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Explore how Harper Lee creates tension In the book

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Explore how Harper Lee creates tension In the book "To Kill A Mocking Bird", Harper Lee creates tension in many different ways. You can especially recognise this build up of tension in Chapter twenty-eight onwards (pages 280-282 and 285-290). Harper Lee has also created tension in Chapter six (page 55), when Jem gets his trousers caught in the fence of the Radley place and in Chapter fifteen (page 166) where the incident by the jail with Atticus, Tom Robinson and the gentlemen takes place. ................................ The first example of when Harper Lee creates tension would be in Chapter six (page 55). In this chapter we see how the build up of tension keeps the reader 'on edge' and wondering if Jem will get caught. Of course this will keep the reader reading on to find out what really happens. Therefore, Harper Lee uses short sentences to create the feeling of pace and uses description i.e. of the weather: "a gigantic moon was rising", the Radley house: "the back of the Radley house was less inviting than the front" and the shadow: "it was the shadow of a man with a hat on" to make the book more real to the reader so therefore they will feel more immersed into it. To achieve this, she uses words such as "darkness", "gigantic moon" to describe the weather, which gives you the feeling that it would be very dark (and bad things always happen when it is dark). ...read more.


This now slightly relieved the tension a little, however, I still had the sensation that the now 'lower standard' of people, probably had a 'lower standard' of morals and so therefore, more capable of physically (or mentally) hurting Atticus, Tom Robinson and/or the children. This theory of mine was later confirmed when one of the men spoke up threateningly: "you got fifteen seconds to get 'em outa here" (and when he "grabbed Jem roughly by the collar")- at this point the reader may be thinking 'or what?' questioning if the man could do something bad to the children. This build up of tension, however, is soon broken down by Scout's innocence, when the men were driven away. ................................ The third and final example is found in Chapter twenty-eight (pages 280-282 and 285-290). Harper Lee begins by describing the weather in short sentences, creating the aura of pace/excitement: "there was no moon" justifies this and also gives the reader the impression that the night is very dark- therefore, Jem and Scout cannot see anything and so this anticipates fear and danger. She also describes the weather as being "unusually warm" which gives the reader the impression that something dangerous or unusual might happen. Soon Harper Lee introduces the feeling of fear and tension by mentioning streetlights: "The street lights on the corner cast sharp shadows on the Radley house". ...read more.


After this the reader is almost certain that something bad is going to happen, because Harper Lee soon goes on to describe the actual incident. She starts this by suddenly creating tension by Jem being cautious: "hush a minute Scout". This tension builds up more through the text, and the reader can especially be aware of the pace, fear, excitement and suspicion when Scout describes her feelings, creating imagery. Scout mentions that "the night was still," and that she could hear "his breath coming easily beside me" (Jem). Harper Lee also uses adjectives such as "sudden", "bare" (-creating a sense of vulnerability), "windy" and also a very prominent sentence: "this was the stillness before the thunderstorm"- this especially gives the reader the aura of tension and fear for the word "stillness" gives the feeling of solemness and also the word "thunderstorm" always refers ones mind to horror books, for thunderstorms are associated with scary, bad things. ................................ Harper Lee continues to build up tension, throughout these past three examples and also right to the very incident of the last example. However, she occasionally tends to break up this tension by humour so as to 'play with your mind'. This is probably because she wants to relax the tension a little, so when the real 'scary' event occurs, the reader will not be 'prepared' for it and so therefore this will make the reader even more fearful and excited when he/she comes to read about the event. Michelle Kirk 18/12/2001 MICHELLE KIRK YEAR 10 ENGLISH ESSAY ...read more.

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