n. Objective: To understand how setting and atmosphere contribute to the novel. Setting Maycomb is a microcosm of American society in the 1930s. It is wrapped up in its own problems.
Setting contribute to the novel
Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop, grass grew on the sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square... Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o’ clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft tea-cakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.
People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people; Maycomb County had recently been told that there was nothing to fear but fear itself.
The Radley place jutted into a sharp curve beyond our house. Walking south, one faced its porch; the sidewalk turned and ran beside the lot. The house was low, was once white with a deep front porch and green shutters, but had long ago darkened to the colour of the slate-grey yard around it. Rain-rotten shingles drooped over the eaves of the veranda; oak trees kept the sun away. The remains of a picket drunkenly guarded the front yard.
The churchyard was brick-hard clay, as was the cemetery beside it. If someone died during a dry spell the body was covered with chunks of ice until rain softened the earth. A few graves in the cemetery were marked with crumbling tombstones; newer ones were outlined with brightly coloured glass and broken Coca-Cola bottles. Lightening rods guarding some graves denoted dead who rested uneasily; stumps of burned out candles stood at the heads of infant graves. It was a happy cemetery.
Maycomb’s Ewells lived behind the town garbage dump in what was once a negro cabin. The cabin’s plank walls were supplemented with sheets of corrugated iron, its roof shingled with tin cans hammered flat... Square, with four tiny rooms opening on to a shotgun hall, the cabin rested uneasily upon four irregular lumps of limestone. Its windows were merely open spaces in the walls, which in the summer-time were covered with greasy strips of cheese-cloth to keep out the varmints that feasted on Maycomb’s refuse.
A dirt road ran from the highway past the dump, down to a small Negro settlement some five hundred yards beyond the Ewells’. It was necessary either to back out to the highway or go the full length of the road and turn around; most people turned around on the Negroes’ front yards. In the frosty December dusk, their cabins looked neat and snug with pale smoke rising from the chimneys and doorways glowing amber from the fires inside. There were delicious smells about...
Then I saw the shadow. It was the shadow of a man with a hat on. At first I thought it was a tree, but there was no wind blowing, and tree trunks never walked. The black porch was bathed in moonlight, and the shadow, crisp as toast, moved across the porch towards Jem.
Dill saw it next. He put his hands to his face.
When it crossed Jem, Jem saw it. He put his arms over his head and went rigid.
The shadow stopped about a foot beyond Jem. Its arm came out from its side , dropped and was still.
The south side of the square was deserted. Giant monkey- puzzle bushes bristled on each corner, and between them an iron hitching rail glistened under the streetlights. A light shone in the county toilet, otherwise that side of the court-house was dark. A larger square of stores surrounded the court- house square, dim lights burned from deep within them
As a starter today, I would like you each to write into your exercise books a key moment in your own life when you have realised that you are growing up. Then I would like you to consider the novel, and give an example of how growing up is shown. You have 5 minutes
A little black thing among the snow,Crying! 'weep! weep!' in notes of woe!'Where are thy father and mother? Say!' -'They are both gone up to the church to pray......
'Because I was happy upon the heath,And smiled among the winter's snow,They clothed me in the clothes of death,And taught me to sing the notes of woe......
'And because I am happy and dance and sing,They think they have done me no injury,And are gone to praise God and His priest and king,Who made up a heaven of our misery.
What lessons do you think Jem learns in the novel? How is he shown to be ‘growing up’?
Varied meanings of growth, Jem’s experiences and the events and punishments of his formative years in Maycomb
He is still a little boy when he ‘walks like an Egyptian’, he cannot deal with the comments of Mrs Dubose as an adult and reacts with the rage of an upset child. Any more examples...?
Reading chapter 8 as a class please
Imagine you are Scout watching the fire. exercise books a key moment in your own life when you have realised that you are growing up. Then I would like you to consider the novel, and give an example of how growing up is shown. You have 5 minutes
How is growing up presented within the novel? Make reference to specific events within the text in your answer.
This can be finished for homework. Set aside a realistic amount of time for this. Do not write pages and pages as this would be unrealistic during exam conditions. PLAN!!
Objective: To understand the significance of the shooting to the novel.
To understand how Atticus contributes to the development of Jem and Scout.
Read Chapter 10 as a class
Look for the following:
“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
Objective: To explore the significance of minor characters and their contribution to the key themes of the novel
‘She was horrible. Her face was the colour of a dirty pillow-case, and the corners of her mouth glistened with wet, which inched like a glacier down the deep grooves enclosing her chin. Old-age liver spots dotted her cheeks, and her pale eyes had black pin-point pupils. Her hands were knobbly, and the cuticles were grown up over her finger-nails. Her bottom plate was not in, and her upper lip protruded; from time to time she would draw her nether lip to her upper plate and carry her chin with it. This made the wet move faster.’ (pp112-113)
1o minutes. Bullet points. Silence.
Reinforces Atticus’ philosophy on life- she, like him, represents the voice of reason in a world of prejudice and hypocrisy
She is a sensible role model for Scout, and to an extent makes an impact upon the community in which she lives, despite her existence in a patriarchal and divided society. She acts as an ‘illuminator’- she often sheds light onto matters (and characters!) that the children cannot truly understand. Lee uses her as the holder of the puzzle pieces- she often slots things in to place
She acts as a vehicle for Lee to explore the role of women and issues of Christian compassion/hypocrisy
‘A chameleon lady’ (47)
‘She loved everything that grew in God’s earth, even the weeds’ (47)
‘She had an acid tongue in her head’ (49)
‘”There are some [...] who are so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one’” (50)
Let us read about Dolphus Raymond as a class and get the mark of the man. Page 220
Exam practice. characters.To what extent do you consider an understanding of Maycomb society to be crucial to our understanding of events in the novel as a whole?