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Gender in To Kill A Mockingbird

Gender in To Kill A Mockingbird

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Gender in To Kill A Mockingbird

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  1. Gender in To Kill A Mockingbird Does the novel reinforce or deconstruct traditional gender roles? Theme: Traditional gender roles are just another set of harmful prejudices

  2. Plot Summary • The Finch Family • Atticus, Scout • Jem, Calpurnia • Setting

  3. Plotline 1: Boo Radley • Stories about Boo

  4. Plotline 1: Boo Radley • Items in the tree • Saving Jem and Scout • Appearance and reality

  5. Plotline 2: Tom Robinson • Who tom is, where he lives • What happens to Tom • The trial and the result • Prejudice

  6. Plotline 3: The Kids Growing Up • The action follows Jem and Scout through a few years as they learn and grow • They have many different adult influences on them

  7. Jem: • 115 – Overnight, it seemed, Jem had acquired an alien set of values and was trying to impose them on me: several times he went as far as to tell me what to do. After one altercation when Jem hollered, “It’s time you started bein’ a girl and acting right!” I burst into tears and fled to Calpurnia.” • How this reflects Scouts tom-boy childhood in general

  8. Mrs. Dubose • 101 – “Don’t you contradict me … and you!” she pointed an arthritic finger at me – “what are you doing in those overalls? You should be in a dress and camisole, young lady! You’ll grow up waiting on tables if someone doesn’t change your ways.” • How Scout is un-lady like, and the expectations of Maycomb around gender roles

  9. Aunt Alexandra • Why she comes to stay with them • 237 – Aunt Alexandra looked across the room at me and smiled. She looked at a tray of cookies on the table and nodded at them. I carefully picked up the tray and watched myself walk to Mrs. Merriweather. With my best company manners, I asked her if she would have some. • How Scout eventually does mature and grow into a proper “lady” (at least a bit)

  10. Theme: Traditional Gender Roles are just another set of harmful prejudices • What gender roles are • How scout is under “gender role” pressure • How Patriarchal societies have used gender roles to limit the freedom of women • Women couldn’t act in Shakespeare’s plays • Women couldn’t vote in most countries until well into the 20th century • Women were not allowed to have important careers until well into the 20th century • It was socially understood that it was “normal” for women to simply take care of the home, and occupy the “domestic” sphere

  11. Maycomb Gender Roles v.s Scout • What can you do in overalls? • What can you do (or not do) in a skirt?

  12. From Innocence to Prejudice • Context of quotation: Jem is saying he’s learned that there are 4 classes of people (hierarchy) – regular people, Cunninghams, Ewells, Blacks (high class, working class, trash, racially inferior) • Scout’s response: • 227 – “everybody’s gotta learn, nobody’s born knowin’. That Walter’s as smart as he can be, he just gets held back sometimes because he has to stay out and help his daddy. Nothin’s wrong with him. Naw, Jem, I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”

  13. From Innocence to Prejudice • The shows how prejudice can inhabit a population, and how people learn prejudice. • The tom robinson plotline shows learned racial prejudice – how different races should act in relation to each other • The boo Radleyplotine shows prejudice as a result of ignorance • Scout’s development shows the prejudice of gender – how different genders should act in relation to each other

  14. Theme: Traditional Gender Roles are just another set of harmful prejudices • What is the message of the book in terms of Gender Roles? • Does the book say (does Harper Lee say) that Scout should become a lady and do what is right? • No, it shows how she is pressured to do this, but in fact points out how arbitrary and unnecessary this should be

  15. Theme: Traditional Gender Roles are just another set of harmful prejudices • Harper Lee expresses her arguments through her heroic characters • How does Atticus, the most logical and sensible character, feel about Scout being lady-like? • How does Mr. Link Deas react to Mr. Ewell harassing Helen Robinson? • What is special about the character of Dolphus Raymond?

  16. Atticus • 112 – “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. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. • Atticus in the hero of the novel, and he expresses the ethical standard of thinking about what is right, and doing what is right.

  17. Theme: Traditional Gender Roles are just another set of harmful prejudices • What is right? • Treating people equally is right. Whether it is black people and white people, or popular people and reclusive people, or female people and male people. • One of the themes in TKAM is that patriarchal gender roles are just another set of harmful prejudices.