How does Harper Lee establish the characters and key themes in chapters two and three of “To Kill a Mockingbird”? Essays

Submitted By Jessie_2009
Words: 1664
Pages: 7

How does Lee establish the characters and key themes in chapters two and three of “To Kill a Mockingbird”?
In chapters two and three of To Kill a Mockingbird there are many different techniques Harper Lee uses throughout the piece. Harper Lee narrates through the chapters using Scout; this changes the whole insight of the piece therefore changing the readers ideas about the events.
“The Cunningham’s never took anything they can’t pay back.” The Cunningham’s at the bottom of the social scale, the first reference we get to the Cunningham’s lifestyle is when Atticus is explaining to Scout how Mr Cunningham would pay them back. “Not in money but before the year’s out I’ll have been paid. You watch.” The Cunningham’s paid them with stove-wood, hickory nuts and turnip greens. Walter Cunningham is exactly like his father, polite, independent and unwilling to accept charity. One example is when Miss Caroline gives him money for lunch; he refuses it politely and asks Scout to tell her why. The other family at the bottom are the Ewell’s. The Ewell family is slightly dysfunctional because the children say that Burris Ewell hasn’t got a mother. Also Burris says, “Been comin’ to the first day o’ the first grade fer three year now.” Burris and his father display the same sort of character, a dislikeable one. “He’s a mean one, a hard down mean one. He’s liable to start somethin’.” Burris has no respect for the teachers or his fellow students. He doesn’t get much of a social life either because he doesn’t get to talk to many children. The Cunningham’s and the Ewell’s are similar because they are both very poor and they rely on no one but themselves. However the Ewell’s have no respect and no manners whereas the Cunningham’s get along without harming anyone. The middle of the social ladder is Calpurnia because although she is a house made she had good clothes and food. Calpurnia helps look after Jem and Scout, that means eh cooking and an all round carer because Atticus is always busy. “We couldn’t operate a single day without Cal.” Atticus depends on Cal so that is why she is such an important member to their family. She is well educated because Cal taught Scout to write, “Calpurnia had more education than most coloured folks.” This indicates that even though she is a black woman she is still well educated, she has a good job and she gets on well with Atticus. The highest on the social ladder is Atticus, he is well respected throughout Maycomb, he has a good job and he seems well educated. He helped people in ways that he could, like not minding when Jem and Scout brought Walter Cunningham back. He is very respectful, polite and likeable because he was soon in full conversation with Walter about the farm ect. He is very respectful towards Calpurnia and recognises the fact that they couldn’t get by without her. He knows that even though his family is poor they are fortunate.
“Are we poor, Atticus”
“We are indeed.”
“Are we as poor as the Cunningham’s?”
“Not exactly. The Cunningham’s are country folk, farmers and the crash hit them the hardest.”
Overall, he is an honourable man who gets by without complaining.

Lee establishes sympathy by the language narrated by Scout. She uses Scout to help the reader gain a better perspective of the Maycomb community and how it functions. Meeting Scouts classmates in the beginning of the book makes an opening for the families that come in later in the book. I think that the reader becomes more engaged in the book through a child’s viewpoint because you can relate to Scout and the children better, the language is more simplistic making it easy to get into the book. Lee captures sympathy in the reader by allowing us to learn with Scout about the school and generally Maycomb’s ways. Scout includes her thoughts and opinions which makes the events more personal and engaging.
Learning was stricter in those days because as Scout finds out, they didn’t want you to learn to read and