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The Narrator Debate: To Kill A Mockingbird

1642 words - 7 pages

Paul Simon, the musician, once said, “If you can get humor and seriousness at the same time, [you have] created a special little thing, and [that is] what [I am] looking for, because if you get pompous, you lose everything” (Simon 1). Racism in the 1930s and until the 1960s was a very serious issue. As stated, authors have taken this serious issue and turned it into great pieces of literature. Many of them have truly shown the seriousness of racism in society. Even though, criticism, as always, continues. Some critics have argued that Scout, in To Kill A Mockingbird, is an unreliable narrator. This is simply because Scout is a child. They suspect she is too innocent, naïve, and has an ...view middle of the document...

The people in Scout’s life and events involving Scout specifically make up the novel. Even though a court case involving a race issue is more important than the personal life of a six-year old, it allows the reader to see the society in uncommon setups. Moreover, Scout allows the reader to see how children in general think of society’s events. Scout, along with Jem and Dill, are not really part of any social issues in Maycomb County. According to critic Edgar H. Schuster in Mancini’s book, Jem and Scout aren’t a part of “racial prejudice” and the theme of racism is “concentrated in one part of the book only…” (Mancini 101). Again, the novel is more focused on Maycomb County as a whole. If the narrator had been an adult, the reader would not have been able to see the “outer surface” of society. With a child narrator, racial issues are not a very big deal. The reader gets to experience the story in a more relaxed setting. All things considered, Scout gives the reader a chance to look at issues outside of the box, and in addition, in different ways.
In addition, a child narrator allows readers to look at things from different perspectives. If the narrator had been an adult, the whole novel would be focused on Tom Robinson’s trial. Furthermore, Scout sees the society of Maycomb County in a way different from that of adults. Some things are more important to her than to adults, and vice versa. As Mancini said, “We can accept the fact that she believes the most important event of that summer is Boo’s appearance, not the trial and the eventual death of Tom Robinson…” (Mancini 100). Her interactions with Boo Radley were of much more value than Tom Robinson and the trial as a whole. Moreover, examining Scout’s point of view helps the reader realize that it’s not just one situation to deal with in the whole novel. Joyce Moss and George Wilson, authors of the “To Kill A Mockingbird” section in Literature and Its Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events that Influenced Them, state, “For a child narrator (albeit a sophisticated one), the members of this unfamiliar social group might easily blend together most of time” (Moss and Wilson 394). The “social group” (394) it is referring to the blacks of Maycomb County. For Scout, the segregation of blacks and whites and what happens between the two racial groups are not important. Unlike most authors, Lee doesn’t show the Negro community as a weak, oppressed community. In fact, To Kill A Mockingbird shows the Negroes more as a family. Lee carries this out through Scout, the child narrator. If the narrator had been an adult, the reader would have probably never thought of the black society in the same way. In a part of the novel, Scout and Jem encounter Mrs. Dubose. According to Joyce Moss and George Wilson:
Later, Atticus tries to show his children courage by exposing them to Mrs. Dubose, a cantankerous old woman struggling to free herself from an addiction to morphine before she...

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