Friday, August 19, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird Discussion: chapters 20-26

Calpurnia waited by the railing to get the Judge’sattention, when she did she delivered an envelope to Atticus. The envelope hada note inside from Atticus’s sister stating that his kids were missing, haven’tbeen home since noon. As he told the Judge about the note, Mr. Underwood spokesaying that the kids were up in the colored balcony and they have been theresince 1 P.M.
Atticus looked up and called for them to get down. At theend of the staircase they met both Atticus and Calpurnia, Atticus sent themhome with Calpurnia to have supper and allowed them to get back to hear theverdict.
Jem, Scout and Dill walked back home with Calpurnia whoscolded them all the way home. Aunt Alexandra was shocked once she heard wherethe have been, and even more shocked upon learning that Atticus gave thempermission to go back and hear the verdict. They all ate silently, and racedback to the courthouse. They waited with Reverend Sykes, who saved their seats,for jury to come with the verdict. Jem and the Reverend discussed the case withJem insisting “we’ve won it.” After that they all remained silent. The silencemade Scout and Dill sleepy; Scout still had enough energy to fight it, whileDill fell asleep on Jem’s shoulder.
The jury is finally back with a verdict; guilty.

As they left the courthouse and met Atticus outside, Jem wascrying and was incapable of saying anything more than “It ain’t right,Atticus.” He couldn’t believe that the jury would convict Tom when it wasobvious that he didn’t rape Mayella. As soon as they got home they all went tobed. On the next morning everyone was surprised when they saw the amount offood in the kitchen from the black community. Calpurnia explained to Atticusthat they were gifts appreciating what he did to Tom Robinson, in spite of theverdict. Atticus’s eyes welled up with tears as Calpurnia talked, he told herto thank them all and not to do it again, times were hard. Atticus then excusedhimself and left the house.

Soon after that Dill came over, had breakfast with Jem andScout then they all stepped on the front porch. Miss Maudie called for them tocome over; she had some cake for them. She talked to them and pointed to a fewthey never thought about before. Like how it was no coincidence that JudgeTaylor have appointed Atticus to defend Tom, and how many people were trying tohelp Tom. The case may have been lost, but only Atticus could have kept a juryout so long to decide. To her that was a baby step towards equality.

As they were leaving Miss Maudie, Mr. Avery, Miss Rachel andMiss Stephanie Crawford waved at them. To be polite Jem, Scout and Dill walkedover to them. Miss Rachel took Dill by the shoulder instructing him to goinside at once, saying danger is coming. Miss Stephanie started to tell themwhat happened just as Aunt Alexandra was calling for them, Mr. Bob Ewell hadstopped Atticus at the post office corner, and spat in his face, and told himthat he would get him if it took the rest of his life.

Atticus passes it as an empty threat, and tries to convinceJem and Scout that. He also assured them that the case was not over; there isstill the appeal, which Atticus thought they had a good chance in winning.
Discussing the case brings Jem and Atticus into a long legaldiscussion with Jem suggesting solutions so that Tom can be a free man again. WhateverJem suggests, Atticus explains why it would not be applicable.

Later on Jem and Scout discuss the people in Macomb County,their ways and lives. Doing so makes Jem understand Boo Radley more, he staysinside all day because he wants to not because he has to.

Aunt Alexandra introduced Scout to the formal tea time thatshe hosts in an effort to teach Scout on how to be a lady. As Scout observesthe ladies, she is lost in the world of pretty and delicate ladies. At last,she decides that she fits better in her father’s world.

Suddenly Atticus interrupts the ladies, asking for AuntAlexandra to step into the kitchen for a moment with him. Scout knew somethingwas wrong, since Atticus never comes home early whenever his sister is havingsome ladies over. She follows her aunt into the kitchen and learns from Atticusthat Tom Robinson is dead. He tried to escape from the prison and was shot bythe guards. Atticus asks Calpurnia to accompany him and help him deliver thenews to Tom’s wife, Helena. Calpurnia agrees and they both leave. Scout, MissMaudie and Aunt Alexandra rejoin the ladies at tea.

Jem and Dill witnessed what happened when Atticus toldHelena about Tom’s death. They were walking back from swimming at Barker’s Eddywhen they saw Atticus driving by. Atticus didn’t have to say anything to her,she understood from the look on his face what happened, and fainted. Atticusand Calpurnia gently lifted her up and took her inside her house.

Jem tells Scout that he heard that Mr. Ewell had threatenedthem again, saying that there was one down and two to go. Jem believes that itsan empty threat and warns Scout not to worry, and not to breathe a word toAtticus, if she did he won’t speak to her.

School starts and Scout rarely sees Jem since he attendsHigh School now. She’s in third grade now, and sometimes she has to pass theRadley house alone, but she is no longer afraid as she used to be of the place.Passing the house made her think more about Boo Radley and regret tormentinghim the way they used to.

Scout is confused by her teacher, who strongly feels thatAdolf Hitler’s prosecution of the Jew is wrong, while she heard her at thetrial saying ugly things about Tom Robinson, and how this should teach them alla lesson.

