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Compare and Contrast The Two Novels, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'The Withered Arm' and Show How the Language Conveys a Sense of Time and Place.

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Kirsty Ellison 22nd May 2001 Havering Upminster Gaynes 12847 Candidate Number:- Compare and Contrast The Two Novels, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and 'The Withered Arm' and Show How the Language Conveys a Sense of Time and Place At first, the two texts, 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and 'The Withered Arm', didn't seem to have much in common, but after close study, the similarities became clearer. 'To Kill A Mockingbird' was written by Harper Lee and is set in 1930's Alabama. 'The Withered Arm' was written by Thomas Hardy and was set in 19th Century rural England. It was part of a book of short stories called 'The Wessex Tales.' The two stories both deal with the issue of prejudice. 'To Kill A Mockingbird' Tom Robinson suffers attacks of racism from the court when he is convicted of raping Mayella Ewell. The story is told through the eyes of a young girl, Scout, growing up in a small county called Maycomb. Their father, a lawyer, has the job of defending a black man, Tom Robinson, when he is charged with raping Mayella Ewell, a 19 year old white girl. To the reader it is obvious that Tom is innocent but, as Atticus says: "In our courts, when it's a white man's word against a black man's, the white man always wins." The story shows the racism in society at this period in history and by telling it through a child's perspective it shows just how wrong the attitude towards the black people was. The fact that Scout can see that their views were extremely prejudice and unfair shows how narrow minded and intolerant the white people were at that time. Also in 'To Kill A Mockingbird', we can see that people held prejudice views towards women. They were seen as inferior and people thought that they should stay at home and look after the family. ...read more.


Atticus himself owns a black slave, Calpurnia, but he treats her with respect and he expects his children to grow up with broad-minded views. The only other person to believe in Atticus' outlook is Dolphus Raymond. He too thinks that blacks are treated appallingly and he tells Jem and Scout: "Cry about the hell white people give coloured folks, without even stopping to think that they're people too." Tom Robinson was clearly not responsible for the rape of Mayella, but because it was a white's word against a black's, he is found guilty. This was very discriminating and an innocent man should not have been sentenced to death without more solid evidence. In 'The Withered Arm', the men are very sexist towards the women because in the 19th century, the men dominated over the women and they were believed to be superior. Both of the main women in this story are affected by sexism. Rhoda Brooks is made an outsider because she had an illegitimate child with Farmer Lodge but he was still one of the most respected men in the village. This shows that people believed that it was a sin for women to have children before marriage but it was reasonable for men to walk away from their own responsibilities. One of Rhoda's fellow milkmaids says: "He ha'n't spoken to Rhoda Brook for years." Gertrude was a beautiful, young woman when she married Farmer Lodge, and he likes to boast about her in the village, until her arm weakens and he appears to love her less. Gertrude tells Rhoda: "He was very proud of mine [beauty], at first." This shows how men in those days did not really love their wives but women were seen to be prizes given away to the wealthy men. This is extremely sexist because the women did not love their husbands' less as they got older because they believed highly in true love. ...read more.


Firstly, Rhoda is very jealous of Gertrude because she is married to the father of her child. She seeks revenge on Gertrude unintentionally through a dream, which appears to have come true. She did not deliberately cause harm to Gertrude but her wishes were made reality. Finally, Gertrude also gets her revenge when Rhoda's son is hanged for a crime he didn't commit. The language in both novels conveys a sense of time and place... In 'To Kill A Mockingbird', the syntax was very simple because it was supposedly written from a child's perspective and the sentences are short. This makes it easier for the reader to understand. For example, she says: "When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow." This is very simple English and is very easy to understand. However, sometimes Harper Lee uses complex language to let the reader know that it is a serious issue she is dealing with. "His sermon was a forthright denunciation of sin, an austere declaration of the motto on the wall behind him." The dialect in 'To Kill A Mockingbird' is very different to ours today. It varies from one character to another because at that time the different social groups also spoke differently to each other. The Finches speak modern American English because they are the wealthy white people. For example, when Scout talks to Arthur Radley, she is polite and speaks grammatically correct: "Won't you have a seat Mr Radley? The rocking-chair's nice and comfortable." Tom Robinson, the poor black man, talks in black speak, and he has his own lower class accent. Even so, he tries to speak appropriately in court by trying to speak more like the white people. This shows a sign of respect and politeness for the people of the jury. He tells Atticus: "Mr Finch, if you were a nigger like me, you'd be scared, too." Some of the characters in 'To Kill A Mockingbird' use some unusual vocabulary. ...read more.

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