In To Kill A Mockingbird, explain how Scout's descriptions of Calpurnia, Atticus, her dead mother and Boo Radley reflect her immaturity, sense of humor and perceptiveness.  Chapters-1-4

Expert Answers
durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout narrates the tragic story of Tom Robinson's trial and the hypocrisy in Maycomb County. Injustice and bigotry define many of the people in the town, despite the fact that Atticus presents Tom's case and proves his innocence. It has little bearing on the outcome. The story is seen from Scout's perspective and reflects her developing sense of right and wrong, fairness and justice. Many of Scout's descriptions reflect her sense of humor and this allows her to tell the story in an honest manner, exposing the cruelty and outrageous behavior of the residents but giving it a personal touch, highlighting the pompous and unacceptable conduct while still bringing the characters to life. 

In chapter one, Scout describes Calpurnia as having a "tyrannical presence" and showing a preference for Jem, Scout's brother. Having lost his wife, Atticus relies on Calpurnia and supports her, much to Scout's dismay as this means that Calpurnia always wins their "epic" battles. Scout is perceptive in noticing that Calpurnia has strong opinions about Mr. Radley, who she says is, "the meanest man ever God blew breath into." The fact that Calpurnia rarely comments on "the ways of white people" reveals Scout's recognition that in Maycomb County, race defines people differently. 

Scout describes her father as "satisfactory." Atticus is not a typical father; he is older than average and "related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town." This is both humorous and perceptive. 

In describing her mother, Scout points out that she does not remember her as Scout was only two years old when she died. Scout is matter-of-fact in her explanation but shows compassion and a perception beyond her years when she discusses the apparent effect of her mother's death on Jem, who is four years older than she. She says, "I knew better than to bother him."

In describing Boo Radley, Scout's first perceptions come from stories she has heard about "the Radley place," which, she says is "inhabited by an unknown entity the mere description of whom was enough to make us behave for days on end." She describes Boo as "a malevolent phantom." Scout shows her perception of the local people who clearly dislike and look down on the Radleys because their behavior is "alien" to most people, even before the incidents with Boo. As children, she, Jem and Dill are fascinated by the illusive Boo Radley and believe every word Miss Crawford tells them. 

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question