Sunday, August 14, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird - Thoughts and Impressions

First - my apology for not following the  schedule. I'm not a very good blogger... July was filled with costume making, travels to Door County Renaissance Faire, plans for restoring a schoolhouse in Dalton, WI with my cousin, and Ragbrai. July was gone in the blink of an eye. I will move the other discussions all forward one month.

Thoughts and Impressions

I have seen the movie several times and performed in a stage version when I was in college, but this is the first time I have read this classic coming of age story. I was thoroughly enthralled the entire book and loved reading my favorite scenes from the movie like when Scout rolls down the street in the old tire, when Atticus shoots the rabid dog to the surprise of the kids looking on, the antics of going up to the Radley house, and of course, the court scenes.

There is plenty of literary criticism on this book and I certainly can't add anything new to that discussion. I would like to share thoughts and impressions I am left with. And then I will talk about the food in the book and give you links to recipes talked about in the book.

What were some of your favorite scenes?

I really liked reading the scenes and about the characters who didn't make the cut for the movie. Combined, these early scenes really gave a sense of the depth of community; so, when we came to the trial, it was easy to imagine Scout's confusion about what was going on after her everyday experiences of closeness in her community.  I especially enjoyed the scenes of her first day of school and of Scout and Jem going to church with Calpurnia.
One scene that really struck me happened in Chapter 24; Aunt Alexandra and her missionary circle are meeting at the house all dressed up and eating fancy foods. Mrs. Merriweather's hypocrisy and complete lack of compassion aren't missed by the group. Do you think she is the archetypal southern woman who at once preaches her version of a Christian message and then judges the victim? "Thing that church ought to do is help her lead a Christian life for those children from here on out." Scout interrupts to ask if she is referring to Mayella Ewell and Mrs. Merriweather responds, "...No, child... Tom's wife, Tom --" not knowing the family's last name, Scout finishes for her, "Robinson, ma'am." Mrs. Merriwweather goes on to complain about how her day is just ruined by her staff being "sulky" after the verdict of guilty was announced: "...'Sophy' I said, 'you simply are not being a Christian today. Jesus Christ never went around grumbling and complaining.'...I tell you, Gertrude, you never ought to let an opportunity go by to witness for the Lord." Yikes. The Jesus I know would have indeed been grumbling and complaining the day Tom Robinson was found guilty. This whole seen was made more disturbing after reflecting on the Christian compassion evident at Calpurnia's church

What are your thoughts about the missionary women's meeting? Thoughts about hypocrisy, religion, how these values are passed on, etc.

 Who were were your favorite characters?  

I of course love Calpurnia and Atticus, Scout, Jem, and Dill. A new character I got a real kick out of was the town drunk who wasn't really drunk at all! Mr. Dolphus Raymond first appears on page 182 "drinkin' out of a sack." We learn that he's "got a colored woman and all sorts of mixed chillun...[but] he owns all one side of the riverbank down there, and he's from a real old family to boot." Go to the following link to see another blogger's impression of Dolphus Raymond

Of course later we learn that he isn't really drinking but he just acts like that so people will leave him alone.

What is your impression about the way people have to behave in order to fit in or avoid harassment in Maycomb? Dolphus acts drunk, the Radleys stay in doors, the Robinson's have to be careful walking by the Ewell's, the Ewells don't seem to care, Aunt Alexandra's expectations of Scout, etc.

One last question. 
When the book was being published for its 50th anniversary in 2010, some people thought the language should be changed; specifically, the use of the "n" word should be eliminated. What was your reaction to the language used and do you think it should be changed in future publications?

I have rambled on enough. What are your impressions?

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