To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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What does the political cartoon about Atticus in chapter 12 mean?

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tinicraw eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Political cartoons such as the one about Atticus in the Montgomery Advertiser are perfect examples of satire. Satire uses humor or wit to expose, denounce, or show the irony of a situation. One interpretation of the cartoon is that Atticus is a diligent schoolboy; but another might be an allusion to slavery. The irony would be that as Atticus prepares to defend a black man, he's working like a slave to do it. Yes, schoolboys at that time wore short pants, but the cartoon also shows Atticus without shoes. The absence of shoes, plus short pants and the chain can suggest to the mind an image of slavery. The part with "frivolous-looking girls" yelling "Yoo-hoo!" certainly does suggest that Atticus is missing out on life (116).

Jem's interpretation is the best, though, when he says the following:

"That's a compliment. . . He spends his time doin' things that wouldn't get done if nobody did 'em" (116).

Atticus is fortunate to have such good kids who stand by him no matter what. This is definitely a difficult time for Atticus, but if anyone can handle it, he can.

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Brayan Effertz eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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This cartoon appears in the paper of the state capital, Montgomery, when Atticus is away for two weeks dealing with matters of 'emergency legislature'. It is the time of the Depression and there are mounting social and economic problems that Atticus has to help the state legislature deal with. Scout observes that 'these events were remote from the world of Jem and me.'

Atticus, then, has important work to do outside of his native town of...

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Jamie Wheeler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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