Is text bigger than story or is a story bigger than a text? Is text bigger than story or is a story bigger than a text? 

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Harper Lee's novel has been aggrandized for a number of reasons, among which the most salient is the fact that the narrative was written in the 1960s by an author from the Deep South, especially Alabama, where so much controversy arouse in the Civil Rights Movement and where stereotyping by the North about the "racist South" certainly was prevalent. Further attention came since Atticus Finch radically breaks another stereotype, that of the Southern lawyer.  Not unlike Harriet Beecher Stowe's fictional narrative Uncle Tom's Cabin, To Kill a Mockingbird has gleaned much notice as a political work as well as a literary one.

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carol-davis | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The most important aspect of the novel is that the lessons that are emphasized become larger than the actual text.  In my teaching, the lesson that stands out to me and also my students has been the "Walk in my shoes" lesson.  It certainly speaks to problems of race, sexual orientation, disabilities, etc.  People judge others on what is seen on the outside, rather than looking deeper into the hearts and minds of those that are different.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a timeless novel.  The story of the innocent children and the brief period of their lives brings to the forefront so many important lessons for our teenagers to absorb into their world.

shake99's profile pic

shake99 | Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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On the other hand, there have been other books that tried to tell a similar story but cannot match what Harper Lee did in TKAM. Her "text" rises above the typical story of racist hatred and growing up. Her particular way of communicating the story makes TKAM so memorable.

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wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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I would agree that this story is often seen as bigger than the text.  When a text is well written and centered around a controversial ideal, the story often takes on a life of its own.  The story then becomes more than the text and more than the initial written word.  This is especially the case when the story is retold through other media such as film.  The story takes on the role of promoting the idea rather than simply expressing a plot. 

litlady33's profile pic

litlady33 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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What an interesting question. I would agree with the above posts that story is bigger than text. The text is exactly what is written on the page, and nothing more. But there is always so much more to it. There is so much that is being said that is not explicitly written on paper. With TKAM, the history and culture of the time has to be considered while reading the text. In addition, you have the own reader's backgrounds and experiences that can be brought into the story and thus change the story based on the individual. That is what is so great about books. It's more than what is on the paper and it's going to be a different experience for every reader who encounters it.

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lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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There are so many themes and ideas that resonate with readers on a larger scale than just the plot of the novel, so I would agree that the story is bigger than the text. When I think of honor, truth, courage, or justice I immediately think of this iconic novel and the many lessons that I continue to learn from Atticus, Scout, Jem and everyone else.

e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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I agree with litteacher9. The story is larger than the text because it has a meaning that resonates beyond the confines of the novel. We migth also say that this is true because the "story" of To Kill a Mockingbird deals with issues that are larger than individuals, which influence and even govern the thinking of masses of people. In this way, the story is bigger than its characters and its plot.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The story in To Kill a Mockingbird has taken on a life of its own, so in this case I think the story is bigger than the text.  The story is well-known, not just because it is a movie but because it is a beloved American treasure.  Although the beautiful language is part of the reason for the book’s success, many people know the story from the movie without having read the book.  The story itself is the important thing to them.  Atticus is also famous in his own right as a perfect example of a lawyer, so the book has even moved beyond literature in importance!

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