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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird


by Harper Lee

Analysis: Writing Style


Scout's narration usually doesn't comment much on the action, just presents what happens as a series of facts. Here's an example:

Aunt Alexandra sat down in Calpurnia's chair and put her hands to her face. She sat quite still; she was so quiet I wondered if she would faint. I heard Miss Maudie breathing as if she had just climbed the steps, and in the diningroom the ladies chattered happily.

I thought Aunt Alexandra was crying, but when she took her hands away from her face, she was not. She looked weary. She spoke, and her voice was flat. (24.74)

Like Aunt Alexandra and Miss Maudie, Scout's just heard that Tom Robinson has been shot and killed. But instead of getting Scout's feelings, we read a series of sentences describing the actions of the two older women. It's almost like we're there, watching the scene as it happens. Without Scout telling us what she feels (and therefore giving us a hint as to what we should feel), we're free to come up with our own emotional reactions to the situation—and maybe even to imagine that Scout feels the same way as we do.

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