Later Scout asked Jem about it, why Miss Gates hates Hitler, feelswhat he does is wrong, and yet feels Tom Robinson's verdict is justified becausehe's black, Jem gets very angry and yells at her and not talk about that trialto him ever again.
When she goes to Atticus for comfort he tells her that Jemis just trying to come to terms with something in his head, and when he doeshe'll start being himself again.


- Do you think that if Tom Robinson was alive till the time of the appeal, would he win it? could he ever be a free man again
- Miss Maudie said that Atticus made the jury stay out for a long time and that alone was a baby step towards equality, do you agree?

Review and questions by Ateka.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird Discussion: Chapters 11-20

As we enter the second set of chapters for our book discussion, pressure is growing on Jim and Scout in Maycombe as their father continues to defend accused black laborer Tom Robinson. The prejudice of many of the townspeople appears in mean, spiteful comments by schoolchildren towards
the two children about their father's work. In the case of Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, her mean attack on Atticus is enough to send Jim over the edge, cutting and hacking at the old lady's Camellia flowers. Partly as punishment, Atticus sends Jim to read to Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose every evening as she lies in bed, every evening growing quieter and quieter until she sends Jim (and Scout) away. When Mrs. Dubose passes away Atticus reveals that reading to her was a lesson for Jim in true bravery, as Mrs. Dubose had been trying to break herself of a morphine addiction the whole time Jim was going to read to her.The summer wears on, and Calpurnia takes the children to her church while Atticus is away - they have a chance to see how the black community of Maycombe lives, far away from the rest of the society they know, and hear more about Tom Robinson's family, who suffer as tom is unable to work while in jail. Soon afterward Aunt Alexandra appears, in an attempt to "teach the children some manners" and have a mother figure around the house. Aunt Alexandra has very specific ideas of the Finch family's place in society, and how they rank among the different social classes of the town, ideas that Scout rejects.

Dill reappears, having run away from his parents. Atticus arranges for Dill to stay the summer as he has in the past. Though happy to see Dill, the children are worried by the darker turn the Tom Robinson case has taken. First, a group of men from town appear at Atticus' door to get him to drop the case. Then, Atticus leaves home for the county jail, to keep Tom Robinson from being lynched by a mob of angry townspeople unwilling to let the case come to trial. They back off only when Scout appears with Jim and dill, and reminds the men that they are individuals after all, with children of their own, and not simply a senseless mob. Scout struggles to understand how people she knows, like Mr. Cunningham, would be willing to kill another person without a trial, or threaten Atticus to do so.

One day not long after, the children notice a commotion all around town- it seems that anybody and everybody is coming to Maycombe. Talking to their neighbor, Miss Maudie, they find out that the trial of Tom Robinson is taking place, and they rush to observe the events. Finding a place with the black church community upstairs, they watch as the prosecutor, Mr. Gilmer, and Atticus examine the first witness, Sherriff Heck Tate. Tom Robinson stands accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a member of the lower class Ewell family who live out in the back woods and whose patriarch, Bob Ewell, is a notorious drunkard. Atticus gets Sherriff Tate to admit that Mayella was beaten up all on the right side of her face - her right side. It is very unlikely Tom Robinson beat her up, as his left arm is useless following an accident with a piece of farm machinery.

Bob Ewell takes the stand, treating Atticus with contempt and asserting that Tom Robinson raped his daughter, as though his word alone is enough to condemn Tom. Atticus points out that Bob did nothing to help his daughter after the alleged rape, such as calling a doctor, and tricks Mr. Ewell into showing that he is left-handed - and thus more likely to have beaten up his daughter than Tom Robinson. Mayella Ewell follows her father to the stand, telling a story of Tom Robinson taking advantage of her after she asks for his help in breaking apart a chiffarobe, a kind of wardrobe. Atticus, while treating her with all politeness and kindness, shows how flimsy her testimony is, riddled with contradictions. When Mayella breaks down and runs off, a brief recess allows the children something of a break in the proceedings.

Finally, Atticus Finch calls Tom Robinson to take the stand. Tom tells his own version of the story: As he was passing by the Ewell residence, Mayella asked him for help busting up a chiffarobe, and he gladly helped her without asking for money. This wasn't the first time though - she asked for his help again and again on many occasions and each time he obliged. Finally, one day she tried to kiss him, and he pulled back, aware of the dangerous position this would put him in, and had to flee when bob Ewell arrived. Atticus leaves it to the court's imagination what Bob Ewell did when he saw his daughter trying to kiss a black man. Sickened by the proceedings, Dills feels he has to leave to court, and Scout goes with him.

They return just in time for Atticus' closing statement. His damning statement asserts that not one shred of evidence has shown that any rape took place, while laying out an alternate series of events: Mayella Ewell, neglected by her father and constantly beset by her many younger siblings, longed for any kind of escape, and so took to inviting Tom Robinson over just to have some kind of company. When she tried to kiss
him, though, her father saw and beat her terribly for the offence. The story of Tom attacking her was made up later to cover up what Bob Ewell had done. Atticus calls on the equality of men before the law guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence as a guideline for the jury in carrying out the truth of the law rather than the easy way of following what society already expected. Asking the jury to do their duty in the name of God, he then finishes his statement just as Calpurnia appears in court.

