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AQA English Literature 22/05/12 - To Kill A Mockingbird

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    (Original post by kizzyw)
    Would you be able to help me with Tom Robinson? Thanks
    Any particular aspects of him or just the basics? There are the basics about Tom such as him being polite, and hardworking and then there are a lot of deep meanings such as the use of language involving him. Such as his name being Robinson, the Robin bird is weak and small and sings compared to Bob Ewell who is a "bantam cock" that doesnt sing. Tom Robinson is also the mockingbird of the play because he is innocent and hasnt done anything ; and its a "sin to kill a mockingbird".
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    (Original post by kizzyw)
    Yeah okay thank you! Have you done much for revision for Tom Robinson? A teacher at my school thinks it could be him that comes up??
    He's a mockingbird- he has never harmed society in any way, he has in fact helped Mayella on numerous occasions as well as being a valued worker to Mr Link Deas. You could look at the stereotype of Tom- the use of animal imagery ("ruttin'" and I think he's compared to a "buck" or something somewhere by Mr Ewell) to show how society regards him as an animal, subhuman. You could look at how he is actually a humble, respectable Black (could use examples to support this such as when he doesn't want to repeat what Mr Ewell called Mayella). Hmm, not sure what else
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    For Tom Robinson, after talking about how he is presented as a good, honest man you could say how this makes the verdict of the trial shocking, and you can include context, reference the "usual disease" and how their prejudices makes them blind to the evidence that reveals Tom as innocent.

    I also have some points about reader effects/personal responses you can include, linking them to themes/writers techniqes particularly empathy...

    For some "good" characters you can mention how they are not perfect. For example, Scout fights, Jem destroys Mrs Dubose's flowers, Tom has been jailed before. This helps the reader to empathise with them and makes them more realistic. Empathy is also a theme of the book. This is a good thing to mention because it is to do with Lee's techniques and the effect on the reader.
    Also, Bob Ewell has no redeeming features for this very purpose, the reader does not empathise with him at all and again, makes the verdict of the trial shocking as he is such a dishonest, lazy man "fired from the WPA" (this was very rare at the time).

    Another thing you can say about empathy- Lee uses the children's descriptions of Boo to make the reader think he is a "malevolent phantom" or monster, but through the children growing up and gaining and moral education, she reveals that Boo is in fact simply a mockingbird or scapegoat and is a friendly man. This teaches the reader not to take things at face value and question their own prejudices.

    Overall the point Lee is trying to make about empathy is that ignorance and lack of empathy is the root of prejudice. Some characters lack empathy for different reasons e.g. youth, existing prejudices, what they have learnt (Francis uses the "n word", because Aunt Alexandra is racist).
    However the characters that learn to empathise (obviously scout and jem, even Aunt Alexandra is horrified when Tom is killed) give the reader hope that things can change.
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    (Original post by coco_madem0iselle)
    For Tom Robinson, after talking about how he is presented as a good, honest man you could say how this makes the verdict of the trial shocking, and you can include context, reference the "usual disease" and how their prejudices makes them blind to the evidence that reveals Tom as innocent.

    I also have some points about reader effects/personal responses you can include, linking them to themes/writers techniqes...

    For some "good" characters you can also mention how they are not perfect. For example, Scout fights, Jem destroys Mrs Dubose's flowers, Tom has been jailed before. This helps the reader to empathise with them and makes them more realistic. Empathy is also a theme of the book. This is a good thing to mention because it is to do with Lee's techniques and the effect on the reader.
    Also, Bob Ewell has no redeeming features for this very purpose, the reader does not empathise with him at all and again, makes the verdict of the trial shocking as he is such a dishonest, lazy man "fired from the WPA" (this was very rare at the time).

    Another thing you can say about empathy- Lee uses the children's descriptions of Boo to make the reader think he is a "malevolent phantom" or monster, but through the children growing up and gaining and moral education, she reveals that Boo is in fact simply a mockingbird or scapegoat and is a friendly man. This teaches the reader not to take things at face value and question their own prejudices.
    You could also mention how no one in maycomb is shocked at the verdict of the trial as at that time it would be unusual for a black man to be found innocent against a white man. It is "maycombs usual disease" and it seems "that only children cry" at the prejudice of the situation and how it's unfair


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Updated: May 20, 2012
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