Assignment 01: COMPULSORY
20 August 2012 – semester 2 Unique no.: 673276
Topic: Essay on the prescribed novel. In order to do this assignment you need to have read the book To Kill a Mockingbird. ‘Cry about what, Mr Raymond?’
‘Cry about the simple hell people give other people – without even thinking…’ In an essay of approximately 1000 to 1500 words give your opinion of the prescribed novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Your essay should deal with aspects of the book such as symbolism, pathos, humour, and satire. You should round off your essay by stating whether or not you consider this book to be useful and relevant to your future career as a teacher.
A delightful novel which bought back memories from when I first read it whilst a learner at school. As an adult I can appreciate Harper Lee’s use of symbolism, pathos, humour, and satire. I especially enjoy the manner in which Harper Lee effectively used symbols to demonstrate rejection of prejudice and racism. Symbolism “the practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships”. Songbirds and their associated symbolism appear throughout the novel. The family's last name of Finch also shares Lee's mother's maiden name. The titular mockingbird is a key motif of this theme, which first appears when Atticus, having given his children air-rifles for Christmas, allows their Uncle Jack to teach them to shoot. Atticus warns them that, although they can "shoot all the bluejays they want", they must remember that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird". Confused, Scout approaches her neighbor Miss Maudie, who explains that mockingbirds never harm other living creatures. She points out that mockingbirds simply provide pleasure with their songs, saying, "They don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us." Writer Edwin Bruell summarized the symbolism when he wrote in 1964, "'To kill a mockingbird' is to kill that which is innocent and harmless—like Tom Robinson." Lee often returns to the mockingbird theme when trying to make a moral point. The mockingbird symbolizes something or someone who is attacked by society unjustly. Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are symbolized as mockingbirds. Tom Robinson a black man who works as a field hand is like a mockingbird in relation to Mayella because all he ever did was try to help and treat her right. When Bob and Mayella Ewell accused Tom of raping Mayella it was like killing a mockingbird. And again it was like killing a mockingbird when Tom was convicted of rape. Boo Radley was a very mysterious, but caring and harmless, man. During his rescue of Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell he kills Bob Ewell. Atticus wanted to put Boo on trail but it soon became apparent that if he did so, it would be just like killing a mocking bird. All Boo ever did was try to protect the children from Bob Ewell. Both Boo Radley and Tom Robinson, are peaceful people who never intend to do any harm. To kill or harm them would be as great a sin as killing a mockingbird, is a harmless bird that makes the world more pleasant.
Although the mockingbird is the most prominent symbol in the novel we encounter symbolic character names as well as other symbols such as the snowman Jem and Scout build one winter. There is not enough snow for the snowman, so Jem uses dirt for the foundation and then covers it with the snow that they have on the ground. The snowman is symbolic in that Jem is trying to cover up the black ‘man’ and showing that he is the same as the white man, just with a different colour. ‘‘‘Jem I ain’t ever heard of a n***** snowman’, I said.” “He won’t be black long’, he grunted.”’ (p.89) The snowman is a symbol of racism which is also integral to the theme of the novel. The symbol of the snowman can be seen as mixing both races together while the symbol of the mockingbird can be seen as segregation from those who are different. The symbols give depth to the novel and...
References: 1. Wehmeier, Sally, ed. 2005. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. 7th edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
2. Prozesky, S et al. 2008. This round and delicious globe. Study Guide for EED202K. University of South Africa Press.
3. Lee, H. 1960. To kill a mockingbird. Heinemann.
4. Tutorial letter EED202K/101/3/2012. University of South Africa Press.
5. Davey, B & Nonkwelo N. 2011. Second impression. Literature Study Guide. To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee. Maskew Miller Longman.
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