At one point in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, a character named Mr. Avery associates changes in the weather with the behavior of children. The relevant passage reads as follows:
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. (New York: HarperCollins, 1993 [p. 103])
Scout’s comments about Mr. Avery are typical of the novel in several ways, including the following:
- The quotation reveals the importance of adult opinions in the lives of Scout, her brother, and their friends.
- The fact that Scout and Jem apparently believed Mr. Avery’s comments is an amusing example of their youthful credulity and even gullibility.
- Mr. Avery seems to be “pulling the legs” of Scout and Jem, thus contributing to the humorous tone of the novel.
- Mr. Avery’s comment helps contribute, in a very minor way, to the overall sense of mystery that Scout associates with many of her childhood memories.
- The fact that Scout seems to feel guilty about her contributions to the weather nicely implies her basic innocence and conscientiousness.