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What is an example of suspense created in part 1 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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lctanme | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted February 21, 2013 at 12:54 PM via web

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What is an example of suspense created in part 1 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 21, 2013 at 4:38 PM (Answer #2)

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An example of suspense from part one is the fire at Miss Maudie’s house.

Suspense is the creation of interest and excitement, where the reader wants to know what is going to happen.  The first part of the book comprises of chapters 1 to 11.

The fire in chapter eight is suspenseful because there is a danger, and also because we learn something new about an important character: Boo Radley.

At the front door, we saw fire spewing from Miss Maudie's diningroom windows. As if to confirm what we saw, the town fire siren wailed up the scale to a treble pitch and remained there, screaming. (ch 8)

The fire is suspenseful because Miss Maudie is in danger, and so is the whole neighborhood.  During the escapade, Scout realizes that there is a blanket on her shoulders.  She does not know what it means at first, but Jem does.

"You're right. We'd better keep this and the blanket to ourselves. Someday, maybe, Scout can thank him for covering her up."

"Thank who?" I asked.

"Boo Radley. You were so busy looking at the fire you didn't know it when he put the blanket around you." (ch 8)

Thus the suspense is created on two levels.  The fire is exciting.  However, we are also excited because we realize that Boo Radley has reached out to Scout and the Finches.  The blanket is a gesture of friendship and caring.

Thus suspense is important both for plot and character development.  The blanket incident at the fire is a thematic turning point.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted February 21, 2013 at 4:06 PM (Answer #1)

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In part one of To Kill a Mockingbird, suspense is often created surrounding the character Boo Radley.  We know little of this character other than the children's fears and the townsfolk's mistrust.  We are given hints of a devious nature but little proof or rational behind it.  This character creates a sense of suspense because we do not know how he will interact with the children.  We see several instances where  he interacts with the children and often behaves in an unpredictable manner.  Of course there are other events which create suspense during part one of the novel.  These events all play on the same technique of unknown information.  All we have are the suspicions and rumors around town without the factual information.  This creates drama and suspense.

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