We’ve started To Kill a Mockingbird! I’m pretty excited for it, because after reading the first 9 chapters I’m ready for more. At first I was afraid the book, which we call TKAM, was going to be a lot like Huck Finn, but it really surprised me. The novel centers around a girl main character, Scout, and seems more like a realistic fiction novel I would pick up on the shelves now than an old adventure novel.
I honestly am starting to love the book, which is helped by how much I relate to Scout. Her brother Jem is 4 years older than her, just like my brother with me, and she already knows how to read books at 6 years old. Her dad, Atticus, taught her to read from newspapers, which reminds me of how my dad taught me how to read off of shampoo bottles when I was 3. She has blunt bangs and follows her brother around everywhere, and if that isn’t the spitting image of little me I don’t know what is. I’m an avid reader just like her, and I would die if someone told me I wasn’t allowed to read. An important part of the book happens because of this same thing, when Miss Caroline tells Scout she can’t be as literate as she is. First off, the gender roles being forced here are annoying, as if a girl can’t read, but it also is denying Scout her right to be educated and limiting her ability to continue loving to read.
While reading the book we are focusing on the theme of “The secret lives we live”. We all hide parts of our identity from others in some way, but the question is why, and for what purpose? The Radleys’ all hide their lives, but even Atticus, Jem, and Scout show that they are hiding things from each other. An example of this is when Jem is crying on the porch after the knot in the tree was blocked, which I found odd. During our discussion today we talked about it, and I came to the conclusion that Jem was feeling empathetic for Boo Radley, who just lost his major means of communication with the outside world. Boo’s torture continues, and it’s understandable why Jem is so upset.
My character of focus is Atticus, who’s actually pretty interesting. At first he seemed like a boring, inattentive father, but he teaches Jem and Scout a lot through his own actions, which I really respect. Someone told me that he eventually becomes the antagonist, but I pray he doesn’t. His relationship with Scout is really sweet, and one of my favorite parts of the book is when he says to her, “‘If you’ll concede by the necessity of going to school, we’ll go on reading every night just as we always have. Is it a bargain?”” I love this scene because it shows that while he wants Scout to understand society, he cares about her in a way that he wants her to be happy as well.
Two questions I want to explore in our next discussion are:
- Why doesn’t Atticus seem more concerned with Jem and Scout’s interest in the Radleys?
- Why are characters like Scout’s aunt so against her being her own person?
I want to focus on these questions because I think Atticus is definitely hiding some knowledge from the kids, and I always hate how everyone think Scout should be a prim and proper lady. I’m curious to see what’s coming up next in the novel, especially with the trial.
Role of Women in the 1930’s South – Here’s an article that talks about the gender roles that affect Scout in the book in more depth. I talked a lot about women’s “prim and proper” appearance in our discussion, but I thought this showed the impact of it even better.