IB English - To Kill a Mockingbird (journal responses)

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Response #1: Chapters 1 to 5

As I began reading this book, I kept thinking of the background information that I had heard before reading this book. At first I was told that there was a lot of controversy on the theme of the book, as well as on the language. So when I first heard such language as “nigger” I was not very surprised. I started thinking that this language was for the use of the author to prove a point, most likely of the perspectives people had in the south at this time. I am sure that racism is a very important theme in the book.

        Furthermore when I started reading this book, I was somewhat confused. The main character of Jean Louise to me seemed like a boy. It was only till her brother, Jem, referred to him having a sister, did I understand. However I think my confusion is justified since Jem does speak to Jean Louise as “Scout” and is always saying, “You’re acting more like a girl everyday.” It is quite obvious that Jean Louise is a tomboy. I think her act of being a tomboy is reflective of her bringing-up. Her father, Atticus, has alone sheltered her and she does not have a mother for guidance.

        A character that I thought was quite interesting was Dill. He seemed like such a random, yet cute character. One day Jem and Scout just found him on a doorstep and initially, I thought he would be a somewhat annoying character that would act as a tag-along to Jem and Scout, but I was wrong. He actually brought entertainment to the novel. For instance when he dared Jem to go up to Boo Radley’s home and touch the wall of the house because he thought Jem was too scared.  

        The points in the book where Scout goes to school stood out to me. From the point of view of her teacher, Scout seemed like a rebelling sort of child, but I don’t think Scout was acting out on purpose. Like when Scout reacted to Walter Cunningham not having lunch and his somewhat poverty type status, Miss Caroline gave Scout about half a dozen pats with a ruler and sent her to the corridor. I started thinking that if this kind of discipline was still allowed, how quieter class would be, though I still do not approve of such acts especially towards such young children.

        I had not heard much about this novel before reading it; therefore, I had no clue how the story would begin, build, or end. The first chapter was confusing and I did not really see what the author, Ms. Lee, was trying to portray. As I continued on, I came across some profanity; however, it did not shock me in any particular way because the novel was written back in the 1940s and much has changed since then.

        From meeting Scout in the novel, I was reminded of my grade nine year spent at Killarney. Through the school year, I actually met a few tomboys and we became somewhat friends. I thought that they weren’t any different from other girls besides the fact that they dressed and acted in a more masculine way. They were just as friendly and easy-going as any other person I knew. I think that one reason girls want to be a tomboy is that they may feel stronger and more confident in themselves. As long as they are happy with being who they want to be, society should accept them like they accept all other boys and girls.

        I absolutely agree that being brought up without a mother contributed to Scout’s act of being a tomboy. It seemed as though the family was incomplete—there was only a father, but no mother. In other words, the family lacked the feminine side, which would supposedly balance the genders. Although not mentioned in this novel, there are various novels out there which emphasize the idea of incomplete families. In previous novels which I had read, the author s described how it was like to be a motherless child, to face the pressure from others, as well as from their inner self. Other children would poke fun at them. After reading these novels, I feel so fortunate…because I know that I live in such a wonderful world, such a warm family, and also have privileges that many other do not have. Honestly, I feel a great sense of appreciation and gratefulness.

        Nowadays, teachers in most countries are restricted from harming any student in any way, no matter how mild it may be. I feel that time has changed our ways. Generation after generation, there has been alterations in human conduct. In grade five, I attended a fieldtrip to the Burnaby Heritage Museum. It consisted of a historic school, several old houses, a restaurant completely made from wood, and so on. One of the students who came on the fieldtrip with us was quite rebellious. So while we entered the historic schoolhouse, there was a lady teacher, and since the rebellious student was continuous arguing with and disrespecting the teacher, she took out a ruler and whacked her palm a few times. Soon after, she ordered her to stand in a corner. Of course, if our community was still like that today, children would most likely be less rebellious due to strict ways of teaching.

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As a result, I think that our world would be more or less safer because exposing someone to strictness starting at a young age may help to prevent them from committing crimes in the future, such as stealing. I believe that it is always better to start off right the first time, so you won’t have to turn back after realizing your mistakes, having to start over again. After all, there aren’t many chances in life for us to start over. Unlike mistyping a word, there is no ‘backspace’ key in real life.

Response #2: Chapters 6 to ...

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