What literary techniques are used in chapter 11 of To Kill a Mockingbird (pp. 132-149)?

Literary techniques used in chapter 11 of To Kill a Mockingbird include similes, metaphors, and imagery, which establish the mood of this chapter.

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This is the chapter where the children find themselves in conflict with Mrs. Dubose, and there are several literary devices employed to set the mood for this chapter.

As the children pass by, Mrs. Dubose hurls insults at them, and Jem and Scout successfully avoid getting too upset with her...

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This is the chapter where the children find themselves in conflict with Mrs. Dubose, and there are several literary devices employed to set the mood for this chapter.

As the children pass by, Mrs. Dubose hurls insults at them, and Jem and Scout successfully avoid getting too upset with her thanks to Atticus's encouragement and example. But one evening, Mrs. Dubose finds another means of attack, referring to Atticus as "a Finch [who is] in the courthouse lawing for niggers.” This stops Jem in his tracks, and a metaphor is utilized to describe the impact her words have had on Jem:

Mrs. Dubose’s shot had gone home and she knew it.

Her nasty words are compared to a shot, used with the intention of causing great harm. Her metaphorical shot creates the reaction she'd been trying to elicit in Jem, and he ends up destroying her flowers because of it.

Both a simile and imagery are used to describe the appearance of Mrs. Dubose as she lies in bed when Jem goes to read to her:

Her face was the color of a dirty pillowcase, and the corners of her mouth glistened with wet, which inched like a glacier down the deep grooves enclosing her chin.

Comparing her saliva to a glacier as it moves down her face is quite a vivid (and grotesque) image, and it contributes to the perception of Mrs. Dubose.

When Mrs. Dubose dies, Atticus employs a simile to describe her eventual freedom from morphine addiction, noting that she died as free "as the mountain air." Though he didn't know it at the time, Jem's evenings spent reading to Mrs. Dubose had provided a much-needed distraction as she struggled to leave the earth free from the addictions which had always plagued her.

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1. At the beginning of chapter 11, Scout provides a vivid description of her racist neighbor, Mrs. Dubose, and is amazed at how Atticus treats her with kindness each time he speaks to her. Atticus utilizes a simile when he tells Mrs. Dubose, "You look like a picture this evening" (Lee, 104).

2. As the chapter progresses, Scout explains that her brother had just turned twelve years old and utilizes an idiom, which is an expression or phrase that has a metaphorical meaning that is not to be interpreted literally, by saying,

"The day after Jem’s twelfth birthday his money was burning up his pockets, so we headed for town in the early afternoon" (Lee, 104).

The expression that "money is burning a hole in one's pocket" is a common idiom that describes someone who has just acquired money and is eager to spend it.

3. After Jem destroys Mrs. Dubose's camellia bush, he anxiously waits for his father to return home and discover how he will be punished. As Jem scowls in a hunched position on the rocking chair waiting for Atticus, Scout utilizes a hyperbole by saying, "Two geological ages later, we heard the soles of Atticus’s shoes scrape the front steps" (Lee, 106). A hyperbole is an exaggeration to emphasize something, which is exactly what Scout does when she describes waiting "Two geological ages" for Atticus to return home.

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Symbolism and foreshadowing are literary techniques used in Chapter 11.

Symbolism is a technique where one thing stands for something else.  Author’s use it to make a thematic statement.  In this chapter, Mrs. Dubose is a symbol, and so are her camellias. The chapter also uses foreshadowing, because the incident with Mrs. Dubose and Atticus’s explanation of her courage foreshadow trouble to come from the Finches.

Mrs. Dubose has previously been introduced as a mean old lady.  In this chapter Scout and Jem have their first significant encounter with her.  She is horrible to them when she attacks their father for his defense of Tom Robinson.

“Yes indeed, what has this world come to when a Finch goes against his raising?

I’ll tell you!” She put her hand to her mouth. When she drew it away, it trailed a long silver thread of saliva. “Your father’s no better than the niggers and trash he works for!” (Ch. 11)

Jem gets upset when he hears this, and loses it.  He has had enough of people insulting their father, and Mrs. Dubose’s racist comments send him over the edge.  He takes Scout’s baton and destroys her flowers.  She thinks that he has gone crazy.

Mrs. Dubose becomes a symbol of racism and intolerance.  This is why Jem attacks her flowers.  He can't really attack her, after all.  Atticus’s reaction is to send Jem and Scout to read to Mrs. Dubose every day until she tells them not to come anymore.  As time goes on, they read longer and longer.  One day, Atticus tells them she has died.  She was trying to wean herself off of a morphine addiction.  He explains that he wanted them to go there so they could learn the real meaning of courage.

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. (Ch. 11)

Mrs. Dubose winning the struggle is meaningful to Atticus, but also to the story.  The struggle and Atticus’s explanation of it foreshadow the problems that Atticus will have with the Tom Robinson trial.  He is telling his children that they will need courage, and he will too.  The courage Atticus will display at the trial is not the physical kind.  It is the moral kind, like Mrs. Dubose standing up to her addiction.

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