Author Topic: TKAM Questions & Discussion Chapters 1-6  (Read 4518 times)  

Online Betsy the Quilter

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TKAM Questions & Discussion Chapters 1-6
« on: August 01, 2014, 07:08:45 PM »
Do you find the characters likable? Are the characters persons you would want to meet?

How is racial prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination exemplified in the novel? (Ongoing question)

How does the town of Maycomb function as a character with its own personality, rather than merely as a backdrop for the novel's events? How essential is the setting to the novel? Could the novel have taken place anywhere else?  (Ongoing question)

Why do you think Harper Lee chose as her novel's epigraph this quote from Charles Lamb: "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once"?
 
Atticus believes that to understand life from someone else's perspective, we must "walk in his or her shoes."

From what other perspectives does Scout see her fellow townspeople?

Scout ages two years--from six to eight--over the course of Lee's novel, which is narrated from her perspective as an adult. Did you find the account her narrator provides believable? (Ongoing questions)

Since their mother is dead, several women-Calpurnia, Miss Maudie, and Aunt Alexandra- function as mother figures to Scout and Jem.  As we read the book, think about how these women influence Scout's growing understanding of what it means to be a Southern "Lady."
« Last Edit: August 01, 2014, 07:29:49 PM by Betsy the Quilter »
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Offline Geoffrey

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Re: TKAM Questions & Discussion Chapters 1-6
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2014, 08:13:18 AM »
Likability - I hated Scout at first.  Self-centered, spoiled rich kid who needed to be taught some manners.  She grew on me in later chapters we haven't read, but in this part of the book, she's not likable at all ... but this leads into the question about perspective.  In the opening chapters, she has her perspective and others.  She can't see how Walter can possibly be poor or too proud to take money from the teacher; she can't understand how he can eat differently from her...  She's too young, inexperienced, self-absorbed or all three to understand.



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Re: TKAM Questions & Discussion Chapters 1-6
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2014, 07:30:51 AM »
Do you find the characters likable? Are the characters persons you would want to meet?

Scout strikes me as a fairly typical -- though clearly precocious -- 6 year old. Of course, she's seen through the lens, presumably, of her own self many years later. That said, one ought maybe to be impressed with how honest she is -- a lesser writer wouldn't have pointed out that she got in great trouble for being rude to young Cunningham at dinner. And put in time out by the hired help -- though Calpurnia is clearly more than just that. And her own sense of self-importance isn't at all surprising -- she's 6, after all. At that point in life it IS 'all about ME'. :D

Characterization so far is pretty surface -- as would be the case of a kid talking about folks -- possibly doesn't have the capacity to delve deeper. But I did like how she made a point of saying Atticus uses big lawyerly words but she and Jem both are allowed to interrupt and ask for a definition of anything they don't understand without fear of reprisal. That's a good dad. Though I don't get why she calls him by his first name.

The first grade teacher is . . . . . . :o :o :o I can't begin to comprehend a teacher telling a kid who can already read that they've been taught wrong and she'll have to fix it! :o :o :o  And, nowadays, the parent would've been at the school that minute raking her over the coals. :D Rather than saying, "look, we'll continue to read together and you just try to keep your nose clean and do what you're told at school."

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How is racial prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination exemplified in the novel? (Ongoing question)

Periodic use of racial slurs as normal words.  Which, of course, at the time, they were. Definite distinction of class -- negative connotation of acting 'colored' by both races about both races.

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How does the town of Maycomb function as a character with its own personality, rather than merely as a backdrop for the novel's events? How essential is the setting to the novel? Could the novel have taken place anywhere else?  (Ongoing question)

The small town atmosphere is pretty important I think -- back when you knew all the neighbors, kids ran fairly wild, but also knew that if any of those neighbors 'caught them at something they shouldn't be doing that it would get back to home and would not go well. Not like now where parents get visited by the police for letting their kids go to the park on their own! :o

Quote

Why do you think Harper Lee chose as her novel's epigraph this quote from Charles Lamb: "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once"?

Atticus is a lawyer -- but clearly remembers what's it's like to be a kid -- and that informs his relationship to Jem and Scout

Quote

Atticus believes that to understand life from someone else's perspective, we must "walk in his or her shoes."

From what other perspectives does Scout see her fellow townspeople?

I think she's still working on this -- in the first six chapters it's still all about Scout. Though with a bit of empathy for Jem when he loses his pants.

Quote

Scout ages two years--from six to eight--over the course of Lee's novel, which is narrated from her perspective as an adult. Did you find the account her narrator provides believable? (Ongoing questions)

So far, yes. If anything you'd expect her to make Scout a little more perfect. But she's relating flaws and all and they feel very 6-year-old to me.

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Since their mother is dead, several women-Calpurnia, Miss Maudie, and Aunt Alexandra- function as mother figures to Scout and Jem.  As we read the book, think about how these women influence Scout's growing understanding of what it means to be a Southern "Lady."

yes, teacher. :D

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Offline deckard

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Re: TKAM Questions & Discussion Chapters 1-6
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2014, 09:03:15 AM »
Do you find the characters likable? Are the characters persons you would want to meet?

So far, Scout and Jem and Dill seem to be typical kids. At least, so far that is revealed and what I can remember of childhood. I can't say I dislike them at this point.but some things would wear on me.

I like Atticus and Calpurnia. The kind of people I would like to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with just sitting on the front porch in Maycomb watching the world roll by.

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How is racial prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination exemplified in the novel? (Ongoing question)

I would like to expand this to include other than racial prejudice/intolerance/discrimination. The major overriding one is racial but there are other just as important.

