalent of the baying crowd who condemned the innocent man Jesus Christ to the cross.

While this is undoubtedly true, in another sense it is overwrought. A symbol participates in the matter symbolized, as the Constitution symbolizes democracy, and we need to think not so much of the innocence of the mockingbird, and of Tom Robinson, as of the sinfulness of lording it over weaker folk "because we can". There is a specific contrast with Atticus' reluctance to shoot a mad dog, which is innocent in a moral sense but a deadly danger nonetheless. But he doesn't kill it for gratuitous target practice, or any other kind of ego boost.

Undoubtedly Atticus can see the evil of the system of segregation and oppression, though in "Watchman" we see a very different side of his relationship to the system. And undoubtedly he wants Jem to have a sense of the evil in gratuitous victimization of anything, but he does not make the connection explicit and so we are meant to make the connection ourselves. In such a literary situation, we should avoid being reductionist and try to feel the connections being made to other aspects of the living situation. For me, the connection to instruction of a child is paramount: Lee wants us to understand that Atticus has a pervasive view of life and what makes it worthy, a view that includes how you use your first rifle as much as how you decide between conscience and social pressure.
Robert Tulip wrote:
Chapter 11 tells the story of Mrs Dubose, again illustrating the Christian compassion of Atticus, following the Biblical dictum of love your enemies. This horrible old woman likes nothing better than to criticise Scout and Jem when they walk past her house, doing her very best to get under the skin in the meanest possible way.
Quote:
Mrs. Dubose held us: “Not only a Finch waiting on tables but one in the courthouse lawing for niggers!” Jem stiffened. Mrs. Dubose’s shot had gone home and she knew it: “Yes indeed, what has this world come to when a Finch goes against his raising? I’ll tell you!” She put her hand to her mouth. When she drew it away, it trailed a long silver thread of saliva. “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!” Jem was scarlet.

Not only was Scout abandoning her aristocratic heritage through her tomboy lifestyle, but Mrs Dubose considers Atticus a traitor to his race. This conversation raises the caste analysis that Isabel Wilkerson studies in our current non-fiction selection. Naturally such emotional divisions provoke fury. It also raises the problem of who Mrs Dubose means by “trash”.
Mrs. Dubose is an interesting character. Her irascibility is clearly part nature and part circumstance. Atticus chooses to focus on the hardship driving her to be insulting the the children. I interpreted that as charitable allowances, and again an effort to help his children see the big picture despite their hurt feelings.

Insult is a prime instrument and crucible for dominance systems. We are only 200 years out of the codes of dueling, and some parts of the world still function that way. An insult must be avenged with blood. Thus dominance becomes the ability to give insult with impunity, and a person who will not defend the honor of himself and his family is a coward. Jem feels the insult, but Atticus responds to it with the ability to rise above those feelings and see poor Mrs. Dubose as a victim herself.

Robert Tulip wrote:
These images remind me of American Pie:
Don Maclean wrote:
Now the half-time air was sweet perfume While the Sergeants played a marching tune We all got up to dance Oh, but we never got the chance 'Cause the players tried to take the field The marching band refused to yield Do you recall what was revealed The day the music died.

What stronger symbol is there of American caste attitudes than good ol’ boys drinking whiskey and rye? Wikipedia defines good ol’ boys as
Quote:
“often derogatory meaning—a friendly, unambitious, relatively uneducated white man who embodies the stereotype of the folksy culture of the South. A good old boys network has the connotation of this sort of personality combined with cronyism. This southern term also refers to the personal and friendly relationship between common citizens and local authorities usually resulting in lenient or sometimes no punishments for crimes committed by friends of law enforcement.”

Tom Robinson is of course not a good ol’ boy.
Well, that's a marvelous riff on American caste, but the writer, Don MacLean, was apparently scanning the music scene of the 60s, and the good ol' boys referred to were, according to folklore, the band of Buddy Holly whose death the song is woven around. The Sergeants were, according to my sources anyway, the Beatles (Sergeant Pepper's band). I've forgotten the clues as to who the players were - Stones? Beach Boys? Dunno. But I am pretty sure Buddy Holly's Lubbock origins have more to do with the good ol' boys in the song than any evocation of caste.

