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To Kill A Mockingbird

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knitwit45
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby knitwit45 » March 11th, 2009, 9:45 pm

She only knew the wrath of Bob Ewell and she would rather lie and risk Tom Robinson going to jail for a crime he didn't commit than have to live with Ewell's rage.


Lynn, I always felt that she was terrified of her father, and that he was very abusive towards her. Even as a teen, when I first saw the movie (after reading the book about 10 times), I had the feeling that Ewell had done more that beat her,and was actually enraged and jealous. Am I way off base here?

She was trying to find "normal" love, even though she knew Tom was not interested. It seemed like Ewell's rage escalated into uncontrollable fury when Tom said "I felt sorry for her". A black man feeling sorry for a white woman??? How dare he.

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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby jdb1 » March 12th, 2009, 12:41 pm

knitwit45 wrote:
She only knew the wrath of Bob Ewell and she would rather lie and risk Tom Robinson going to jail for a crime he didn't commit than have to live with Ewell's rage.


Lynn, I always felt that she was terrified of her father, and that he was very abusive towards her. Even as a teen, when I first saw the movie (after reading the book about 10 times), I had the feeling that Ewell had done more that beat her,and was actually enraged and jealous. Am I way off base here?

She was trying to find "normal" love, even though she knew Tom was not interested. It seemed like Ewell's rage escalated into uncontrollable fury when Tom said "I felt sorry for her". A black man feeling sorry for a white woman??? How dare he.


No, Knitty, I don't think you've got it wrong. I always thought that the book intimated that there was something unhealthy going on between Ewell and his daughter, and that other people knew about it, probably Tom among them. I've wondered if she was pregnant by her father, and trying to find someone she could claim fathered her child.

The book, I think, does deal with those "Southern Gothic fiction" elements, but softens them, through Scout's eyes, since she doesn't understand all that is happening around her until much later. I suppose that's one of the reasons that people love this movie so much, because it gives a very realistic portrait of adult life as seen through child's eyes, but without any sugar coating. In effect, it is a novel of maturation, but even the harshest aspects of the events depicted have the soft-focus of happy memory.

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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby charliechaplinfan » March 12th, 2009, 3:55 pm

I read it the same way, I think she was abused physically and sexually but wants to protect her abuser father, she's scared of him, perhaps she needs to switch the blame to someone else and switches it to Tom. This doesn't excuse her, she needs saving from her father and perhaps because of the values she has been brought up with she sees Tom's life or freedom as a cheap price to pay.

It's a thought provoking story.
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby CharlieT » March 22nd, 2009, 8:07 pm

Good news for me! I was able to register for the TKaM series at the local technical college. I'm taking note of the discussion here and hope to advance some of your opinions and insights if they are not forwarded by others at the sessions. One observation that I hope to bring up for discussion is the non-typical (or should I say non-stereotypical) actions of Heck Tate. During the racial tensions of the 60's, we were given the impression that all small town law enforcement officers in the Deep South were the worst of racists and often either looked the other way when blacks were mistreated and abused, or were active perpetrators of the bigotry. Heck Tate showed a genuine empathy for the plight of Tom Robinson and treated him and Calpurnia with respect seldom seen from the white establishment of the post-Civil War South.

One note of correction. I stated that the film would be shown at our local theater, but it's scheduled to be shown at the Public Library (which is not a very suitable venue for showing a movie effectively). At least this showing is free to the public.

Even though one of the classes offered is a showing of the film, I'm still going to pull out my copy and refresh my memory prior to the beginning of the first class. I may even listen to my audio book of it narrated by Sissy Spacek next weekend - just to sharpen my memory of the differences between the book and the film.

First class is a week from tomorrow. I'll try to leave my impressions here.
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby movieman1957 » March 23rd, 2009, 8:30 am

Thanks Charlie. That would be a great addition.
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby knitwit45 » March 23rd, 2009, 9:32 am

Wonderful for you, Charlie! I'm sure you will bring some interesting things back, and I'm looking forward to hearing about your classes.

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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby charliechaplinfan » March 23rd, 2009, 2:54 pm

How I envy you Charlie, do let us know how it's going :D
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby CharlieT » March 31st, 2009, 3:04 pm

Hi, everyone.

I had my first class last night. The theme was "Placing To Kill A Mockingbird in Historical Context". The instructor was a professor of history at Ohio State University. He started with some biographical information about Harper Lee and her family - several times alluding to the corelations to the novel. He explained how A.C. Lee's life paralleled that of Atticus Finch and how it shaped both the real man and his semi-biographical representation in the book. I found out several facts about Ms. Lee that I wasn't aware of, such as, her first name was Nell, but she didn't want to write under it for fear that people would call her "Nellie". Her mother was bi-polar and wasn't around much when Harper was a child, and she turned this into Scout and Jem's mother having passed away when they were very young.

The majority of time in the class was spent in reviewing the Depression through photographs and stories and interviews with people raised in the Deep South during this period. Many of the social groups found in the book were represented through these visual aids - from the Finches to the Cunninghams to the Ewells and the Robinsons. A great emphasis was put upon the fact that the Jim Crow laws affected everyone's behavior to some extent. Even those who might have felt "enlightened" toward racial differences had to live by the codes of behavior that permeated the times and geographical setting. Of course, it was noted that even in the northern states, the segregation due to these same laws existed in a much more subtle presentation.

