Identify the conventions used in To Kill the Mockingbird to position the reader in relating to a controversy.
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Using the controlled perspective of Scout, a child during the action the novel, Harper Lee is able to narrate the events of the trial through a perspective that can claim innocence (and perhaps truth).
This is the most significant method of situating the reader in regards to the controversy of equal justice portrayed in the novel.
Certainly, the use of dialect to indicate the socio-economic class does alert the reader that there may be a clash between social levels. Also, when certain people break with the conventional behavior expected of them, there is cause for the reader to expect controversy. For instance, Mr. Raymond Dolphus's living in the black community and his riding with a bottle in a brown paper bag serve to alert the citizenry.
Lee does a masterful job in creating mystery and trepidation surrounding the character of Boo Radley. We can only know what Scout as a young narrator reveals to us. We are positioned to be suspicious and fearful of him, just as the children are. But as the novel progresses, she gives us subtle clues as to the gentleness of Boo. Who else could have put the blanket around Scout on the night of Miss Maudie's house fire? When we get the surprise reveal at the end of the novel that Boo is the man who saved the children and killed Bob Ewell in the process, we really aren't that surprised. Like Scout, we get to look back over the events of the novel and see the hints that Boo was a kind, but misunderstood man whom the children will never see in the same way again, just like the reader.
Harper Lee uses the dialect of the region. She uses the word nigger throughout the story. Using the word nigger in the dialogue was as common as saying hello. This shows the evident racism thoughout Maycomb. Also, the black people in the story use their own dailect. Calpurnia spoke a different dialect with her church folks than she did with Atticus and his family and friends.
Also, Lee uses the word trash to refer to people like the Ewells. There was a definite distinction between white people who were trash and respectful white folks. This caused controversy in the story.
No doubt, Harper Lee created a story that reflected the racism and sheer ignorance in the common dialect. Aunty Alexandra truly feels bad for that nigger Tom Robinson, but in reality, she feels bad because her brother lost the trial and had worked so hard. She is determined that Scout will not hang out with the white trash. Aunty Alexandra also feels that Scout has no business attending a black church or a nigger church as some would label it. Clearly, Harper Lee reveals the controversy and outright racism in her choice of conventions.
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