Southern culture is contested territory, as "Mockingbird" itself shows. Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Sweet Home Alabama" is the emblem of that battle, being an answer to Neil Young's "Southern Man" and "Alabama," but one could also cite William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Toni Morrison, Tom Wolfe, Robert Penn Warren, Ray Charles, much of Blues music, and a host of other landmarks of creativity. The tension between allegiance to home and the truth of the racist evil heart of darkness in the South, transfigured by the Lost Cause mythology which pretended there was something noble about the Will to Power at the apex of the dominance system, made for some mighty inner struggle and mighty expressions of the fallen human condition. We should re-visit this set of issues as we go through the book.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Back to Mrs Dubose. Atticus, his voice like the winter wind, insists on the redemptive punishment of Jem reading Ivanhoe to the old lady every weekend for a month, an insistence which Scout considers an act of disloyalty on the part of Atticus.

The context of the need to keep in good with Mrs Dubose is partly explained by Atticus when he says “This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience —Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man… before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”” Despite being a pariah, it seems winning the case depends on Atticus being perceived as a loyal white, and Jem’s penance is about Atticus’ reputation.
You may be right about the reason for Jem's penance, though I never considered the possibility. But I think Lee means us to understand it as more of a symbol of Atticus' enlightened parenting. If Mrs Dubose really despised the family she would not be interested in having Jem come and suffer in her presence. She really is lonely and afraid of dying and struggling with the grasp of morphine.

Atticus does indeed know that he is fated to be part of his community. He no doubt understands his enlightened and therefore somewhat alienated position as a reason why he should be in the legislature and serve as attorney - a sort of noblesse oblige. Yet I don't think his partly mercenary motives extend to trying to suck up to a dying old harridan. Who would ever know? She probably doesn't have much social time with the other good ol' gals.

We have gone through 60 years of flux, when the dominant idea of the American dream was escape to reinvent oneself in Hollywood or Silicon Valley or Boston or New York. Who knows if the idea of being anchored in one's community will ever make a solid comeback - people now choose their friends and even their family, and the choice of sensibility and style seems to be the Great Work of many people's lives. Are you a follower of George Carlin and Willie Nelson, or of John Oliver and Hillary Clinton, or of Ariana Grande and Billie Eilish, or of Van Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates, or of Oprah Winfrey and Brene Brown? On the other side of this strange new cultural milieu, I think it would be good to look back with the ability to perceive the human drama in the challenge to critique one's community even while knowing you are part of it.

Quote:
“Scout,” said Atticus, “nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything—like snot-nose. It’s hard to explain—ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring Negroes over and above themselves. It’s slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.” “You aren’t really a nigger-lover, then, are you?” “I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody… I’m hard put, sometimes— baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you. So don’t let Mrs. Dubose get you down. She has enough troubles of her own.”

It just shows how poor that person is. Here is the triumph of the individualistic humanism of Locke and Emerson: we can think our way to new values, and rise above the "common" and ignorant systems that brought us the Third Reich and the nuclear menace. But if we pretend that we can think other people to new values, we are in danger of calling down Trumpist populism on our heads, of consigning our society to the status of deplorables and finding that our effort to lead and reform has merely created resentment and a determined, reckless assertion of tribalism and patriarchy for the sake of bruised egos.

In Birmingham they love the Governor.



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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
Harry Marks wrote:
Don MacLean was apparently scanning the music scene of the 60s, and the good ol' boys referred to were, according to folklore, the band of Buddy Holly whose death the song is woven around. The Sergeants were, according to my sources anyway, the Beatles (Sergeant Pepper's band). I've forgotten the clues as to who the players were - Stones? Beach Boys? Dunno. But I am pretty sure Buddy Holly's Lubbock origins have more to do with the good ol' boys in the song than any evocation of caste.
Metaphor operates at more than one level. Yes, those connections you mention are there at the surface, but there are also deeper levels pertaining to cultural and religious identity.

I think it is interesting to analyse American Pie in light of the racial themes raised in To Kill A Mockingbird. However, the more I think about it, the more I see American Pie as a sort of ‘Gone With The Wind’ type of racist elegy for a lost caste system, due to the anthemic Southern symbols in the chorus.

The metaphors you mention tell the nostalgic story of the loss of the 1950s innocence of the rock and roll movement with the death of Buddy Holly in 1959. Other stars in the song including Mick Jagger as Jack Flash and Bob Dylan as the Jester. Dylan rejected that label, but his line ‘there must be some kind o way outta here said the joker to the thief’ supports it.

Here is one conventional analysis of the song.

The lines ‘Helter Skelter in a summer swelter The birds flew off with a fallout shelter Eight miles high and falling fast It landed foul out on the grass’ express the lost innocence theme by connecting the Beatles song to the August 1969 Manson murders, putting the Byrds psychedelic Eight Miles High in the context of nuclear war, and then suggesting a double meaning of grass, combining the disapproving marijuana reference from the Byrds with the surface baseball meaning. The racial war content of the Helter Skelter line was news to me when I looked it up.

