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Fear of the Unknown in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
Transcript of Fear of the Unknown in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee uses fear of the unknown to show how people become narrow minded and ignorant to their surroundings, how people are afraid because they believe something will happen but are ignorant to the true nature. They believe they know the outcome thus they make themselves become blind and oblivious to the truth. Furthermore, it drives people to act in a manner that is foreign to the way they usually are and this causes them to act irrationally causing them to put away their morals.
Idea One: Arthur Radley, rumors spread about him, rumors about his family, the game etc.
~"Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I had never seen him." Page 10
~"People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and peeped in windows." Page 10
~"When people's azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them." Page 10
~"Any stealthy small crimes committed in Maycomb were his work." Page 10
~"People still looked at the Radley's place, unwilling to discard their initial suspicions." Page 10-11
~"Radley pecans would kill you." Page 11
~"Boo drove the scissors into his [father's] leg." Page 13
~"received most of [our] information from Miss Stephanie Crawford, a neighborhood scold who said she knew the whole thing." Page 13
~"Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks, he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that's why his hands were blood stained." Page 16
-"There was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotter; his eyes popped; and he drooled most of the time." Page 16
~"I know what we are going to play ... Boo Radley." Page 51
~"Jem, naturally, was Boo: he went under the front steps and shrieked and howled from time to time." Page 52
~"As the summer progressed, so did our game. We polished and perfected it, added dialogue and plot until we had manufactured a small play upon which we ran changes everyday." Page 52
The kids only hear about Arthur through rumors that others in Maycomb, mostly Miss Stephanie Crawford tell them, they judge unfairly and do not have proof of what others are telling them. They are drawing conclusions, thus being ignorant to the true nature. They believe everything they hear and in their minds, they make it reality. Even though, they are not taught to act this way. Calpurnia and Atticus make sure that they have morals, and treat others the way they want to be treated.
Idea Two: Growing Up, Scout not wanting to become a lady, adult responsibilities, Jem going thorugh puberty etc.
~"Catching Walter Cunningham in the schoolyard game me some pleasure, but when I was rubbing his nose in the dirt Jem came by and told me to stop." Page 30
~"I was not so sure, but Jem told me I was being a girl, that girls always imagined things, that's why other people hated them so, and if I started behaving like one I could just go off and find some to play with" Page 54
~"Scout, I’m tellin‘ you for the last time, shut your trap or go home—I declare to the Lord
you’re gettin’ more like a girl every day!” Page 69
~"This time, I split my knuckle to the bone on [Francis'] front teeth. My left impaired, I sailed in with my right, but not for long." Page 112
~"Jem was twelve. He was difficult to live with, inconsistent, moody." Page 154
~"Jem was growing. I must be patien with him and disturb him as little as possible." Page 154
~"She had put so much starch in my dress, it cam down like a tent when I sat down." Page 156
~"it would be many years before I would be interested in boys, I would never be interested in clothes... but I kept silent." Page 170
~"Atticus, it’s all right to be soft-hearted, you’re an easy man, but you have a daughter to think of. A daughter who’s growing up." Page 187
Scout believes from an early age that girl things are bad and boy things are good, and that she can avoid the badness of girls by not acting one. Therefore she tries not to be a girl instead she tries being a boy. Scout will do anything to keep from being called a girl. She affiliates growing up with becoming more lady like. She is drawing conclusion from what she thinks will happen because she thinks she knows the outcome when she really doesn't. This makes her ignorant to her surroundings. She does not want to become an adult because she does not want the responsibilities that come with it.
Idea Three: Segregation of the Black Vs. the Whites, different living conditions, different views on one another, where whites are allowed and blacks are not, the attitudes of the whites towards the blacks etc.
~"A Negro would not pass the Radley Place at night, he would cut across to the sidewalk opposite and whistle as he walked" Page 11
~"I guess it ain't your fault if Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover" Page 110
~"[Atticus is] nothin' but a niger-lover!" Page 110
~"[Calpurnia] ran to the front porch...“She’s supposed to go around in back,”" Page 124
~"First Purchase African M.E. Church was in the Quarters outside the southern town limits, across the old sawmill tracks. It was an ancient paint-peeled frame building, the only church in Maycomb with a steeple and bell, called First Purchase because it was paid for from the first earnings of freed slaves. Negroes worshiped in it on Sundays and white men gambled in it on weekdays." Page 157
~"When Calpurnia stayed overnight with us she slept on a folding cot in the kitchen" Page 156
~"In a far corner of the square, the Negroes sat quietly in the sun, dining on sardines, crackers, and the more vivid flavors of Nehi Cola. Mr. Dolphus Raymond sat with them." Page 214
~"They don’t belong anywhere. Colored folks won’t have ‘em because they’re half white; white folks won’t have ’em cause they’re colored, so they’re just in-betweens, don’t belong anywhere." Page 215
~"The Negroes, having waited for the white people to go upstairs, began to come in." Page 218
~"The Colored balcony ran along three walls of the courtroom like a second-story veranda" Page 219
~"The Negroes behind us whispered softly among themselves" Page 226
~"A dirt road ran from the highway past the dump, down to a small Negro settlement some five hundred yards beyond the Ewells" 228-229
~The kids are welcomed to the church with open arms (no specific quote)
The black and the white people of Maycomb fear one another. They live in separate living quarters, the whites in the northern parts of town, closer to amenities while the blacks live near the town dump, the dirty parts of town. The black people are afraid to live with the white people and the white people are afraid to live with the black people. This fear creates hatred between one another, the general relationship between black and white people only gets worse and worse. If they just gave each other a chance, it would all be better. Both the blacks and the whites think that they know the outcome if they are separated and this makes them narrow minded. They think what they know (slavery, racism etc.) is how it will always be. Then they brainwash themselves into believing it to be the truth.
Idea Four: The Trial of Tom Robinson, the Ewells (Mayella and Bob) and the jury.
~" “Did you call a doctor, Sheriff? Did anybody call a doctor?” asked Atticus.
“No sir,” said Mr. Tate." Page 224
~"“You’re left-handed, Mr. Ewell,”" Page 237
~Atticus was trying to show, it seemed to me, that Mr. Ewell could have
beaten up Mayella. That much I could follow. If her right eye was blacked and she was
beaten mostly on the right side of the face, it would tend to show that a left-handed
person did it. Sherlock Holmes and Jem Finch would agree. But Tom Robinson could
easily be left-handed, too." Page 238
~"“Do you remember him beating you about the face?”
[Mayella] hesitated." Page 247
~"“[Tom Robinson] got it caught in a cotton gin, caught it in Mr. Dolphus Raymond’s cotton gin when he was a boy… like to bled to death… tore all the muscles loose from his bones—”" Page 249
~"“He blacked your left eye with his right fist?”
“I ducked and it—it glanced, that’s what it did. I ducked and it glanced off.”" Page 250
Everyone knows that Tom Robinson is innocent. Everyone knows that Bob Ewell is wrong. But, they cannot convict a white man over a black man. They are scared and will not put a black man above a white man. They know what they are doing is wrong and yet they still do it, all because of the fact that they are scared of what will happen if, for once, they let a black man be above a white man.