In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, how can one determine if a character is dynamic or static?

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A character is dynamic if he or she changes from one attitude or perspective to another throughout the story.  A static character, however, is one who remains constant in his or her attitude or way of thinking. Since To Kill a Mockingbird can be considered a bildungsroman--a coming-of-age story that...

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A character is dynamic if he or she changes from one attitude or perspective to another throughout the story.  A static character, however, is one who remains constant in his or her attitude or way of thinking. Since To Kill a Mockingbird can be considered a bildungsroman--a coming-of-age story that shows a transformation from innocence to experience--it would be a good idea to look for dynamic changes throughout the book in the younger characters. In order to find static characters, then, look at the adults since they are more likely to be the ones who are already set in their ways and unchanging. However, the two characters who make significant changes to their ways of thinking are Scout and Walter Cunningham, Sr. who also represents his whole clan. Examples of two characters who do not change, though, are Atticus and Mr. Ewell. The following are passages that help to demonstrate each character's dynamic or static qualities:

Scout - Scout starts out as a tomboy who will beat up anyone who insults her. Specifically, she physically threatens Walter Cunningham, Jr., Cecil Jacobs, and her cousin Francis. After all of the experiences of the novel that she goes through, as well as learning from the good role models in her life, Scout evolves into a well-mannered and caring young woman. 

"I carefully picked up the tray and watched myself walk to Mrs. Merriweather. With my best company  manners, I asked her if she would have some. After all, if Aunty could be a lady at a time like this, so could I" (237).

Mr. Cunningham - Walter, Sr. is a symbol for the whole Cunningham family, really, shows up with his extended family members to lynch Tom Robinson the night before the trial. Scout talks him down by talking about her friendship with his son; and luckily, the whole family backs down and leaves. This is a minor change in attitude and a significant start to a change in Walter's as well as the whole family's attitude. The major change comes when a Cunningham holds up the jury for discussion rather than quickly throwing a conviction at Tom Robinson. Atticus tells the kids about this significant change when he says the following: 

"That was the one thing that made me think, well, this may be the shadow of a beginning. That jury took a few hours. An inevitable verdict, maybe, but usually it takes 'em just a few minutes. . . You might like to know that there was one fellow who took considerable wearing down. . . He was one of your Old Sarum friends" (222).

Atticus - Atticus is the symbol of all that is right in the world. He is calm, peaceful, logical, and reasonable. He understands racism is a part of his community and history, but he stands his ground and isn't swayed by popular belief. He has no secrets and never changes throughout the story. Scout's description of her father best shows his stalwart strength:

"Atticus don't ever do anything to Jem and me in the house that he don't do in the yard" (46).

Mr. Ewell - This man is not only Mr. Finch's foil, but a symbol of all hatred and selfishness. He is beyond reason or logic and he is trapped in ignorance and prejudice. Even though he "wins" the trial against Tom Robinson, he doesn't humble himself and treat others better. He learns nothing and changes nothing. When Atticus is teaching the children about Mr. Ewell, he says,

"It's against the law, all right. . . and it's certainly bad, but when a man spends his relief checks on green whiskey his children have a way of crying from hunger pains. . . but he'll never change his ways" (31).

 

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