Which of the following characters should I choose to write an account about from To Kill a Mockingbird?I need to compose a first person narrative account of the trial of Tom Robinson from the...

Which of the following characters should I choose to write an account about from To Kill a Mockingbird?

I need to compose a first person narrative account of the trial of Tom Robinson from the perspective of one of the following:

Atticus, Jem, Calpurnia, Aunt Alexadra, Miss Maudie, Mrs. Dubose, Tom Robinson, Mayella Ewell, Bob Ewell, Dill, Heck Tate, and Boo Radley

I have to detail the accout with what this character must have been thinking, feeling, and doing before, during, and/or after the trial.

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jk180's profile pic

James Kelley | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted on

If this assignment were for me, I would choose Calpurnia. She's an interesting and important character, but it's amazing to me how little we know about her. We never get to see what her home life is like, for example, and don't even know if she's married or has kids or grandkids who live with her (we do know, of course, that she has at least one grown son). The most we know for certain is that she uses the word "we" in talking about her home life. This gap in awareness about such a central character is easily overlooked. I don't see the gap necessarily as a flaw in the novel, but I do see it as a flaw in the critical reading of this novel if the gap is not examined more closely or at least acknowledged. In a novel that's supposed to be all about "walking in someone else's shoes for a while," why is it that we know so little about the woman who pretty much raises the Finch children?

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mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In order to select the character from To Kill a Mockingbird whose account you wish to write, return to the narrative of the trial and the comments of the characters around the time of the trial.  Find things that they have said before, during, and after the trial.  Probably, the character who has had the most to say during the trial--other than Scout--is Dill.

Since you know the feelings of Dill during the trial as he is sickened by the transpirings, you can base your account upon his feelings of sensitivity and what events have triggered his feelings. In Chapter 19, when Mr. Gilmer questions Tom Robinson and mocks him for saying that he felt sorry for Mayella, Dill begins to cry and Jem makes Scout take Dill outside.  Dill tells Scout that he does not care that other lawyers talk to Negroes like that; "Mr. Finch doesn't":

I don't care one speck. It ain't right, somehow it ain't right to do 'em that way.  Hasn't anybody got any business like that.--it just makes me sick.

Then, from behind a tree Mr. Dolphus Raymond commiserates with Dill,

You aren't thin-hided, it just makes you sick, doesn't it?

.Obviously discontent with the cross-examination and the verdict, Dill's case is fairly well outlined for the latter part of the trial.  All that is necessary are the initial feelings of Dill that can be based on his previous behaviors in the narrative.

Jem, too, is a good candidate since he becomes involved in the proceedings that precede the trial.  For instance, in Chapter 15 when men come to the house to speak with Atticus, Jem seeks to protect his father by yelling out that the phone is ringing so that Atticus will reenter the house.  And, since Jem is a little older than Scout, he can more easily follow the proceedings of the trial; he leans on the railing and listens intently.  Then, in Chapter 22, Scout narrates,

It was Jem's turn to cry.  His face was streaked with angry tears as we made our way through the cheerful crowd.  'It ain't right,' he muttered, all the way to the corner of the square where we found Atticus waiting....

When Jem repeats his statement to Atticus, his father agrees. Later, Jem asks his father, "How could they do it, how could they?"  Clearly, Jem has followed well the proceedings and has a sharp sense of what should follow logically from these proceedings. Thus writing an account from Jem's point of view would be rational and deductive with little emotional interpretation, although he feels strongly at the end of the trial after he hears the verdict.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that your decision should depend on which character you feel that you know best or understand the most.  If you feel like you understand a character, it would be a lot easier to write about what you think that character would be thinking and feeling.

Given who you are, the "easy" answer would be for you to do Mayella Ewell.  She's a few years older than you are, but you are probably still way closer to her in terms of attitudes and life experiences than you would be to Scout.  That's not to say you can't do an adult or a man, or both, but I'm just saying she's probably closest to you in terms of age, gender, etc.

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