In To Kill A Mockingbird, what techiques are used to establish a feeling of mystery in the first chapter?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The sense of mystery in the first chapter is created with the depiction of the strange old Radley place from a child's fearful point of view. Although Scout is recalling her childish fears from an adult perspective, she conveys the full sense of fear and wonder which the Radley house and its inhabitants evoked for her, Jem, and Dill as children.

Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed, but Jem and I
had never seen him. People said he went out at night when the moon was down, and
peeped in windows.

Thus she remembers the scraps of rumour and legend that used to float around concerning the Radleys, and at this stage offers no natural explanation; Boo is introduced as a 'malevolent phantom' rather than as the ordinary, if reclusive, human being that he really was. This technique lets the reader share the sense of mystery that so intrigued Scout and her playmates in those days. She goes on to recall how the legend provided endless material for their chiidish imaginings and little dramas which they would act out with gusto.


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