Please provide five literary devices in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

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rmhope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Some of the literary devices used by Harper Lee in To Kill a Mockingbird include perspective, foreshadowing, irony, symbolism, and dialect. 

Perspective refers to the point of view from which a story is told. The perspective Lee uses in this novel is unique and accounts for its strong literary voice. Readers experience the action of the story through the eyes of Scout when she is between six and eight years old. Even though Scout is the first-person narrator of the story, the adult Scout is actually telling the story, enabling the narrator to occasionally add in bits of information that the young Scout didn't quite understand or didn't find out until later. 

Foreshadowing predicts what will happen later in the book. One example Lee uses occurs at the end of chapter 27. When Aunt Alexandra makes excuses for not attending Scout's school pageant, she has a sense of foreboding. "Somebody just walked over my grave," she remarks. This sets up the danger that occurs in chapter 28 when Bob Ewell attacks Jem and Scout in the dark.

Irony occurs when the opposite of what is expected happens. One example of irony is the Maycomb missionary circle. The ladies seem very concerned about the black-skinned Mruna natives living in the African jungles, yet they want nothing to do with the black residents of Maycomb County. As Mrs. Merriweather says, "Down here we just say you live your way and we'll live ours."

Symbolism refers to objects or events in a story that represent other ideas or events. The mad dog that Atticus shoots is a symbol of the madness in the town. For example, Atticus faces a lynch mob at the jail when he sits outside the building protecting Tom Robinson. Atticus tells his children that there's something about race relations that turns their white neighbors into crazy, unthinking brutes. Just as Atticus bravely faces down the mad dog and kills it, so too does he stand up to the mob and, with Scout's help, neutralizes it. 

Finally, Lee uses the Southern dialect to add characterization to her novel. The children and most of the characters speak with improper grammar in the Southern style. Atticus, Alexandra, and Jack speak with proper grammar, showing their "gentle breeding." By writing the dialogue in dialect, Lee makes the Alabama setting come alive for readers.

Lee uses these literary devices and others masterfully to create her riveting tale.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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