What are some allusions in Chapters 1-15 in To Kill a Mockingbird? Please explain the use of the allusions and the insight the reader gains from the author's use of allusions.  (I already have...

What are some allusions in Chapters 1-15 in To Kill a Mockingbird? Please explain the use of the allusions and the insight the reader gains from the author's use of allusions. 

(I already have some allusions such as Dewey Decimal System, Rosetta Stone, Appmattox, and Battle of Hastings.)



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bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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  • "If General Jackson hadn't run the Creeks up the river..." refers to the Removal Act of 1830 and Andrew Jackson's conflict with the Creek Indians in Alabama in the first decade of the 19th century.


  • Confederate General John Bell Hood's long beard is mentioned, as is General T. J "Stonewall" Jackson and the Missouri Compromise. Many Civil War veterans were still living in the early 1930s, so it was an event that had not yet been forgotten.


  • A picture of Alabama native Dixie Howell, a famed college football player, is mentioned. It is obvious that both Jem and Scout are interested in football.


  • New Orleans' Mardi Gras is referenced.


  • Bits of Alabama history are referenced indirectly at times, including the Creek Indian Nation, Governor W. W. Bibb, and the Civil War and Reconstruction.


  • The Ku Klux Klan and the Chevrolet automobile are both mentioned. The mention of the KKK is hinted at in other parts of the TKAM, though not always explicitly stated, making this sometimes an allusion.
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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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An allusion is defined as the following:

...a figure of speech whereby the author refers to a subject matter such as a place, event, or literary work by way of a passing reference. It is up to the reader to make a connection to the subject being mentioned. [literary-devices.com]

In addition to those mentioned in the previous post, here are some allusions contained in To Kill a Mockingbird:

  • In Chapter 1 Scout introduces Maycomb, Alabama, to her readers, describing it as a sleepy Southern town that has its economic struggles during the Great Depression of the 1930s:

There was no hurry...nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people: Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself. 
[The words in bold are an allusion to the famous words of encouragement from President Franklin D. Roosevelt on Inauguration Day, 1933]

  • In Chapter 8 after Miss Maudie's house burns down, Scout asks her how she feels and if she is "grievin." Miss Maudie tells her that she never liked her house much and actually thought about burning it herself. Then, she tells Scout not to worry because she will take in roomers for some income, and she will make hers the finest yard in the state, adding, "Those Bellingraths'll look pain puny when I get started."

Miss Maudie's allusion to the Bellingraths is in reference to the beautiful and expansive formal gardens of the Bellingrath estate in Mobile, Alabama. Many tourists come to these gardens, especially in the Spring when the resplendent azaleas are in bloom. So, Miss Maudie's allusion is clearly an exaggeration that is meant to cheer both herself and Scout.

These allusions from To Kill a Mockingbird serve well to heighten the color and originality of the text. They also serve to create a certain realism as they tie the narrative to historical ideas, Biblical ideas, and cultural ideas.


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