How can I find some poetry in Chapters 12 and 13 in To Kill a Mockingbird and write about it?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 12, Scout realizes that Dill was more than just a pretend fiance and a good friend. He made their summers much more exciting and interesting. Scout gives a poetic description of Dill and in the process illustrates a kind of ode to him and to summer: 

 . . . but summer was Dill by the fishpool smoking string, Dill’s eyes alive with complicated plans to make Boo Radley emerge; summer was the swiftness with which Dill would reach up and kiss me when Jem was not looking, the longings we sometimes felt each other feel. 

In this example, Scout uses a rhetorical technique called anaphora. This is when the poet/speaker repeats a phrase at the beginning of each line in order to emphasize the idea: "summer was." 

There are instances of poetic description as well. When Jem and Scout accompany Calpurnia to her church, Scout describes the singing, "Line for line, voices followed in simple harmony until the hymn ended in a melancholy murmur." Note the alliteration with "melancholy murmur." She and Jem couldn't believe the unity of the singing, especially considering the fact that the people did not have any hymn books to read from. 

At the end of Chapter 13, Atticus is annoyed with himself. He reluctantly tells Scout and Jem to recognize their family history and to try to live up to that social status. Annoyed with himself for telling them this, he takes it out on Scout when she makes a noise with Jem's comb. She cries and buries her head in his vest. Narrating, she gives a succession of descriptions that sounds as if they are separate lines in a poem: 

I buried my head in it and listened to the small internal noises that went on behind the light blue cloth: his watch ticking, the faint crackle of his starched shirt, the soft sound of his breathing. 

Scout notes the subtle details and these happen to illustrate some of Atticus's characteristics. The consistency of his watch ticking shows how Atticus is consistent with his behavior and what he teaches the children. (Showing that consistency, he will retract this lesson about Finch family history, telling them to forget it.) The "soft sound of his breathing" uses alliteration and symbolizes Atticus's calm, reasonable demeanor. 

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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