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  #1  
Old 03-03-2010, 09:30 AM
Sigene Sigene is offline
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to kill a mockingbird

Yeah I just watched the movie (but I think my question belongs here)

What does "to kill a mockingbird" mean? I don't mean the movie or book, I'm sure it has all sorts of meanings. What does the actual saying mean "to kill a mockingbird."?

Scout towards the end says something along the lines of "I reckon its just like shooting a mockingbird?" I don't get the meaning, nor the context.
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  #2  
Old 03-03-2010, 09:37 AM
h.sapiens h.sapiens is offline
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Earlier, Atticus explained to Scout that it's a sin to kill a mockingbird, because they don't do any harm to anyone, unlike other birds, which can eat crops and be pests. Boo Radley is harmless, like a mockingbird, so he should be left alone, rather than being made into a hero for saving Jem and Scout. If the neighbors started paying a lot of attention to him, even out of gratitude, he'd only suffer.
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:37 AM
Contrapuntal Contrapuntal is offline
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As far as I know, the quote is from the book, not the other way around.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Harper Lee
"I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
“Your father's right," she said. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:38 AM
elbows elbows is offline
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Atticus explains in the film, when the school boy with the syrup is over to dinner. His Dad gave him a gun and told him he'd rather he shot at cans in the yard, but reckoned sooner or later the urge to shoot birds would be too much to resist. He told him he could shoot all the bluejays he wanted but it was a sin to kill a mockingbird. They don't eat crops or nest in corn cribs, they don't do anything but provide song.

At the end of the film, Scout reckons revealing that Boo killed the attacker would be like killing a mockingbird, in a way.
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  #5  
Old 03-03-2010, 09:38 AM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
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You're not the only one

Homer Simpson:

Quote:
The only ever read one book, To Kill A Mockingbird, and it gave me absolutely no insight on how to kill a mockingbird
I remember reading this in high school and as far as I could determain, Lee made the phrase up. Much in the same way Joseph Heller made up the phrase "Catch-22"
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  #6  
Old 03-03-2010, 12:23 PM
ianzin ianzin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Markxxx View Post
Much in the same way Joseph Heller made up the phrase "Catch-22"
Just as an incidental bit of trivia, I once read that when he completed the first draft of the novel, the phrase was 'Catch-17' or something like that. Each time he revised the manuscript, he increased the number by one, partly for fun and partly to keep track of how many drafts he'd completed. And 'Catch-22' happened to be the one that was deemed ready for publication.
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  #7  
Old 03-03-2010, 12:36 PM
Captain Amazing Captain Amazing is offline
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It was originally going to be Catch-18, but Heller's agent was afraid that it would be confused with Leon Uris's "Mila 18". So then they considered Catch-11, but then Oceans 11 came out, so then it became Catch-17, but they worried that people would confuse it with Stalag 17. So then Heller suggested Catch-14, but, as his publisher told him, "14 isn't a funny number!", and so it became Catch-22.
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  #8  
Old 03-03-2010, 12:57 PM
needscoffee needscoffee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigene View Post
Yeah I just watched the movie (but I think my question belongs here)

What does "to kill a mockingbird" mean? I don't mean the movie or book, I'm sure it has all sorts of meanings. What does the actual saying mean "to kill a mockingbird."?

Scout towards the end says something along the lines of "I reckon its just like shooting a mockingbird?" I don't get the meaning, nor the context.
I wonder how you missed this if you just watched the movie.
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  #9  
Old 03-03-2010, 01:15 PM
Munch Munch is offline
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Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
I wonder how you missed this if you just watched the movie.
Yup. Sounds like homework to me.
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  #10  
Old 03-03-2010, 02:10 PM
Sigene Sigene is offline
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Nope, I musta napped through this part


Come on; I was tired....I'm middle aged man.
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  #11  
Old 03-03-2010, 02:16 PM
Joey P Joey P is offline
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Originally Posted by needscoffee View Post
I wonder how you missed this if you just watched the movie.
That's kinda what I was thinking, it's like asking where the title "Cat On A Hot Tin Roof" came from. Sounds all symbolic and stuff, but it's explained quite clearly in the movie.

But hey, I've been distracted and missed big chunks of movies too.
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  #12  
Old 03-03-2010, 02:18 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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I think Tom Robinson is also a figurative "mockingbird."
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  #13  
Old 03-03-2010, 02:38 PM
daveg daveg is offline
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Wonderful story, wonderful movie. One of my favorites. And to think no CGI or 3D. My my.

Last edited by daveg; 03-03-2010 at 02:39 PM..
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  #14  
Old 03-03-2010, 02:40 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is offline
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Originally Posted by h.sapiens View Post
it's a sin to kill a mockingbird, because they don't do any harm to anyone
But they're always pointing and laughing at me! Stupid mockingbirds.
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  #15  
Old 03-03-2010, 02:46 PM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Originally Posted by spoke- View Post
I think Tom Robinson is also a figurative "mockingbird."
I agree. At least as much as Boo.

