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Each person will likely have his or her own favorite paragraph from this story. The language is so beautifully constructed, that it is hard to choose on paragraph that is exceptionally well-written. However, the first one is a good choice. First of all, it uses foreshadowing to create suspense. Second of all, it characterizes both Jem and Scout. Finally, it helps establish the narrator.
The first paragraph is an excellent example of Lee’s writing because it does so much in such a small space. The first sentence foreshadows the ending, which will bring the book full circle.
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. (ch 1)
This sentence not only foreshadows the ending, it also creates suspense. We know that Jem’s arm was badly broken, but we don’t know how. The paragraph goes on to speculate, further drawing us in.
This paragraph also tells us quite a bit about Scout and Jem, characterizing them well before the story even begins.
When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. (ch 1)
We know that Jem is not self-centered or self-conscious, and that he is tough and goal-oriented. As long as he can play football, the bad break and the events that led to it are no big deal. We also know that Scout is going to focus more on others than herself, because she begins the story talking about Jem.
Finally, since the story begins by describing Jem as fourteen, we know that both children are adults and an adult narrator, not Jem, is telling the story. An adult will have a different perspective on things than a child would.
Now what other great paragraphs can you find!
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