mia (acidstarz) wrote in exam_panic_zomg,

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English Literature

To Kill a Mockingbird
Themes & Issues

Right, I'll updates this throughout the weekend and put each theme in a different cut because there's gonna be a hell of a lot of it.

(I'll update the education theme too, because it's pathetically done)

I know ! Rainbow coloured themes !

1. Education

*Scout & Jem are educated by Atticus, Scout learns to read from Atticus.

*Calpurnia was also taught by Atticus & then taughther own children, the majority of the other blacks (Is that wrong to say ? :/) in the novel remain illiterate.

*When Miss Caroline reads the story of the cat family to her class they cannot imagine it, they have no imagination.

* Scout is held back from further development because she is ahead of the rest of the class. Miss Caroline tells her she is no longer allowed to read, write or be taught by Atticus and must move with the pace of the other children instead. Her education is stifled by the education system itself.

*The school/system is strict and prejudiced.

*The education the children recieve is completely irrelevant to their future (on a tangent, this is also addressed quite a lot in "Blood Brothers" for those who are studying it).

*We see that the Children do not fully understand what they are being taught. Jem is telling Scout about theDewy Decimal System but really he has no idea what it really is. (I need to check if it's the Dewy Decimal System, this is all frommemory)

*The Schools in Maycomb are segregated, this is highlighting (once again) the inherent racism.

*Through the education theme Lee is suggesting that you learn more from your family,home life & your out of school experiences than you will ever learn in school.

*The children are also taught by Miss Maudie, Calpurnia & Aunt Alexandra. Though not all lessons are adcademic, they are a lot more useful that the things the children learn in school ( Calpurnia makes Scout write passages from the bible - teaching her to write // Miss Maudie teaches the children about town life, stereotypes & prejudice // Aunt Alexandra teaches them about their family history)

*School is " a drag" for the children, they do not find it challenging, engaging or enjoyable.

*The Ewell children only attend school on the first day of every academic year. They only come in that dayso that the truant officer does not try and get them.

* Uncle Jack wants to teach the children manners (p85.) He scolds Scout for being rude.

* Atticus tries to teach the children morals, he wants Jem to learn respect for animals - won't let him shoot the birds.

* We seein Court that Mayella Ewell has not been taught common manners. She thinks Atticus is mocking her when he is really being polite.

*Mrs Dubose teaches Jem about Courage.

Quotes on Education:

* "Most of the 1st grade had failed last year" - p23

* "Good times are coming : no school & Dill"

* "I'm trying to teach you the facts of life" - p139

* "Besides, she said we don't write in the first grade"- p24

* "If he didn't who did ? You weren't born reading the mobile register" (Miss Caroline to Scout, after Scout denying that it was Atticus who taught her to read)

* "Ain't no snot-nosed slut of a school teacher ever born c'n make me do nuthin !" (Burris Ewell)

* "Zeebo cleared his throat &read"

* "Your father does not know how to teach" (Miss Caroline Fisher to Scout) - p23

2. Courage

- Atticus takes on the trial despite the fact that it puts him and his family's lives at risk.

- Atticus remains calm when confronted by the mob outside Tom Robinsons cell.

- Scout stands up to the mob at the jail. She talks to them also she can sense the tension. Scout & Jem run over to protect their father & stand by him.

- Tom admits during the trial that he "feels sorry" for Mayella

- Dolphus Raymond doesn't comform, doesn't give adamnabout what the towns people think. He allows the towns people to think he is an alcoholic becuase that is more forgivable than marrying a black woman, They are happier to think that.

- Mrs Dubose shows great courage fighting illness and addiction. The character of Mrs Dubose was created to explore the theme of courage, she is the most important "courage" character.

- Miss Maudie is unfazed by her housefire. She just gets on with things.

- Miss Maudie refuses to conform to the feminine ideal. She wears men's overalls in the garden, she has a sharp tongue.

- Atticus shoots the rabid dog to protect all the others around him.

- Jem goes back to the Radley house to get his trousers, even though he is terrified

- Scout stands up to Miss Caroline

- Mayella shows courage in court (Telling her "story" in front of the town, risking everything for her father)

- Jem runs up and touches the Radley house.

- Atticus guards Tom at the jail, even thoguh he knows that the mob will be coming.

- Cal defends the children when they go to her church, she is on the children's side even though she is among her "own people"

- Tom tries to escape fromprison (risks lynching)

- Miss Caroline teaches in a town where she does not know anyone.

- Scout beats up Walter Cunningham in defence.

- Dill runs away from home.

- Scout refuses to conform to the feminine ideal. Wears shorts under her dress.

- Atticus accepts what the town has to say about him and does not retaliate.

Quotes on courage

"Hold your head up high and be a gentleman" (Jem --> Scout)

"["my sister ain't dirty and Iain't scared of you" althought I noticed his knees shaking]" (Jem --> Somone, mrs dubose?)

"Jem cut the tops off every Camelia bush MrsDubose owned"

"Mrs Dubose was a morphine addict .... she said she was gonig to leave this world beholden to nothing and nobody"

"I wanted you to see what real courage is instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand"(Atticus)

3. Racism

- Although Mrs Dubose seems harsh, she is only saying what everyone else is thinknig.

- Lula has a problem with white children in the coloured church.