The first grade teacher, for whatever reason, believes she knows how to teach the "right way" and all other ways are wrong. An intolerance to other ideas being acceptable or even, God forbid, better.

Scout asks Atticus "are we rich?" Though not a statement of prejudice or bias, there is a distinction between those who have and those that don't have in the book. Again, not a prejudice but a distinction between people.

The most obvious to me, other than the racial prejudice, is how Boo and the entire Radley family is looked on. They are different and looked at suspiciously.

The stigma of being different in the novel is paramount. Leading to Atticus saying, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--- Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Lee could have used the expression "walk in his shoes" but used the phrasing of climbing into his skin instead.

Quote
How does the town of Maycomb function as a character with its own personality, rather than merely as a backdrop for the novel's events? How essential is the setting to the novel? Could the novel have taken place anywhere else?  (Ongoing question)

"Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town."

I think the town of Maycomb and the area surrounding influences the characters, their beliefs and actions. There is a brief section early on where Harper Lee gives a brief history of the Finch family and how Atticus and his brother being ones who didn't remain on Finch's Landing, not making their living from cotton. How did Atticus becoming a lawyer and his brother becoming a doctor, moving away from Maycomb, make each different from the people who didn't move on? The setting of Maycomb is as much part of the story as it is in Faulkner's works in my opinion.

Then again, I could be wrong about things.

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Re: TKAM Questions & Discussion Chapters 1-6
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2014, 09:07:08 AM »
The first grade teacher is . . . . . . :o :o :o I can't begin to comprehend a teacher telling a kid who can already read that they've been taught wrong and she'll have to fix it! :o :o :o  And, nowadays, the parent would've been at the school that minute raking her over the coals. :D Rather than saying, "look, we'll continue to read together and you just try to keep your nose clean and do what you're told at school."

A was more put out by Atticus' response than the teacher's.  In fact, I didn't blink at her response at all.  My elementary school teacher got very mad at me for knowing how to to read in 1st grade and all through 1st and 2nd grades constantly made little biting comments about my selecting books above my reading level or reading wrong, etc...  I have very clear memories of my mother and my teacher have a knock down drag out screaming match over it at one point; my mother fought her every step of the way but the teacher never waivered in her belief that there was only one correct way to learn to read.



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Re: TKAM Questions & Discussion Chapters 1-6
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2014, 09:56:10 AM »
A was more put out by Atticus' response than the teacher's.  In fact, I didn't blink at her response at all.  My elementary school teacher got very mad at me for knowing how to to read in 1st grade and all through 1st and 2nd grades constantly made little biting comments about my selecting books above my reading level or reading wrong, etc...  I have very clear memories of my mother and my teacher have a knock down drag out screaming match over it at one point; my mother fought her every step of the way but the teacher never waivered in her belief that there was only one correct way to learn to read.

See, and, while I didn't read when I went to school, I picked it up fast.  I was way above my grade level pretty quick -- and would have been quicker if it hadn't taken to 2nd grade before a teacher realized I couldn't see the blackboard.  'course, that's probably why I took to books -- they were right in front of me, not across the room. anyway, I was definitely encouraged, most of the time, to read anything I wanted.  The teachers were maybe a little more careful about 'age appropriate' but my parents pretty much didn't care. If I could reach the book on the shelf, I was allowed to read it. I don't ever recall being told I was doing it wrong, though some were exasperated when I voiced opinions about books I thought were 'stupid' -- usually because they were exceedingly simple compared to what I read for fun.

My older brother could read when he got to 1st grade and was promptly put in 2nd grade.

That said, my parents were definitely on our side -- my younger brother had one teacher who pretty much labeled him stupid and refused to even try to teach him. Flat out said he was 'retarded' and should be in a special school. My mother basically taught him and refused to let that teacher get away with bullying him. But I totally get why Atticus didn't want to make waves.  He knew Scout was way ahead of the curve, and probably smarter than most, and figured it'd be easier for her all the way around if she learned to understand that -- walk around in other folks skin -- and not make a big deal out of whatever advantages she might have.  Given the time and place, probably most of those kids barely had a parent who could read, let alone teach 'em to before school.


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Offline hamerfan

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Re: TKAM Questions & Discussion Chapters 1-6
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2014, 02:25:46 PM »
Okay, here goes. Just to keep myself relevant to the questions, I stopped reading at chapter 25 and started over from the beginning.

1. Yes. I found all the characters likable. The interaction between the characters is one of the many great (to me) things about this book. As for the characters being believable, yes for the most part. For some reason, little Chuck Little came across as being a prop, something to add to the plot but really doesn't. I don't know why I think that.
2. I've never lived in the deep south, or even the shallow south, but I think the race issue is presented honestly for the time frame of the book. Having read on the subject (and wishing I could recall some of the great quotes about it) the book's portrayal is an honest and "normal" account of the time.
3. Having lived in a couple of small towns, Maycomb seems real in the book. It is its own character, for better or worse. Maybe there should've been more gossipers in the characters given, but that would only detract.
4. Because it's apt.
5. Very true, and I think it fits Atticus's character's to his soul. His view on life, and people, speaks this sentiment in every circumstance.
6. As both the 6-8 year old, and as the adult narrating the story. Either that, or I dunno.
7. Totally. She gives both the good and the bad.
8. As of now, Scout has nothing to do with wanting to be a "Lady". We'll see how this attitude progresses.

Great questions, Betsy. Thank you for doing this.
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