Closeted Traditions and Sexual Curiosities in Harper Lee’s Novel
Publication Year: 2011
Published by: The University of Tennessee Press
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Introduction: Miss Jean Louise, Your Novel’s about Passin’
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“Was I sleeping, while the others suffered? Am I sleeping now? Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot? That Pozzo passed, with his carrier, and that he spoke to us? Probably. But in all that what truth will there be? He’ll know nothing. He’ll tell me about the blows he received and I’ll give him a...
1. Mockingbird and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy: A Test Case for the American Scholar
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The canonization of Lee’s Mockingbird can be at least partially, if not mostly, attributed to its refinement of the American romance. Aspects of its style are congruent with the symbolism-infused romances of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, observes Robert Butler (124), as is its content. A long line of nineteenth-century texts in which men have followed individual conscience and pursued independence at the expense of their social reputation...
2. Mockingbird and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: Testimony to the Mythic Power of Uncle Tom Melodrama
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Not only does “A Child’s Reminiscence” characterize the style and “backthrust” (Dave 53) rhythm of Mockingbird, but Whitman’s refrain of pending “Death, Death, Death, Death, Death” becomes the relentless song sung by the novel, as if a regenerative cycle “out of the cradle endlessly rocking.” The popularity of Mockingbird’s dark, ironic vision of American history, the fate...
3. Mockingbird and Modernist Method: Child Consciousness, or How Scout Knew
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Stowe’s novel is characterized by an omniscient Victorian narrator overtly in control of the story’s presentation. Like a stage director, she invites us to revisit certain characters, tells us she will leave certain others to their activities for awhile, and pleads directly for our sympathies in a passionate second address, in the fashion of Susanna Rowson’s Charlotte Temple. The narrator...
4. Mockingbird and Modernist Polyphony: How Scout Tells, How Lee Laughs
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There are particular continuities in the voices of all the Scouts identified in chapter 3—narrator, focalizer, and character. They all share an insider/outsider position in relation to their communities and, as such, speak a variety of tongues. In the same sentence, you might find the narrator using words like “synonymous” and “jackass” (5), or “unknown entity the mere description...
5. Mockingbird and Post–World War II Southern Writing: Dill, Capote, and the Dragging Out of Boo Radley
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Mockingbird features an impressively long line of neglected children: Boo Radley; Mayella and her siblings; the lunchless Walter who craves sugary syrup; the motherless Scout, at whom the neighbors are shaking their heads; the mixed-race children, who sadly belong nowhere (says Jem); and the boy nicknamed Dill, perhaps the quintessential symbol of the child in perpetual...
6. Mockingbird and Modern Women’s Regional Writing: Awakening, Passing, and Passing Out
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If the ending image of Atticus’s bedside vigil shows him in a posture of both “Waiting for Godot” and of reading, thus echoing the politically charged closing of Frederick Douglass’s first slave narrative, the ending image of Scout distills the feelings of sleepiness and stillness that have been increasingly overwhelming her in the final third of the novel. The unnatural stillness of...
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Page Count: 362
Publication Year: 2011