Looking at Don MacLean’s single cover with its 'thumbs up to the flag' affirmation of American patriotism, the lyrics of American Pie evoke the patriotic imagery of football (forward pass), baseball (landed foul), apple pie (American Pie) and Chevrolet (Chevy to the levee), rather like an advertising jingle that was popular when the song was written.

Suggesting that the meaning of the good ol’ boys is exhausted by the Buddy Holly plane crash ignores the primary meaning most listeners would hear in this idea, as a nostalgic reference to a simple past, a past much like the stratified society described in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Despite all that, this is a great example of a song which means different things to different people, rather like Born in the USA. Some people just hear the anthemic patriotism, even if consciously the writer meant the opposite.

Sweet Home Alabama, where the eyes are so blue. Boo Hoo Hoo.


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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
In 12, Atticus has to go the Montgomery for legislative work. I don't have the impression that he involves himself there in improving the lives of Negroes--it's 1930s Alabama ,after all-- but rather, as Jem says, he does the boring nitty-gritty that wouldn't otherwise get done, "that kind of thing that's pretty dry to most men." That view of Atticus is also reflected in the cartoon published in the Montgomery newspaper. His absence means that the kids would go to church without supervision, something that Calpurnia doesn't think will work out. It's out of the question that she would go to their church, but of course the laws allow whites to step foot in black churches, so Cal scrubs Scout raw in the bathtub, and off they go. When they all arrive, they're confronted by an angry woman, Eula, who tells Calpurnia to take the children away--they have their own churches, don't they? Jem tells Calpurnia to comply, thinking they are unwelcome. It turns out, though, that only Eula is angry; they stay and have a pleasant time in this different religious setting. Scout picks up right away on Calpurnia's "nigger talk" while in church, and both she and Jem question why she talks that way if she knows it's wrong. In the Finch household, Calpurnia would indeed view the dialect as wrong, so the children are right to be confused. Scout realizes for the first time that the family servant has a different life away from the family. She wants to know more about how Calpurnia lives and eagerly asks to visit her house. Unfortunately, in a later chapter her controlling aunt doesn't allow the visit, so Scout's empathy for this untouchable class isn't allowed to blossom to its fullest.

I'm still struck by Eula, and unsure about the narrator's attitude toward her. She's given such a brief space to vent a point of view that had to be commonly felt but isn't in evidence elsewhere in the novel. Her anger appears just to me. While the minister and others are deferential to the Finch kids because of Atticus's defense of Tom Robinson, Eula is having none of it. The world is still what it has been for her. She feels the sting of white supremacy seeing the Finches in her church.



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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
DWill wrote:
When they all arrive, they're confronted by an angry woman, Eula, who tells Calpurnia to take the children away--they have their own churches, don't they? Jem tells Calpurnia to comply, thinking they are unwelcome. It turns out, though, that only Eula is angry; they stay and have a pleasant time in this different religious setting.

I'm still struck by Eula, and unsure about the narrator's attitude toward her. She's given such a brief space to vent a point of view that had to be commonly felt but isn't in evidence elsewhere in the novel. Her anger appears just to me.

While the minister and others are deferential to the Finch kids because of Atticus's defense of Tom Robinson, Eula is having none of it. The world is still what it has been for her. She feels the sting of white supremacy seeing the Finches in her church.

This was a brilliant narrative set piece. The children see both sides of the attitude conflict in the Black community, and have a chance to encounter Calpurnia's cultural setting in much greater depth. My sense is that the author would agree with you about the justice of Eula's attitude. And yet hold out some hope for actual social encounter.

This same conflicted attitude is seen in Ta-Nehisi Coates' "We Were Eight Years in Power", with an essay about the requirement that Obama be a "good Negro" and never show anger. As the son of a Black Panther, Coates wishes for more ability to be honest and angry, but understands the pressures involved (while detesting them as part of the racist milieu). He reviews the long-running tension in the Black community between the militants and the accommodationists, focusing in particular on Bill Cosby's advocacy of "pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps," and the views of Booker T. Washington that predate them.