I was attacked by a mama mockingbird on my way in to work one morning merely for walking close to her nest which was in one of the junipers lining the main drive. So I know mockingbirds aren't saints. But they do sing nice.

Harper Lee would have bombed out if it had been "To Kill A Bluejay." Or a starling.
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  #16  
Old 03-03-2010, 08:32 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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What if that mockingbird don't sing?
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  #17  
Old 03-03-2010, 09:03 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Originally Posted by Zeldar View Post
But they do sing nice.
Imitating a car alarm at 2 a.m. may be a lot of things, but "nice" isn't one of them .

I like mockingirds, but bachelor males that have picked up a suburban repetoire can be a pain in the ass.
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  #18  
Old 03-03-2010, 09:12 PM
SteveG1 SteveG1 is offline
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Originally Posted by Fear Itself View Post
What if that mockingbird don't sing?
Momma gonna buy you a diamond ring

The Mocking bird was Boo Radley, a man who stayed to himself. He was the hero of the story. He was apparently thought of as being weird, creepy and crazy by the town, but when it mattered, he acted and saved the girl's life. He would not have been able to handle sudden fame, so in keeping silent about what he did, they were protecting him.

It was a magnificent movie, based on a wonderful book. Anyone who has never read it for its own sake is missing out. Anyone who had to read it in school (where they tend to bleed all the enjoyment out of reading) should revisit it and see the film again.
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  #19  
Old 03-03-2010, 10:23 PM
RandMcnally RandMcnally is offline
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Originally Posted by spoke- View Post
I think Tom Robinson is also a figurative "mockingbird."
That's what I said in school, but my teacher said I was wrong.
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  #20  
Old 03-03-2010, 11:08 PM
Spoke Spoke is offline
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Originally Posted by RandMcnally View Post
That's what I said in school, but my teacher said I was wrong.
Your teacher was a figurative blue jay.
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  #21  
Old 03-04-2010, 06:46 AM
Zeldar Zeldar is offline
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Originally Posted by spoke- View Post
Your teacher was a figurative blue jay.
And that's a fact, Jack.
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  #22  
Old 03-04-2010, 08:46 AM
CurtC CurtC is offline
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Originally Posted by Sigene View Post
Nope, I musta napped through this part

Come on; I was tired....I'm middle aged man.
You're a middle-aged man and you just now watched TKAM? That's even worse!

From your question in the OP, it sounds like you think the phrase "to kill a mockingbird" predates the book, but I'm pretty sure the book is what introduced it.
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  #23  
Old 03-04-2010, 01:27 PM
Sailboat Sailboat is offline
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Wonderful story, wonderful movie. One of my favorites. And to think no CGI or 3D. My my.
Yet. The 3-D, CGI, Surround-Sound, force-feedback, LED-screen, fully-interactive remake will be released in 2012.
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  #24  
Old 03-04-2010, 02:03 PM
WotNot WotNot is offline
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Yet. The 3-D, CGI, Surround-Sound, force-feedback, LED-screen, fully-interactive remake will be released in 2012.
… in COLOUR!
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  #25  
Old 03-04-2010, 11:29 PM
Hail Ants Hail Ants is offline
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Just like to point out that Boo Radley was played by a very young Robert Duvall!
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  #26  
Old 03-04-2010, 11:46 PM
HazelNutCoffee HazelNutCoffee is offline
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As an aside, the Korean translation of the book title amounts to "Killing Parrots." We use the same word for mockingbirds and parrots. As a teacher I've gotten questions about whether parrots are commonly seen in the wild in Alabama.
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  #27  
Old 03-04-2010, 11:49 PM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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Are they?

(I saw them frequently in L.A.)
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  #28  
Old 03-04-2010, 11:50 PM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
Just like to point out that Boo Radley was played by a very young Robert Duvall!
In (more or less) his first movie role. He is listed as having an uncredited, unconfirmed part in Somebody Up There Likes Me, then several appearances in TV series, then Mockingbird.
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  #29  
Old 03-05-2010, 04:19 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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You're a middle-aged man and you just now watched TKAM? That's even worse!
I've never seen it either - just read the book.
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  #30  
Old 03-05-2010, 07:38 AM
PoorYorick PoorYorick is offline
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Originally Posted by SteveG1 View Post
It was a magnificent movie, based on a wonderful book. Anyone who has never read it for its own sake is missing out. Anyone who had to read it in school (where they tend to bleed all the enjoyment out of reading) should revisit it and see the film again.
My sixth grade teacher damn near got fired for assigning the book back in 1969. I remember her coming into class a couple of days after assigning it, almost in tears, telling us that the book was "inappropriate".

