One more post, and TKAM will be out of my hair. Hurrah!
This was supposed to be done before my “final” post, so this will concern some points from earlier in the book. As I was reading along, I could feel the exponential plot-action graph starting to slowly go up. I kept ambling along through the chapters, knowing (and hoping) it would get better towards the climax. It did, but it still took too long in my opinion.
I was following Scout’s development. I changed my two focus questions from shallow things regarding Dill and Boo into something actually relevant – What caused Scout to act so much like a boy? I unearthed this question when I read a line from when Scout and Jem visit Calpurnia’s church. They hear a lecture, and Scout thinks, “Again… I was confronted with the Impurity of Women Doctrine”. It was such an offhanded comment by Harper Lee, but I think it’s really important regarding my question. If Scout was repeatedly brainwashed, as she alludes to, with the idea that women are impure, she would believe it. And why would she aspire to be something that seems to be looked down upon in society? It seems much easier to just be boyish.
I also made an interesting note further down that same chapter. Scout asks Calpurnia why she dumbs down her language when she’s around her peers, when Scout knows she’s smarter and has better language than that. Calpurnia says, “It’s not necessary to tell all you know. It’s not ladylike.” I think this scene connected back to earlier in the book, when Scout was showing off her literacy in school and got in trouble with her teacher. Scout didn’t understand why she was being scolded, and it made her angry. She knew how to read. Why should she keep that a secret? But we see now that the teacher was trying to make her act more like a lady. This development brought up my second revised question – What is “ladylike”? What defines what a lady does? I have a vague answer, now that I’ve read the whole book – I think ladies in this society are meant to keep secrets. Aunt Alexandra puts on a facade when she goes back into the party, even though she knows Tom died. Calpurnia makes herself sound less educated around her fellow churchgoers. And from there, we see glimpses into their secret lives.
Oh, the secret lives we live…