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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Essay Question

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In what ways is Harper Lee able to describe an outrageous incident in a humorous way? Why does she do it? Harper Lee's style in 'Two Kill a Mockingbird,' is such that she uses a variety of methods to convey certain emotions, reveal aspects of a character's personality, or to heighten or ease drama. A recurring technique that Harper Lee uses to create humour is that of perspective, childhood unawareness and the assumptions that Scout and the people surrounding her so casually make. As the entire novel is written from the eyes of a very young girl, her biased, stunted opinions, limited experience and juvenile convictions cause a great deal of amusement. An instance of this (in the second chapter) ...read more.


This scene, which would be shocking by today's standards as it gives on insight into the weaknesses of the education system (as told from the author's view point). However, Harper Lee makes the scene amusing by using the device of understatement. She states the events in a light casual manner and emphasizes it with a lack of emphasis. The sheer absurdity of a teacher telling a child not to read coupled with the way it is narrated combines to create humour. Miss Caroline's lack of experience is further used for amusement when she calls on Walter Cunningham to take her loan. Walter Cunningham's character is a proud one. Although he is relatively poor, he still has a sense of self-dignity. So even though the offer is tempting when he is offered a quarter by Miss Caroline to buy lunch, he politely refuses. ...read more.


Furthermore, she uses humour to not only subtly mock the school system but also the firmly enshrined beliefs of those times. This is almost solely through the blunders of Miss Caroline. Harper Lee also uses it to show a character's mindset or personality. Such is the case with Scout who automatically presumes Miss Caroline knows of the Cunninghams' ways or with Miss Cunningham assuming that every child should not be able to read or write. In summation, Harper Lee's means of creating humour are wide ranging though she relies on the fact that Scout is a six-year old girl with a narrow outlook. As for her reasons, though humour is obviously used to create just that; humour. It is also used as an instrument to control the flow of the book and to make more obvious or disguise its various nuances. ...read more.

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