How does Harper Lee relate Scout to readers in To Kill a Mockingbird?Please use evidence such as literary devices and techniques to support the answer.

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Harper Lee made a wise choice to use Scout as the narrative voice of her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Although the story is told in retrospect, from the much older, wiser adult Scout, the author varies the voice between her childlike innocence (present day tone) and her adult reminiscences. Her inexperienced narration works perfectly with several of the main themes--innocence, racial prejudice--since the young Scout does not fully comprehend many of the things she sees and hears. For example, Scout tells her Uncle Jack "that I ain't very sure what it means" when her cousin, Francis, calls Atticus a "nigger-lover," but she knows she doesn't like the sound of it. Scout even uses the "N" word herself until Atticus politely tells her it is "common." To Scout, it is just another word that she has heard from others, including Calpurnia. There are several good examples of Scout's inadvertent humor in her youthful narration, particularly about things which she doesn't quite understand. Examples include: 

  • Her story of Mr. Avery's "arc of water... splashing in a yellow circle of the street light some ten feet from source to earth."
  • Her wonderment about strip poker
  • Asking Uncle Jack " 'What's a whore-lady.' "
Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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