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Parallel structuresI was struck by  leagye's reminder of Dill just appearing in the...

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 25, 2007 at 4:17 PM via web

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Parallel structures

I was struck by  leagye's reminder of Dill just appearing in the garden, and wanted to play with ideas of parallel structure in the novel. To be more specific, I've started to think of this book as more like a fairy tale than I used to, or rather, a fairy tale with some mythic elements. Scout and Jem lack a mother, like many of the children in fairy tales, and are in some ways threatened by possibilities of other forms of mothering. Boo is like a monster in a cave, or some mystery, until he is transformed in the end. The Ewells, on the other hand, seem like monsters masquerading as humans. Scout is most threatened when transformed into a food item (made not human), but also when walking alone in the dark, a la Little Red Riding Hood. I could add other links, but before I do, does this seem useful to help our understanding of the novel?


Thanks.

Greg

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dbello | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted November 30, 2008 at 8:47 PM (Answer #2)

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Parallel structures

I was struck by  leagye's reminder of Dill just appearing in the garden, and wanted to play with ideas of parallel structure in the novel. To be more specific, I've started to think of this book as more like a fairy tale than I used to, or rather, a fairy tale with some mythic elements. Scout and Jem lack a mother, like many of the children in fairy tales, and are in some ways threatened by possibilities of other forms of mothering. Boo is like a monster in a cave, or some mystery, until he is transformed in the end. The Ewells, on the other hand, seem like monsters masquerading as humans. Scout is most threatened when transformed into a food item (made not human), but also when walking alone in the dark, a la Little Red Riding Hood. I could add other links, but before I do, does this seem useful to help our understanding of the novel?


Thanks.

Greg

It absolutely helps our understanding. Perhaps several hundred years ago the story would be called a fairy tale, today it's called a novel. We must remember if the writer is not writing 'history' he/she is writing a story, however no writer can completely de-void themselves from their experience. Even in the depths of storytelling most historians can find relevance to the backdrop of the history from which the story (novel) was born. What is the old saying???? many a truth have been spoken in jest'  Not to say the material of a given story is funny, but if not written as history the writer can 'create' ( as meant in the term jest) a story, as you argue a fairy tale making analogies to the history of the human experience.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 26, 2010 at 5:04 AM (Answer #3)

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I think Harper Lee picks up on a series of archetypes that are widely used in story telling which she uses in her plot. Fairy tales in a sense represent the best of those kind of archetypes - the ones that work - because after all we are still telling those fairy tales years on. An interesting way to develop this discussion would be to consider how the plot of this story relates to both the fairy tale world and reality. Clearly Lee at no point wants us to dismiss her tale as a kind of fairy tale.

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

Posted August 28, 2011 at 11:48 AM (Answer #5)

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I never really thought of the book specifically in these terms, but I have always noticed the mythical and archetypal elements. Yet the novel also defies conventional type. It's a coming of age novel, and yet it isn't at the same time. It has various elements intertwined.

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