DWill wrote:
Scout picks up right away on Calpurnia's "nigger talk" while in church, and both she and Jem question why she talks that way if she knows it's wrong. In the Finch household, Calpurnia would indeed view the dialect as wrong, so the children are right to be confused. Scout realizes for the first time that the family servant has a different life away from the family. She wants to know more about how Calpurnia lives and eagerly asks to visit her house. Unfortunately, in a later chapter her controlling aunt doesn't allow the visit, so Scout's empathy for this untouchable class isn't allowed to blossom to its fullest.
This somewhat confirmed my opinion that Calpurnia had steered the children away from "low" talk based on superstition by calling it "nigger talk" because she wanted to underline for them the requirements of propriety. It was interesting for them, and for us, to see her adopt the way of speaking of her community rather than "put on airs." This is a feature ubiquitous in non-English mother tongue countries, including India, the Philippines and Kenya, where the elites must be fluent in English but they also have to be able to blend in with their home culture. Would they speak condescendingly about their home culture? Most definitely (I have heard it) but not in a group consisting mostly of compatriots.



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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
Robert Tulip wrote:
Metaphor operates at more than one level. Yes, those connections you mention are there at the surface, but there are also deeper levels pertaining to cultural and religious identity.

I think it is interesting to analyse American Pie in light of the racial themes raised in To Kill A Mockingbird. However, the more I think about it, the more I see American Pie as a sort of ‘Gone With The Wind’ type of racist elegy for a lost caste system, due to the anthemic Southern symbols in the chorus.
As a devotee of sorts of Don McLean [spelling corrected] ("Vincent" is one of my favorite songs) I beg to differ. McLean deals heavily in irony (some of his songs are wicked backhanded indictments of imperialism and its patriarchal thrust, for example, with references to homophobia that are scathing if you hear what he is saying), (as Vincent is, come to think of it) but also deals heavily in sentiment. (The nearly maudlin "Killing Me Softly" is based on the experience of going to a McLean concert unprepared for the emotional directness.) American Pie is unashamedly nostalgic, but his references to growing up American, including dancing with your shoes kicked off, and the three men I admire most, are honest appreciation for small town American life even though he knows the evolution to something more complex was for the best.

But yes, metaphor is multi-layered. The song moves us through mourning that is driven partly by rejection of the shallowness of popular culture. No one else has captured that mood except, I would say, Michael Stipe and REM, who riff on it wonderfully. And Stipe is from Georgia. But you can get some of the same mixture of sadness with head-shaking bafflement from Springsteen, including "Born in the USA" which you mentioned. Ultimately I think the Good Ol' Boys connection is part of the reflection on that shallowness, and the head-up-your-ass stupidity of racism is not completely glossed over, but it isn't what McLean is interested in. Except for the possible connection to Jimi Hendrix in "the flames climbed high into the light" and maybe the Helter Skelter reference, he is pretty focused on White popular culture and ignores America's racial oppression and division.

Robert Tulip wrote:
The metaphors you mention tell the nostalgic story of the loss of the 1950s innocence of the rock and roll movement with the death of Buddy Holly in 1959.
And here you begin to wander into the rich discussion that my friends and I have thrown away many hours on, hashing over the references and metaphors and what in the heck he was doing with that song. You have more depth of knowledge and understanding of music than I have, and in general I would tend to defer to your perceptions, but not in this case.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Looking at Don MacLean’s single cover with its 'thumbs up to the flag' affirmation of American patriotism, the lyrics of American Pie evoke the patriotic imagery of football (forward pass), baseball (landed foul), apple pie (American Pie) and Chevrolet (Chevy to the levee), rather like an advertising jingle that was popular when the song was written.
But again, the flag symbolism is thoroughly ironic. No one can listen to the whole album without getting that McLean can't stomach the traditional shallow flag-waving patriotism of the ROTC and the defenders of the Vietnam War.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Suggesting that the meaning of the good ol’ boys is exhausted by the Buddy Holly plane crash ignores the primary meaning most listeners would hear in this idea, as a nostalgic reference to a simple past, a past much like the stratified society described in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Yes, this is the idea, and suggests the way the avoidance of obvious controversy is recognized as a sin of omission by McLean, so that the flames and the last train for the coast and the children's screams become a shadow of the American talent for avoiding hard truths. He genuinely appreciated Buddy Holly's delight in making "those people dance" and found some of the same groove in American Pie, but also sees that behind the scenes things were more serious.



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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
Notes for chapter 7


In a little twist to the tale, it seems someone in the Radley household has realized the children are interested in them. On their way to school, someone drops gifts for them - chewing gums, toys etc, which they gladly pick from a hole in a tree. But the day the kids, Scout and Jem, decide to write a "thank you" note to the individual, the gifts stop and the hole on the tree is filled with cement. The kids discover it is Nathan Radley who filled the hole with cement. It makes Jem to cry.

I think the author is trying to make us see something about the character of Nathan Radley. Maybe he loves children but doesn't want anyone showing kindness towards him. The next chapters might reveal this conjecture.


