Les oubliés de Vulcain


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Danielle Martinigol

Chapter One

Scout is the narrator, and begins the novel with a discussion about a broken arm. Her brother Jem had this unfortunate injury many years ago. She goes on to address her family history, and how they came to America a long time before she was ever born, where Simon Finch founded Finch's Landing. Recounting the history of her ancestors leads her to Atticus, who is her father. As she talks about her father, she begins to tell the tale that will make up the rest of the book, beginning in the summer of 1933. Scout is five at that time, and her brother is almost ten. They have been raised by their father since their mother died when Scout was two. She does not remember her mother very well, but Jem does. He is not always happy about his memories. The summer Scout is describing is different than others summers, because a boy named Dill comes to town to stay with relatives. He is an intelligent and talkative boy, and quickly becomes friends with Scout and her brother. The trio often plays together.

They spend the summer acting out stories they have heard or read, but they eventually run out of stories. At that point, Dill thinks it would be fun to lure a reclusive neighbor out of his house. Boo Radley has not been seen in years. He got into trouble when he was very young, and his father decided his punishment would be prison – in the house. Fifteen years after that, he stabbed his father, but the man refused to press charges or do anything about it. Eventually, Mr. Radley died and Boo's brother, Nathan, arrived at the house to live with Boo. Still, he would not come outside. Jem even runs over and touches the house on a dare, but nothing happens except a shutter that moves slightly. Scout wonders if Boo is watching them.

The entire novel is set between the time Scout turns five and the time she turns nine, but the first-person narration at the beginning of the story comes from an adult Scout who is much older. The voice fluctuates between adult and child, talking about the events as they took place and they looking back on the years spent as a child. The child's voice, though, is the dominant one throughout much of the plot. Even though the young Scout does not always understand some of the connections and events, the reader sees them. A circular novel, To Kill a Mockingbird essentially begins in the same place it ends. In the early part of the story, Dill is very dominant. He represents the childhood and innocence of the beginning of the story. As Jem and Scout grow up and begin to have a more adult understanding of various issues and parts of life, Dill's part in the story is lessened. Boo Radley remains the children's focus throughout the first chapter.

Chapter Two

In the second chapter, Dill leaves Maycomb because summer is over and it is time to go back to school. Scout is about to start school for the first time. She is very excited, but that quickly changes when she realizes her teacher is not very good with children. Because Scout can read, the teacher makes her feel bad about herself for already being so educated, and blames her father for teaching her too much before she came to school. Scout and her teacher also have a fight about a boy, Walter, who is too poor to buy or bring his lunch. The teacher offers him money and says he can pay her back the next day, but Scout tries to explain to her that he will never be able to do that. She only wants to help, and begins to explain the way things work in Maycomb with the Ewells, Cunninghams, and others. The teacher gets frustrated and hits Scout with a ruler. Walter feels bad for getting Scout into trouble, even though he really had not done anything wrong.

The teaching at Scout's school is idealistic, and her teacher is very narrow-minded. By being angry that Scout already knows how to read, the teacher is conveying the idea that things must be done a certain way in the town in order to be acceptable. Also provided in this chapter is a look at the societal hierarchy of Maycomb, and how the teacher – coming from further North – does not understand how things work. When she gets angry at Scout for trying to explain Walter's money situation, she is not allowing the residents of the town to show her how things are done there. She wants things done her way, instead.

Chapter Three

At lunchtime, Scout is mad because the poor boy – Walter – got her into trouble with the teacher. She holds him down and rubs his face in the dirt, but Jem comes to Walter's rescue and invites him to come to lunch at the Finch's house. Atticus and Walter talk about farming, and Scout is upset again because Walter puts molasses on his vegetables and meat. Calpurnia calls Scout into the kitchen and slaps her, insisting that she be a good hostess and not treat Walter that way. When they get back to school, their teacher sees a bug crawl out of Burris Ewell's hair, and is terrified by it. The Ewell's are extremely poor, and Burris only comes to school once a year. He leaves, and is so mean to the teacher that she starts to cry. When Scout gets home, Atticus asks if she is all right, and she says she is not going to go to school anymore. He can teach her at home. He explains that the law will not allow that, but he promises to keep reading to her, and it will be their secret from the teacher.

The reader learns more about Maycomb through Chapter Three. The differences between the Ewells and the Cunninghams are shown more clearly, as the former makes no effort to improve their lot in life and the latter are striving to do better. They are honest, hardworking people who simply do not have much to show for their efforts. Atticus sees everything that goes on in the town. Being a lawyer, he is well-acquainted with both the strengths and the weaknesses of the majority of the townspeople. Calpurnia's role in the lives of the children is also brought to light more clearly, as she "mothers" then to some extent but also still knows her specific place in the household.

Chapter Four

The school year goes slowly for Scout, because she is much smarter than the tasks she is asked to complete require of her. She is frustrated and upset. She walks past the Radley house, and sees that there is tinfoil sticking out of a knothole in a tree on the property. When she reaches in, she finds that there are two chewing gum pieces hidden there. She chews them, and while she is chewing, she finds Jem and tells him about them. He gets scared and makes her spit them out, because they could be poisoned or make her sick. Walking by the tree on the last day of school, they check the knothole and find two pennies, which they agree to keep. With the coming of summer, Dill is back in Maycomb and the games between the three children start up again, as does their friendship.

They start playing with an old tire, rolling each other around inside of it. They all get scared when Scout rolls right in from of the steps to the Radley house, but Jem gets an idea. He suggests they play "Boo Radley," and they make up stories about Boo and his family all summer long, telling one another wild tales and then acting some of them out with one another. Atticus asks them about their game because he is concerned that they may not understand what they are really doing, but they lie and say it does not have anything to do with the Radleys, so they will not get into trouble. After that, they wonder if they should quit playing that game and if it is causing any harm.

Scout languishes in school because the work is too easy, and she is still afraid of the Radley house. Finding the gum and the pennies, though, starts to give her (and the reader) some more insight into Boo Radley and who he might really be. By playing their game and making up what Boo's life is like, the children explore their world and learn more about it. Some would say that their game is cruel, and that they are making fun of Boo, but they do not see the harm. In their minds they are not making fun, but they are simply telling a story that focuses on a character that fascinates and intrigues them. Since they do not understand what Boo is really like, their portrayal of him is more fiction than fact.

Chapter Five

Scout starts to feel like she is being left out, because Dill and Jem are becoming closer friends. She starts to spend a lot of time with Miss Maudie Atkinson, a widowed neighbor who likes to bake cakes and garden. Maudie is close in age to Jack, who is Atticus' brother, and the two were childhood friends. She tells Scout more about Boo Radley, and how he was believed to be mistreated by his father, who was a Baptist and believed that almost everyone was headed to Hell. Maudie talks about Boo as a child, and how he was so polite and friendly all the time. While many rumors about him are not true, he is likely crazy now because of all the time he has spent closed up in the house. Dill and Jem want to invite Boo to come outside, so he can have ice cream with them. They decide that they are going to stick a note in the Radley's window by using a fishing pole. Atticus catches them and insists that they stop tormenting Boo by playing their game and by trying to send him notes and messages.

By trying to get Boo to come out of his house, the children show that they really want to see him and befriend him. Also, they want to make sure that he is real. Children have a desire to see what has not been revealed to them, so they can develop more of an understanding about their world. Their place in that world is not clearly defined when they have no frame of reference. Atticus comes along and puts a damper on their hopes of seeing Boo Radley, because he insists that they stop their game and stop trying to contact Boo. Atticus is highly respected in Maycomb, and he does not think that it is right to pry into the private lives of other people for any reason.

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