Ah, the good old days.

ETA: Needless to say, that was all it took to make sure I read it.

Last edited by PoorYorick; 03-05-2010 at 07:39 AM..
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  #31  
Old 03-05-2010, 08:44 AM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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My sixth grade teacher damn near got fired for assigning the book back in 1969.
Wow. What state was that in?
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  #32  
Old 03-05-2010, 08:56 AM
Crotalus Crotalus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HazelNutCoffee View Post
As an aside, the Korean translation of the book title amounts to "Killing Parrots." We use the same word for mockingbirds and parrots. As a teacher I've gotten questions about whether parrots are commonly seen in the wild in Alabama.
They used to be common. But not since the late 1800s.
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  #33  
Old 03-05-2010, 09:21 AM
PoorYorick PoorYorick is offline
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Wow. What state was that in?
This was in Oklahoma, which may explain a bit.
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  #34  
Old 03-05-2010, 10:55 AM
daveg daveg is offline
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Originally Posted by Hail Ants View Post
Just like to point out that Boo Radley was played by a very young Robert Duvall!
I believe it was his first movie.
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  #35  
Old 03-05-2010, 11:04 AM
CC CC is offline
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Wow. What state was that in?
The state of ignorance and fear, where many school boards reside.
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  #36  
Old 03-05-2010, 01:24 PM
CrazyCatLady CrazyCatLady is offline
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My 7th grade English teacher saw me reading it and wanted to make sure I checked with my parents to make sure they thought it was appropriate for me to read at that age. Not because of the racism, or the scapegoating and murder of an innocent man, or the attempted murder of two young children, or the old drug addict. No, what she was worried about was the fact that Tom was being tried for [distressed whisper]rape.[/distressed whisper]

The mind reels. But I can see how some people might think the book is a bit...heavy for the average 6th grader.
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  #37  
Old 03-06-2010, 06:37 PM
Jinx Jinx is offline
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Aside: My wife and I recently listened to the audio tape, and the story seemed twice as long with a bunch of extraneous stuff beyond the story we recall reading! For example, late in the audio book, the bit of Scout being a ham in a school play and Halloween? Also, late in the audio, Scout's brother's teacher makes a mention about the Holocaust? ...Also, Scout (I believe) being punished and must go read to some old lady? We don't recall any of this! Could there be an abridged version out there, or what?

Do other SDopers recall this?

Last edited by Jinx; 03-06-2010 at 06:38 PM.. Reason: Just a quickie...
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  #38  
Old 03-06-2010, 08:46 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
Aside: My wife and I recently listened to the audio tape, and the story seemed twice as long with a bunch of extraneous stuff beyond the story we recall reading! For example, late in the audio book, the bit of Scout being a ham in a school play and Halloween? Also, late in the audio, Scout's brother's teacher makes a mention about the Holocaust? ...Also, Scout (I believe) being punished and must go read to some old lady? We don't recall any of this! Could there be an abridged version out there, or what?

Do other SDopers recall this?
Some of this I remember from the book and some I don't. What I remember for sure is that the book has a lot more subplots than the movie.
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  #39  
Old 03-06-2010, 09:00 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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Originally Posted by suranyi View Post
Some of this I remember from the book and some I don't. What I remember for sure is that the book has a lot more subplots than the movie.
I have read the book just about every year since I was 12- about 30 years. Those subplots are certainly in the book. Jem reads to Mrs Duboise after killing her flowers. It was in retailiation for her making snide comments about Atticus.

The whole book is less specifically about Tom's trial but about the factors that influence Scouts coming of age.

Last edited by IvoryTowerDenizen; 03-06-2010 at 09:01 PM..
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  #40  
Old 03-06-2010, 10:48 PM
HazelNutCoffee HazelNutCoffee is offline
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I recently read the book and the Holocaust bit is in Scout's class - the kids are asked to present on a current issue and one of the kids does a presentation on Hitler. Scout is confused because her teacher denounces the Holocaust but at the same time makes racist remarks regarding the Robinson trial.
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  #41  
Old 03-07-2010, 04:42 AM
WotNot WotNot is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jinx View Post
Aside: My wife and I recently listened to the audio tape, and the story seemed twice as long with a bunch of extraneous stuff beyond the story we recall reading! For example, late in the audio book, the bit of Scout being a ham in a school play and Halloween? Also, late in the audio, Scout's brother's teacher makes a mention about the Holocaust? ...Also, Scout (I believe) being punished and must go read to some old lady? We don't recall any of this! Could there be an abridged version out there, or what?

Do other SDopers recall this?
The only thing I remember from the school scenes is some mention of the Dewey Decimal system, but then I haven't read the book since I was in school myself, and that's over thirty years ago.