- Coloured churchis used as a gambling hall at night. -> Whites exploiting blacks.

- Dolphus Raymond is more socially accepted as an alcoholic than as a man who is in love with a black woman.

- Colour determines position in society.

- The courtroom is segregated although the blacks are ironically placed "above" the whites.

- Black chauffer works for Aunt Alexandra -> Blacks exploited.

- Cal spaeks in different vernacular depending on whether she is with blacks or whites.

- Blacks denied voice in white community

- "A Black dog suffered on a summer's day" (in description of maycomb) This represents the blacks suffering (perhaps from strenuous labour on a hot day?)

- Cousin Francis says that Atticus is "ruining the family" by taking on Tom Robinson's case.

- The flag in the courtroom represents the unity of the country, and yet the blacks are excluded from the democratic process.

- When the sherrif arrested Boo (Arthur) Radleyhe "hadn't the heart to put him in jail alongside negroes".

- Even Mayella still has a higher social status than theblack people.

- Aunt Alexandra passes on her racist assumptions to Francis ("Nigger Lover")

- Lula symbolises black racism towards whites.

- The jury are racist.

- Cal can't use black vernacular among whites.

- The racism is internalised by the town, the children absorb it without realising.

Quotes on Racism

"This case is as simple as black and white" (Atticus) <- The case is based on racial assumptions.

"Your father's no better than the niggers and trash he works for" (Mrs Dubose)

"Maycomb's usual disease" <-Racism/Prejudice

"It is ten times worse to cheat a black man than to cheat a white man" (Atticus - even he is racist sometimes)

4. Cruelty/Kindness

+ Boo mends Jem's trousers.

+ Jem invites Walter Cunningham to dinner.

+ Jem reads to Mrs Dubose longer than he needs to.

+ Boo wraps a blanket around Scout at Miss Maudie's house fire

+ Boo leaves presents for the children in the hole in the tree.

+ Miss Maudie bakes cakes for the children and speaks to them in a non-patronising way.

+ Tom Robinson helps Mayella and sympathises with her.

+ Atticus defends Tom Robinson in court.

+ The Black Church do a collection for Tom's wife. (name?)

x Mr. Radley closes the hole in the tree for no good reason.

x Bob Ewell spits on Atticus (+molests his daughter & tries to have Tom Robinson killed)

x Dill is neglected by his parents.

x Mayella accuses Tom despite his innocence (?)

+/x Mrs Dubose sends Jem the the head of the flower after she died. Is this good or bad ? Was it a sign of forgiveness or a reminder of what he had done ?

5. Innocence/Naivety

- Scout uses her fist before her mind

- Scout asks Atticus "What is rape?"

- Scout & Jem cry at things that do not effect the adults

- The metaphor of the mockingbird -> innocence

6. Family & Home Life

- Dill - photo of "family" - new dad, him ,mum - Stereotypical of an ideal family

- Family life forms the person you are ?

- Calpernia neglects her family to look aftyer the Finch family, Scout is not even aware that she has her own family for quite some time.

- Boo Radley is ostracised by his family because he did not live up to their expectations.

- Scout fights her cousin to defend her father.

- Maycomb is fearful of the Radley and Ewell families.

- Dill becomes part of the Finch family.

- Scout fights Walter Cunnighnham to defend her family.

- Atticus is an unconventional father figure.

- Dolphus Raymond's mixed race family is socially accepted.

- Aunt Alexendra has idealistic views and great pride in her family.

- Jem looks out for Scout.

- Calpurnia is considered part of the Finch family.

- The Ewells are a single parent family - Just like the Finches

7. Feminism / Sexism

- Scout wears dresses over trousers

- Misogonystic Ewells - Women are sex objects to them

- Women are seen as a source of sin

- Oppressive ideal- women are expected to be quiet, subservient, docile creatures.

- Mayella manipulatesthe courtroom with her femininity.

- "Women need protected" - Miss Caroline is protected by one of the younger male students.

- Women & Children are orderedout of the courtroom when it gets too "harsh"for them.

- Scout beats up Walter ( Going completely against feminine ideal)

- Jem tells Scout she should act more like a lady.

Quotes of feminism/Sexism

"I felt the starched wall of a pink cotton penetentiory closing in on me" (Scout on having to put on a dress)

"You must try and behave like the little lady and gentlman you are" (Aunt Alexandra)

8. Religion

- "All women must be religious".

- People made to swear over the bible in court - What about those who arn't Christians ?

- Black church not respected - White men gamble in it.

- Religion in Black community is sincere &practical (Raiase $10 for Helen")

- Foot-washing-baptists hurl abuse at Miss Muadie for her flowers& beautiful garden.

- There is a lot of religious superstition in Maycomb

- Mr Avery blames the childrenwhen it snows - thinks it is God punishing them.

- Aunt Alexandra is religious but racist - Hypocritical.

Quotes on religion

"I wants to know why you bringin' white chillun to a nigger church"


"Let this cup pass from you eh?" (Uncle Jack to Atticus, in reference to the trial. Cup - religious implication)

Okay, who wants to do the Poetry ??.>.>Not me


(Please feel free to add or correct anything =])

Also please excuse the multitude of typos
It's late & I'm tired
So sh'up

Characters will be up tomorrow or the next day.
Tags: english literature, to kill a mockingbird
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