This week we read chapters 10-14 of the book, and all of the detail in this short amount of the novel is really amazing. There’s so much conflict with Scout and Jem as they grow up, and with Atticus as a father doing what’s right for his kids. Atticus brings Aunt Alexandra to stay with Scout and Jem over the summer, which interested me a lot because it’s out of his character to force Scout to be a lady. We talked about this during the discussion, and the contrast between what values Atticus is teaching the kids and society’s values is a major issue.
Atticus had a big role in these chapters, and I marked two quotations I thought were extremely important in the book. The first one was on page 90 when Atticus said, “‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,'” (roll credits). We talked about this line during the discussion, and Mr. Heidt left us with the question of who exactly the “mockingbirds” in the story are. Mockingbirds are symbols of innocence, and I think if we treat Scout and Jem as the mockingbirds, the book can represent the death of their innocence in life.
Another quote was on page 112 where Atticus said, “‘I wanted you to see something about her – 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,'”. I loved this line because it was after the scene where Jem and Scout read to Mrs. Dubose every day and she dies from her morphine addiction. When this was brought up in the discussion, it became evident as to just how wise Atticus really is. What he said was beautiful, because it’s true. Being courageous is fighting for the power to be an individual and be free, not hiding behind a weapon.
One other thing I liked about our discussion is how we brought up Jem’s growing respect for Atticus. After Atticus shoots Tim Johnson, Jem stops bringing up the fact that his dad doesn’t do anything cool. Instead, he says to Scout that, “‘Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!'” (Lee 99). It’s pretty adorable that Jem looks up to his dad like that, but it also marks his change in character as he matures from Part One to Part Two.
For the next discussion, I want to bring up the two questions below:
- What characters represent the mockingbirds, and what does this mean for them?
- Why does Atticus give in to Aunt Alexandra’s desire to represent the Finch name and make the family conform to society?
The first one I explained above, but the second one I want to go more into detail with because of the observation I made that Atticus making the kids act a certain way is not in his character at all. I’m interested to see if he’ll stay true to himself or give in to the wishes of society.