Hi guys! In GHEnglish the past few weeks we finally finished To Kill A Mockingbird! After having finishing the book, I can definitely say that I would recommend everyone to read this book at some point in their lives because I feel like it discusses many topics that some people today are still uncomfortable with talking about in today’s society. The way that issues like race, discrimination, white supremacy, drug abuse, isolation, rape,
alcoholism, and more are all looked at through the lens of a child allows for difficult topics like these to still be discussed, but in a way that’s not too intense or heavy for people to read about thanks to the ever-present aspect of childhood innocence that Scout brings to the story. I also think that Harper Lee probably shared many of the same views as Atticus on social issues, otherwise she wouldn’t have been able to write the book the way that she did, especially in a time period full of racial injustice and discrimination. You can check out this interesting site to get some very good background on some of the awful things that happened to non-white people during the 1930s and on. Although the book was (and still is!) controversial, I think that it gives a really good insight into an important part of American history that can’t and shouldn’t be forgotten, and the way that Harper Lee wrote the book helps to ensure that people are well educated on the issues of our past so that we don’t repeat our country’s previous mistakes.
So in an earlier blog post, I mentioned that I was put in the group that was tasked with following two characters from the book, Boo Radley and Calpurnia. After following both of these characters’ journeys throughout the story, I’m excited to talk about my characters and some of the insights that I’ve gained from them throughout the book. Since the end of the book is when Boo had his time in the spotlight, I will mainly be talking about him in this blog post.
In my previous blog post, I talked extensively about Calpurnia and her importance to the story, and many of the insights that I made in my last post still hold true to how I see Calpurnia after having finished the book. I think that Calpurnia is a somewhat flat, motherly character, and her main purpose to the story was to help keep the house in order as well as to teach Jem and Scout more about the ways of the world and help them grow up. While I don’t think that Calpurnia changed much throughout the book, I think that I gained a deeper appreciation for her character through her actions, demeanor, and lessons that she gave Jem and Scout throughout the book
Where do I even start with Boo Radley?? He’s a hero, a mockingbird, a stalker, a hermit, a murderer, what else could you ask for in a guy? Jokes aside though, I think that Boo is a true hero to the story and without his interference both Jem and Scout would have been killed at the hands of Bob Ewell. What I found really interesting is the way that Boo Radley was presented into the story, how he was hyped up to be such a menacing and mysterious character, but in reality he was just a shy man who was scared to be a part of the real world, hiding in the sanctuary of his home. Although we think that Boo has had no contact with the outside world, at the end of the book Scout realizes that Boo has always been watching:
“I looked behind me. To the left of the brown door was a long shuttered window. I walked to it, stood in front of it, and turned around. In daylight, I thought, you could see to the postoffice corner.
Daylight . . . in my mind, the night faded. It was daytime and the neighborhood was busy. Miss Stephanie Crawford crossed the street to tell the latest to Miss Rachel. Miss Maudie bent over her azaleas. It was summertime, and two children scampered down the sidewalk toward a man approaching in the distance. The man waved, and the children raced each other to him.
It was still summertime, and the children came closer. . . .
. . . Fall, and his children trotted to and fro around the corner, the day’s woes and triumphs on their faces. They stopped at an oak tree, delighted, puzzled, apprehensive.
Winter, and his children shivered at the front gate, silhouetted against a blazing house. . . .
Summer, and he watched his children’s heart break. Autumn again, and Boo’s children needed him” (page 279).
Although it wasn’t always apparent to us in the book, Boo was always a part of the story. He was in the same position as the reader, watching Jem and Scout grow and go through both the hardships and happy times of their lives. Boo may have even asked Scout to walk him home in an effort to show Scout that he had always been watching, and that he was a bigger part of everyone’s lives than they may know. I really admire the way that Harper Lee was able to incorporate Boo into the story in this way, without giving us too much insight into his life and maintaining Boo’s enigma-esque quality that first made the children intrigued by him.
So to mark the end of TKAM, we had two discussions in our GHEnglish class this past week! In the first discussion, we focused mainly on the very end of the book, talking a lot about when Bob Ewell was killed. The discussion revolved around who we thought did it, we came to the conclusion that Boo had killed Bob, and the ethics revolving the murder. Some people were wondering why there were so many different stories about the murder if Scout had seen it happen, but I think that Scout was too distressed from the experience to really know what had happened, despite her arguments that she was fine. Although Scout may want to deny it, she’s still a child and she still has a long ways to go before she’s grown up. All children want to act mature and brave at some points in their lives, and I think that after almost being killed, Scout wanted to put on a brave face for everyone to try to convince everyone, including herself, that she was fine despite the circumstances.
Our second discussion for TKAM was very different than the first, and we had to read “On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings” by William James before the second discussion took place. This essay, which we read just under half of, speaks very clearly of human nature and our understanding of one another, and it prompted one of my classmates to ask “Do we really lead secret lives if no one asks about them”. For some reason this question really stuck with me, and made me question the central theme of the book that our class has been focusing on, which is “the secret lives we lead”. I think that certain aspects of a person’s life which others may see as part of their “secret life” can only considered secret if this person is intentionally hiding them and/or they feel guilty about these aspects of their life. Take Atticus, for example: I personally don’t think that Atticus’s shooting ability should be considered Atticus’s “secret life” because the children never asked about it. Atticus was always truthful with his children, and I think that if they had asked him if he could shoot well he would have told him about his past, but they never asked and he certainly wasn’t just going to go around telling them about his shooting days, since that was behind him. Also, Atticus said that he didn’t want his children to be too invested in guns, saying, “…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” (page 112). Atticus was never hiding his past from his children, he just wasn’t forthcoming with the information because he didn’t want his children revolving around that aspect of his life.
I think that everyone has some part of their lives that most people don’t know about, just because people don’t ask enough questions about others, or we don’t know the right questions to ask. I think that if we figure out more ways to connect with others and ask these important questions, then we may be able to learn much more about the people in our lives and the stories that they have to tell.