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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
Emekadavid wrote:
In a little twist to the tale, it seems someone in the Radley household has realized the children are interested in them. On their way to school, someone drops gifts for them - chewing gums, toys etc, which they gladly pick from a hole in a tree. But the day the kids, Scout and Jem, decide to write a "thank you" note to the individual, the gifts stop and the hole on the tree is filled with cement. The kids discover it is Nathan Radley who filled the hole with cement. It makes Jem to cry.

I think the author is trying to make us see something about the character of Nathan Radley. Maybe he loves children but doesn't want anyone showing kindness towards him. The next chapters might reveal this conjecture.
Although I may be writing with the benefit of hindsight, I think there is no chance that the gum and other gifts were from Mr. Nathan. Boo (Arthur) is the implied leaver of gifts. He is lonely as hell, held in his house as a prison because he was too wild as a teenager. He has watched the children, because they live nearby. Whether or not he understands their fear, he desperately wants to reach out to them. Mr. Nathan's cementing the knothole is an act of evil, of a heart twisted by religion. It seems to me that Harper Lee has as much contempt for Nathan Radley as she has for the Ewells.



Thu Apr 01, 2021 9:37 pm
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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
Notes on chapter 8


Harper Lee gives us a look into the nature of Boo Radley. For the first time, the children, Scout and Jem, have contact with Boo Radley but they did not see or notice him. When there is a fire on Ms. Maudie's house and because it was cold, he walks silently to them and puts a blanket over Scout's shoulders unnoticed. Atticus remarks favorably on this to Ms. Maudie who is pleasantly surprised.

Ms. Maudie is not bothered that her house went up in flames. She will build another. She had been hoping to build a smaller one for her azaleas plants to have more space in the compound. Scout and Jem are surprised at her reaction to the fire.

There is snow for the first time in Maycomb county. The last snow was years ago, in 1885.

One takeaway from this chapter is that we have a good look into the character of the reclusive Boo Radley. Maybe the author wants to introduce him to the children slowly in this town that do not look favorably on the Radleys. That says a thing or two about how the author views discrimination and scandalous untruths.


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Fri Apr 02, 2021 10:40 am
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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
Notes on chapter 9


Harper Lee is beginning to set the tone for the conflict in the novel. Scout cannot keep her cool when she hears her father being called a "niger lover," because he wants to defend a negro against the Ewells. Atticus tells her that it is his duty to defend anyone who needs defending. He could not be able to talk to his children if he doesn't do what is right, no matter what others think.

Uncle Jack learns a lesson about how to treat children. I think it is a very nice lesson.

Atticus comes off as a fair, impartial person in a bigoted community. Harper Lee wants us to realize how pervasive is the segregation in this community and how the negroes are regarded by the people of Maycomb County. For Atticus to decide to defend a negro takes a lot of courage. This shows us why Scout is always proud of her father. There is one word that he said to her: "She should learn to fight with her brains and not with her fist." Good advice for a child who is learning the ways of the world.


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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
Notes on Chapter 10


Scout continues to discover something new about her father, Atticus. First, when Jem is given an air rifle, he tells Jem that he could shoot any living bird he finds but never to kill a mockingbird. Ms. Maudie tells her that mockingbirds are the most adorable of birds. They sing and entertain, and are so innocent. Later, when she begins to think her father is no good, all he does is go to work and read. He shows them another of his past. He can shoot very well. With one shot, he brings down a mad dog on the street. Jem is fascinated and is told that his father is the best marksman in Maycomb county. The kids now have a new respect for their father.

I think Harper Lee wants to use this chapter to help us see that Atticus is talented and his children inherited his talent. Talent flows in the Finch blood.


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Mon Apr 12, 2021 9:48 am
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Post Re: To Kill a Mockingbird: Chapters 7 - 12
Notes for chapter 11

I am enjoying it so far. Harper Lee has successfully painted not only the views of the folks of Maycomb county about persons who fall out of line but also how they regard negroes. It is a racist county, this Maycomb county. Mrs. Dubose, whom Atticus admires personifies what he describes as courage: Not fighting with the gun or weapons, but the ability to hold oneself accountable for one's actions and be beholden to no one. That was Mrs. Dubose and Scout would never understand why Atticus holds her in high regard.
Although Mrs. Dubose who later dies in the chapter tells the children that they would come to no good since their father is a nigger lover, Atticus tells them that he would not be able to live with his conscience if he does not take up the case to defend the black man.


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Mon Apr 12, 2021 4:46 pm
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