Appearances vs Reality: Boo, Tom, and Dolphus
I'm writing an essay about how these three characters are misinterpreted for who they really are. Any suggestions for my introduction would be greatly appreciated.
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Boo: This community in Maycomb believes Boo to be a malevolent phantom. If you read the description Jem gives of Boo in the middle of the first chapter, the portrait is painted of a guy who mutilates animals, stabs his parents with scissors, runs with the rebellious crowd, and is a peeping tom to all the ladies in the town. In reality, he is a guy who cares about the Finch children as if they were his own and shows it by showering them with gifts and saving them from death.
Tom: The town sees Tom as their stereotypical Negro perception of a man. That means he must be a cheater, a liar, and dangerous around white women. The truth is he is a God-fearing man with a compassionate way willing to help a struggling woman even though it means he risks the impression of not doing what he should be. He is a family man and a hard-worker.
Dolphus Raymond: This guy is the most easily understood example of the difference between perception and reality. In reality, he drinks Coca-cola out of a sack. However, he allows the community to believe he's a drunk. He perpetuates this perception because they are more comfortable with believing that than they are believing he could actually want a black woman.
Your Intro: I would recommend writing a hook about an item that doesn't always appear to be what it really is. Consider a mirage, or looking into a mirror at a funhouse. Then transition into your thesis by stating that often, the same is true of people. We don't necessarily see the truth on the outside, there is something much different on the inside. Make sure your thesis uses these character names, your topic, and the title of the work.
BOO RADLEY. Boo is believed to be a cat-killing, squirrel-eating ghoul who terrorizes the people (and animals) of Maycomb. We find--through his secret gifts to Jem and Scout, and his actions in defending the children against Bob Ewell--that this perception is totally untrue.
TOM ROBINSON. The accusations against Tom would appear to make him an uncontrollable brute, but his appearance in court changes all of that. The reader sees that he is soft-spoken, truthful, timid and crippled: characteristics that should show that he could have not committed the crime of which he is accused.
DOLPHUS RAYMOND. Mr. Raymond deliberately weaves around town with a paper bag wrapped around a bottle to give people the impression that he is drunk. Additionally, despite his apparent wealth and quality lineage, he chooses to live with an African-American mistress and associate primarily with Maycomb's Negroes; this gives him the appearance of mental instability to the white people in town. In truth, he is one of the clearest thinkers in Maycomb; he recognizes the racial hatred aimed at African-Americans by many of Maycomb's whites, and he sympathizes with the Negroes he has come to love.
You might want to try to integrate all three of these characgters into your opening paragraph by showing that looks and supposed actions can indeed be deceiving. All three certainly fit into the thesis that appearances do not always fit the realistic truth.
I am teaching TKM as a tie-in to a semester long theme of how/why we judge others. I would like students to realize how much we may miss out on in this world if we rush to judge others without giving them a chance. I go out of my way to not ask other teachers about my students so they come to me as a clean slate with no preconceived notions. They are usually shocked to hear this and it always has a positive effect.
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