Chapters Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven – Plot Summary Chapter 8 Winter 1934 / Chapter 9 Christmas 1934 / Chapter 10 February 1935 / Chapter 11 Spring 1935 Snowfall in Maycomb. Miss Maudie’s fire. Atticus agrees to defend Tom Robinson. Christmas at Aunt Alexandra’s. Atticus shoots a rabid dog. Jem destroys Mrs Dubose’s camellias and has to read to her. Mrs Dubose dies.
Narrative Structure – Turning Point Miss Maudie’s fire – Chapter 8. Before fire, novel centres on Scout’s childhood world, the games she plays with Jem and Dill and their childhood superstitions about Boo Radley. After the fire the drama of the trial takes over. This emphasises the loss of innocence theme as adult problems and concerns begin to disrupt the happy world of the Finch children.
Characterisation – Atticus Has strong moral values. Practices justice, restraint and honesty. Tells Scout and Jem to avoid getting into fights even if they are verbally abused and to practice quiet courage instead. He is an upright, decent man – “before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience” – Chapter 11
Characterisation - Atticus He takes on the Robinson case even though he knows that his children will suffer taunts: “ If I didn’t, I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again”. He stands for Christian values. He practices forgiveness and tolerance. Task – explain why his reaction to Mrs Dubose exemplifies the above.
Characterisation - Jem Jem starts being proud of his dad when he sees him shoot the rabid dog. Jem learns an important lesson through his relationship with Mrs Dubose when he realises that there is more than one side to her. Although she is dying, she is bravely trying to overcome her drug addiction. The way Atticus treats her (with respect and courtesy) provides a role model for Jem to copy.
Theme – Prejudice / Intolerance The town of Maycomb which has so far been presented in a largely positive light (inhabitants all helping Miss Maudie at fire) suddenly turns against the Finches when Atticus defends Tom Robinson. Atticus is called a “nigger-lover”. Even members of Atticus’s own family – his sister Aunt Alexandra and her grandson- are critical of him.
Theme – Prejudice & Intolerance “Nigger” – white people take it for granted that black people are less important than white people. They think that black people are less sensitive and do not need to be treated with respect or as equals.
Theme – Courage (Miss Maudie) Miss Maudie shows great courage in accepting the loss of her house. Homework Task- explain why.
Theme – Courage (Mrs Dubose) In some ways, she represents everything that is wrong with Maycomb – she is a racist, malicious to the children and critical of Atticus. Yet, this side is balanced by her bravery and determination. Atticus represents Mrs Dubose for possessing “real courage” which he explains as “when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what”
Theme - Courage Harper Lee wants Jem, Scout and the reader to understand that MORAL courage is far more important that PHYSICAL courage. After Mrs Dubose’s death, Atticus tells the children, “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”. Atticus defends Tom Robinson because he has courage and believes he must. He knows he will fail which makes his determination even braver.
Theme – Growing Up Scout’s learning comes mostly from Atticus who teaches her to control her impulsiveness (Chapter 9) and to recognise different sorts of courage (Chapters 10 & 11). Homework Task- find two quotations to illustrate the above point. By the time of Mrs Dubose’s death, Jem and Scout realise that it is wrong to judge others too quickly or too superficially. Homework task – find a quotation.
Theme – Growing Up Another lesson that the children learn as they grow up is that adults frequently have to do things which they would rather not do, but they must do them properly: shooting a rabid dog persevering in the face of defeat visiting dull relatives
Theme - Innocence Symbolised by the mockingbird: “Shoot all the bluejays you want, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” The mockingbird represents the innocence of people like Boo Radley and Tom Robinson who are persecuted even though they do no wrong and only try to help others.
Theme - Innocence “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”.
Theme – Innocence (Boo) Boo’s likeness to a mockingbird is because he is psychologically damaged. He is timid, childlike and almost incapable of being integrated into Maycomb society. He is an outsider and not properly understood, so he is seen as threatening. Homework Task – quotation search.