Review written by Andrew Leber, State Dept.

Question: What do you think of Atticus's ways of dealing with his children? Throughout he's criticized about how he raised them, do you think people are justified with their criticism?

Question by Noor

Thursday, August 11, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird Discussion: Chapters 1-10

Scout and Jem are Atticus's kids. Jem is the eldest and scout looks up to him. They live in Maycoumb. Scout and Jem are somewhat obsessed with one of their neighbors who are an oddity. The Radley's. They have a son who was involved in crimes around the town until one day his father gives his word to a judge that he won't cause harm anymore. So the son, Boo Radley is more or less locked up at home. Dill comes to visit one summer. He has an aunt who lives in the neighborhood. Jem and Scout tell him all they know about the Radleys. Dill dares Jem to go and touch the Radley house. After much hesitation he does it. Dill unfortunately has to leave as the school year's about to start. Scout's first day in first grade is terrible. She's lectured by the teacher because she can read and write. Her father reassures her that they'll continue their secret lessons as long as she keeps going to school. You meet the cunninghams who are poor yet proud people and the Elays who are mannerless and they only come to school on the first day.

Next summer arrives and Dill is back. The summer before they used to act plays of their own, but now they start a dangerous game. Playing the Radleys. They once heard that Boo Radley stabbed his father in the thigh so Jem and Dill act that scene among others. One day Atticus sees them and gets suspicious.

On Dill's last day, they all go to the Radley's house peeping in. A gunshot is heard, and as they rush outside, Jem's pants are stuck and so he leaves them there. Atticus and the neighbors are outside, saying that Mr. Radley shot a black man. They ask Jem about his pants, and Dill quickly says he won them in strip-poker. Atticus asks him to get them back. Jem leaves that night to retrieve them from the Radleys house despite Scout's pleas.

We then meet Uncle Jack around christmas. They all go to their aunt's place. Scout, who's very hot-tempered, gets into a fight with her cousin because he called her dad a nigger-lover. Atticus takes them back home. Scout told Uncle Jack all about the incident because everyone thought it was Scout's fault. She made him promise not to tell her dad because she promised Atticus she wouldn't fight anyone talking bad about him and instead walk with her head held high.

Snow arrives. Jem and Scout see it for the first time. They even make a snowman that looks like one of their neighbors. They borrow snow from Miss Maudie's yard. Miss Maudie is very nice to them, she always makes cake for them and loves her plants dearly. Scout spends some time with her during the summer when Jem and Dill won't include her in their games. They talk about many things, including the Radleys. Sadly enough, her house catches fire one day and the fire even extends to the Finch's house. She's doesn't grieve the fact that her house is destroyed because she always dreamed of wrecking it herself.

A tree standing on the way Jem and Scout take to school, has holes where they find things. First Scout finds chewing them, then they both find a watch, a packet of chewing gum and 2 dolls that looking exactly like them. They wonder who puts things there till one day they find that the holes have been cemented. Mr Radley tells Jem he did it because the tree was dying. Jem asks his father if it is, but Atticus says it's not.

A mad dog shows up in their neighborhood one day. Calpurnia, their maid, calls Atticus and tells him about it. He and another man show up with a rifle to kill it. Calpurnia warns everyone and the street's soon deserted. Atticus shoots the dog.

Review written by Noor.

Which chapter did you like best? Which character interests you the most? Ask the questions that came to your mind when reading the 10 chapters for the other members to answer and leave the points that you'd want to discuss with us here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Second Bookclub Selection Starts Today

Reading To Kill A Mocking Bird starts today, so grab your copy, get comfy and start reading with the rest of us. A review of the first 10 chapters will be on our blog by the 11th of August, and at 9.30 pm join us here to discuss those assigned chapters where we can exchange our thoughts and understand the book better.

Don't forget to write down any questions you might have, or anything you'd like to discuss in those chapters. This way we can ensure a rich reading experience for all of us.

Here's a link to the pdf version if you can't get a copy of the book: 

Happy reading everyone.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

August Book Club Starts Tomorrow!

We'd like to announce that our second bookclub starts tomorrow. The August selection is To Kill A Mockingbird and here's the schedule.

Reading starting date: 7th of August.
Discussion of chapters (1 to 10): 11th of August.
Discussion of chapters (11-20): 16th of August
Discussion of chapters (21-26): 19th of August.

A total of 13 days in which we'll read 10 chapters in 5 days, and the 6 remaining chapters in 3 days to have the final discussion on the 19th of this month.

We reduced the number of discussion sessions this time to fit with everyone's busy schedule in Ramadhan, hence the timing of the live discussions are now at 9:30 PM. We hope it'd be convenient for all.

So get your copy ready and if you don't have one, you can download the e-book from here:

See you tomorrow!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Events: Book Fair Donation Needed

"BankMuscat is holding a charity book fair in Ramadhan, date to be advised. They are collecting stories and any other books suitable for children and young adults, in addition to family-related books". For more information, read the details in the pictures below.