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Chapters 1-6 to Kill a Mocking

Oct 08, 1999 818 Words
The first five chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird introduce the setting, atmosphere, theme, and many different characters, who have unique characteristics. The theme of prejudice is also developed in this introductory section. The Finch family and some of their neighbours are introduced as well, along with important elements such as the Radley house.

The Radley house is an important element of mystery in the beginning chapters. As Scout was describing the setting, she described the mysterious house by saying, "The Radley Place was inhabited by an unknown entity the mere description of whom was enough to make us behave for days on end," (Lee 6). Dill, who was from Meridian, Mississippi, was fascinated with the Radley house, and would stare at it for long periods of time. The house had darkened to the colour of the slate-gray yard around it. Johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco grew in abundance on the front yard. Inside of the house, people said there lived a "malevolent phantom" named Boo Radley (Lee 8). He supposedly went out at night and peeped into other people's windows. Scout also mentions, "When people's azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them." (Lee 9) Tall pecan trees shook their fruit into the schoolyard, from the Radley chickenyard. However, the nuts would lay untouched by the children, as it was said that Radley pecans would kill anyone who ate them (Lee 9).

Different types of prejudice are evident in this chapter. For instance, Scout refers to Walter as a "Cunningham", and this automatically places him in the poor class (Lee 20). Miss Caroline displays prejudice towards Scout because she can read. Scout is singled out after she reads to the class, and Miss Caroline accuses her of her father teaching her how to read (Lee 17). It seems as though more serious types and instances of prejudice will develop as the story progresses.

Atticus Finch is a respectable man and an example of his nature can be seen when Walter Cunningham is invited over to eat dinner. Atticus treated him with the same respect he would treat anyone else, even though Walter is poor (Lee 24). Another notable characteristic of Atticus is shown when he says to Scout, "We couldn't operate a single day without Cal, have you ever thought of that? You think about how much Cal does for you, and you mind her, you hear?" (Lee 25) Burris Ewell and Walter are both from poor backgrounds, yet they are quite different. Walter and his family are poor, but respectable. They are ambitious. This is evident because Walter attends school. Burris is also poor, but he does not have the ambition to attend school (Lee 30). He also has very little self-pride.

This chapter deals with Boo Radley and the way he interacts with his neighbours. Boo is an unknown character who causes much suspicion, especially among the children. By leaving gum in the trees, he is showing that he wants to make friends and be a part of the community (Lee 33). Even though Boo attempted to reach out, the children thought of him as an outcast. Their assumptions about Boo were displayed in their "Boo Radley Game". They portrayed Boo as crazy person, and this is shown in their game: "Jem, naturally, was Boo: he went under the front steps and shrieked and howled from time to time." (Lee 39) Miss Maudie Atkinson is a widow who lives across the street from the Finches. Her function thus far, is to provide some background information. For example, we learn more about Jack Finch because of her (Lee 43). Miss Maudie also provides more information on Boo Radley and seems to sympathize with him. This is shown when she says, "I remember Arthur Radley when he was a boy. He always spoke nicely to me, no matter what folks said he did." (Lee 46) Miss Maudie did not believe all of the rumors, and did not speak badly of Boo Radley. She seemed to like him, regardless of what others thought. Scout, on the other hand, believed rumors, such as how Boo died and was stuffed up in the chimney (Lee 43). Scout had the same view of Boo as most people in the neighbourhood did. She thought of him as an outcast, who had probably gone crazy.

Boo Radley and the Radley house are discussed quite a bit in this first section of the book. The Finch family is introduced well in the introductory chapters, along with neighbours and friends, such as Dill. We also learn very quickly that the story is told from Scout's view, and we get a sense of how she feels about others that she interacts with. Some instances of prejudice were also evident, and it seems as though there will be more

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