In Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird, exactly where and exactly how does Mr. Avery associate the behavior of children with changes in the weather?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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At one point in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, a character named Mr. Avery associates changes in the weather with the behavior of children.  The relevant passage reads as follows:

Mr. Avery said it was written on the Rosetta Stone that when children disobeyed their parents, smoked cigarettes, and made war on each other, the seasons would change: Jem and I were burdened with the guilt of contributing to the aberrations of nature, thereby causing unhappiness to our neighbors and discomfort to ourselves. (New York: HarperCollins, 1993 [p. 103])

Scout’s comments about Mr. Avery are typical of the novel in several ways, including the following:

  • The quotation reveals the importance of adult opinions in the lives of Scout, her brother,  and their friends.
  • The fact that Scout and Jem apparently believed Mr. Avery’s comments is an amusing example of their youthful credulity and even gullibility.
  • Mr. Avery seems to be “pulling the legs” of Scout and Jem, thus contributing to the humorous tone of the novel.
  • Mr. Avery’s comment helps contribute, in a very minor way, to the overall sense of mystery that Scout associates with many of her childhood memories.
  • The fact that Scout seems to feel guilty about her contributions to the weather nicely implies her basic innocence and conscientiousness.



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