Is the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, written from Scout's memory  of the past or present ?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

    The entire story of the Harper Lee novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is narrated by Scout from a perspective of past experiences. We discover this in the opening sentences of Chapter 1, when she recounts Jem's "arm badly broken at the elbow," a reference to his terrible beating at the hands of Bob Ewell on that fateful Halloween night. We do know that Jem has recovered, that his left arm is now shorter than his right, and that it doesn't matter "so long as he could pass and punt." Although it is not stated exactly how much time has passed, Scout hints that it is several, if not many, years.

    When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident... We were far too old to settle an argument with a fist-fight, so we consulted Atticus.

It is fairly obvious in most of the resulting chapters that Scout is reminiscing about her past experiences, but we never know if she is still a child or an adult, since many of her stories are told from an innocent, child-like point of view. Only in Chapter 1 is it clear that a number of years have passed. Harper Lee was in her early 30s when To Kill a Mockingbird was completed, so it could be argued that Scout--who is no doubt based on the author--had reached a similar age.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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