I remember the other bits though. How could you forget the ham costume? It's part of the big dramatic scene at the end of the book, isn't it? And in the film?
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  #42  
Old 03-07-2010, 05:10 AM
kambuckta kambuckta is offline
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After cutting the tops off Mrs Dubois' flowers in a fit of pique, Jem is sent by Atticus (as a form of punishment) to read to Mrs Dubois every afternoon. The first day, the session lasts for 1/2 hour or so. The next day it lasts longer, and the days after longer again, but the reading sessions are always ended by Mrs Dubois lapsing into a slumber....Jem can then make his getaway!

Mrs Dubois is a morphine addict, and uses Jem and his reading as a way to help her get through the withdrawal process. On the last day of his reading program, the clock-alarm rings and Mrs Dubois (or her maid Jessie, I can't recall now) tells Jem he is no longer needed. Atticus later tells Jem (after Mrs Dubois has died) that she had requested that she be beholden to no person or no thing when she passed....getting through her morphine addiction allowed her to die a free woman.
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  #43  
Old 03-07-2010, 05:28 AM
Zoe Zoe is offline
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I can't remember the name of the little boy who comes to visit a relative nearby during the summers. (Was it Dill?) He was based on a real child in Harper Lee's life. The real child was Truman Capote.

Atticus was based on Harper Lee's father. She gave his watch to Gregory Peck. Gregory Peck's grandchild is named Harper.
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  #44  
Old 03-07-2010, 07:32 AM
wedgehed wedgehed is offline
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Originally Posted by HazelNutCoffee View Post
I recently read the book and the Holocaust bit is in Scout's class - the kids are asked to present on a current issue and one of the kids does a presentation on Hitler. Scout is confused because her teacher denounces the Holocaust but at the same time makes racist remarks regarding the Robinson trial.

I seriously doubt if the Holocaust is mentioned in To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee isn't that sloppy a writer. The story takes place during the 1930s. The extermination camps were not begun until 1942. Persecution - yes, concentration camps - OK, sterilization of the mentally handicapped - well known, but the mass killing of the Jews would not be publicized until the death camps were overrun at war's end.
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  #45  
Old 03-07-2010, 08:06 AM
Cub Mistress Cub Mistress is offline
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I can't remember the name of the little boy who comes to visit a relative nearby during the summers. (Was it Dill?) He was based on a real child in Harper Lee's life. The real child was Truman Capote.

Atticus was based on Harper Lee's father. She gave his watch to Gregory Peck. Gregory Peck's grandchild is named Harper.
Dill it is. I have a granddaughter named Harper for her middle name. I keep campaigning to call her Scout but haven't had much luck yet.
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  #46  
Old 03-07-2010, 08:21 AM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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I seriously doubt if the Holocaust is mentioned in To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee isn't that sloppy a writer. The story takes place during the 1930s. The extermination camps were not begun until 1942. Persecution - yes, concentration camps - OK, sterilization of the mentally handicapped - well known, but the mass killing of the Jews would not be publicized until the death camps were overrun at war's end.
there was a recent thread on this subject, with a quotation of the relevant passage: Questions about To Kill a Mockingbird.

Consensus in that thread was that was that the student making the report was referring to the persecution of Jews, mixed up with some reference to sterilization/eugenics.
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  #47  
Old 03-07-2010, 12:42 PM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Since this has become mainly a discussion of the book, rather than about the origin of the phrase, I am moving this to Cafe Society from GQ.

Colibri
General Questions Moderator
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  #48  
Old 03-07-2010, 01:37 PM
choie choie is offline
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As long as we're imparting trivia (e.g. Robert Duvall), the woman doing the voiceover in the film as adult Scout is Kim Stanley.

I too am astonished that anyone would forget the ham costume. It's the climax of the novel (and adds a grimly funny note to it), and visualized adorably on screen by Mary Badham and her bare legs sticking out of that outfit, which appears to be made of plaster of paris and chicken-wire.
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  #49  
Old 03-07-2010, 05:12 PM
Equipoise Equipoise is offline
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I too am astonished that anyone would forget the ham costume. It's the climax of the novel (and adds a grimly funny note to it), and visualized adorably on screen by Mary Badham and her bare legs sticking out of that outfit, which appears to be made of plaster of paris and chicken-wire.
Yep. The ham costume saved her life. After the school play, she couldn't find her dress and had to wear the costume home, or else walk home in her underthings. Looking for the dress made Jem and Scout among the last to leave, so there were no others on the path back home. Bob Ewell tried to cut Scout's throat with his knife but it only scraped against the wire in the ham costume. If she hadn't been wearing it she'd have died.
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  #50  
Old 03-07-2010, 05:39 PM
IvoryTowerDenizen IvoryTowerDenizen is offline
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Scout and Jem were the last to leave, with Scout remaining in her costume because Scout had humiliated herself in the patent. She fell asleep and missed her cue.
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