What does Mr. Avery say makes the seasons change?

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laurniko eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Mr. Avery says that the change of the seasons is caused by the bad behavior of children. He cites the Rosetta Stone as his source.

When winter comes to Maycomb, it's particularly harsh. Scout notes that the town experienced "two weeks of the coldest weather since 1885." She goes on to say that Mrs. Radley died that winter; Scout and Jem thought that she was killed by Boo Radley, but Atticus explains that Mrs. Radley died of natural causes.

Mr. Avery is a person who lives near Scout and her family; he boards with Mrs. Dubose. Lee writes:

Mr. Avery said it was written on the Rosetta Stone that when children disobeyed their parents, smoked cigarettes and made war on each other, the seasons would change: Jem and I were burdened with the guilt of contributing to the aberrations of nature, thereby causing unhappiness to our neighbors and discomfort to ourselves.

Even though his explanation is not logical or true, they believe Mr. Avery enough that the prospect of being responsible for the frigid winter upsets both Scout and Jem. When Jem and Scout are out in the snow, they're stopped by Mr. Avery. Lee writes,

"See what you’ve done?" he said. "Hasn’t snowed in Maycomb since Appomattox. It’s bad children like you makes the seasons change."

I wondered if Mr. Avery knew how hopefully we had watched last summer for him to repeat his performance, and reflected that if this was our reward, there was something to say for sin. I did not wonder where Mr. Avery gathered his meteorological statistics: they came straight from the Rosetta Stone.

The Rosetta Stone that Mr. Avery cites is a stone that was carved with three different scripts in two languages, according to the British Museum. It was "written by a group of priests in Egypt to honour the Egyptian pharaoh." It was carved in 196 BC and discovered in 1799 in Egypt. 

The real Rosetta Stone does not include a section that says bad children cause the seasons to change.

tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 8 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Maycomb experiences its coldest winter since 1885. Scout and Jem are fortunate to experience snow for the first time because Alabama usually has mild winters. Scout thinks the end of the world is coming when she wakes up to see snow falling. When she catches her first snowflake on her tongue, she tells Jem that it burns her because she doesn't know how the cold can also burn. The kids have a great time making a snowman as well. As Scout reflects on the cold and eventful winter, she remembers that Mr. Avery told the kids that the Rosetta Stone says that seasons change when children disobey their parents. As a result, Scout feels the following:

"Jem and I were burdened with the guilt of contributing to the aberrations of nature, thereby causing unhappiness to our neighbors and discomfort to ourselves" (63).

Scout and Jem prove themselves to be a little superstitious by accepting Mr. Avery's reasons for the cold weather. Later, though, Scout is happy to have had the opportunity to experience snow even if it did cause her neighbors some discomfort.

troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In chapter 8 it says that according to Mr. Avery, it was "written in the Rosetta Stone that when children disobeyed their parents, smoked cigarettes and made war on each other, the seasons would change."  That was his way of blaming the "uncontrollable" aspects of life on kids.  This tells the reader that Mr. Avery was a cranky, old, cynical man.  His character is supported throughout the novel with similar situations.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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