The class is offered to students 50 or older, and I, at 58, was the youngest in attendance. The class consists of about 15 women and 3 men. From the discussion, I think that just about everyone (except me) is a college graduate with teachers and nurses being in the majority. The discussion was very enjoyable and educational.

Next week's theme is "The Sociological Context of To Kill A Mockingbird".
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby moira finnie » March 31st, 2009, 4:13 pm

Thanks so much for posting your impressions of what sounds like a fascinating class, Charlie. I hope that you'll have time to add more after next week's class.
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby charliechaplinfan » April 1st, 2009, 1:50 pm

It does sound fascinating, please post aftr every lesson. I wish I was 50, not that they'd run any classes like that around here.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin

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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby movieman1957 » April 1st, 2009, 2:08 pm

This way you can have the benefit of Charlie's class without rushing your age. A great situation for you.
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby CharlieT » April 7th, 2009, 3:06 pm

Well, last night I had the second session in the Mockingbird series and it was very enjoyable. The theme was the sociological context of To Kill A Mockingbird and was taught by a sociology professor from the local branch of OSU. We discussed the relationship of social systems from the book and the way individuals interacted with those systems. She explained how the class definitions were defined by family (bloodlines), profession and land ownership. These things created the social structure that influenced the relationships of the different families from the book - the Finches, the Ewells, the Robinsons, the Cunninghams and the rest. Many of the points discussed here in this thread were stressed in our discussions of the relationships between Bob Ewell and his daughter, the white and black populations and the moral restrictions that influenced the outcome of Tom Robinson's trial. One such discussion focused on the elder Walter Cunningham's conflict between supporting the Ewell's claim against Tom because of race and his belief that Tom was innocent of the charges brought by May Ella. Another topic that was disected was Scout's tomboyishness and the number of characters trying to force her toward her future as a more feminine youth as was expected by the society she was a part of. The reaction of the other members of Calpurnia's church to her bringing white children there showed that even the black community expected the sociological lines of the day were not to be crossed over.

On a personal note, I don't think I'm the youngest one there anymore. One person who didn't make the first session was there last night and she appears younger than myself. She also happens to be the only African-American in the group and was able to bring a different perspective to some of the discussions. Next week we discuss the literary concepts of the book, so I'm going to have to get on the ball and finish rereading it - I'm just a little under halfway through right now. If I weren't reading Michener's Texas at work, I could have it done before Friday, but I'm only in the mid 500's in that 1300+ pager and I hate to slow down on it. I was able to bring something from it to the Mockingbird discussion last night. It mentioned the term "anomie", a sociological concept popularized by Emile Durkheim in the late 19th century. There were examples of this in To Kill A Mockingbird and I was able to draw these out when the instructor mentioned Durkheim's name. Talk about a fortuitous coincident. It made me look almost smart.

I'll be back with my impressions of next week's class on Tuesday next.
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby moira finnie » April 7th, 2009, 3:28 pm

CharlieT,
This is again so thought provoking, I love what you have written about the book so much that I started reading it again last week. I had to read a bunch of other work-related things so I didn't get far yet, but a few questions occurred to me.

Have you talked about the interactions between Scout, Jeb and Dill--as well as Boo Radley in the class? I thought that the kids in the book have their own subculture, separate and in some ways subversive of the adult world order. Was the sometimes brusque, yet affectionate and occasionally dominant role of Calpurnia toward the children addressed at all? She seemed to straddle both worlds in the way she treated the children.

Will the class talk at all about the fact that this is Harper Lee's only book, despite all the pressure she must have felt from her publisher to crank out another, (not to mention her cousin Truman Capote).

Thanks again for posting this.
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby CharlieT » April 7th, 2009, 5:59 pm

Hi, moira.

We actually talked about this being Harper Lee's only book in the first class. According to the professor, she got donations from several of her friend so she could take time off to write To Kill A Mockingbird. Once it became a huge sensation, she had no financial worries, but her time was taken up with dealing with the hoopla that accompanies a successful novel. It may be that, since this is semi-autobiographical, that she didn't have what she felt was a good follow-up idea for the second book. She actually lives a somewhat reclusive life in New York City now. I'm sure that much of this is covered by Charles Shields in his biography of her, Mockingbird.

We did discuss Calpurnia's role as a somewhat surrogate mother to Scout and Jem. She was so competent in her job that it was accepted that she could discipline them whenever necessary, but Scout did show resentment at the discipline, not because Cal was black, but because she was not used to being disciplined by Atticus. In a way, their relationship (Cal and Scout) reminds me of the one between Scarlett O'Hara and Mammy in Gone With the Wind.

We haven't talked much about the world of Scout, Jem and Dill yet, although I think it will be a major theme next week when we look at the literary content. We have talked some about Dill and his family situation in its social context and Boo Radley and the way he is considered a social pariah much like any person with an obvious disability in this type of culture.

Next week should be interesting since I know we have retired English teachers in the class who've taught this book to high schoolers and should be very well aware of the literary content. Gosh! If I learn much more, my head might explode!
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Re: To Kill A Mockingbird

Postby Ollie » April 8th, 2009, 8:20 am

Thanks for all of these notes, from CharlieT (lucky you!) and everyone else. I too have assumed heaps of all types of abuse were meted out by the father. While I am probably more fond of the book than the film, this is a story that does well in both formats and is a good example that "it CAN be done" - good books CAN make good films. I wish there weren't so many opposite examples!


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