If I asked anyone for an incident of human injustice, whether the slaughter of an innocent person or prejudice against a race, they could give me at least one. But, they most likely would not know where a mockingbird could possibly come in. That is what I will explain. There are many different examples of conflict in To Kill a Mockingbird, such as discrimination against the colored people, Scout—the protagonist of the story—against her schoolteacher, Miss Caroline, and the internal conflict Scout has with herself.
A consistent theme throughout To Kill a Mockingbird is the discrimination against the colored race. “‘It ain’t right, Atticus,’ said Jem. ‘No son, it’s not right.’” (Lee, 248) This exchange of dialogue is spoken by Jem and his father, Atticus. Atticus, a lawyer, had just finished arguing a case ng a colored man, and lost. This shows that some people believed in fairness and equality over others, but the majority of people at the time still prejudiced the black race. “Tom Robinson’s a colored man, Jem. No jury in this part of the world’s going to say, ‘We think you’re guilty, but not very,’ on a charge like that. It was either a straight acquittal or nothing.” (250) This is a continuation of their discussion on the trial. Atticus alludes that it was hopeless for him to try to defend Tom Robinson. Even if he was not guilty, he still would lose simply because he was black. “In our courts, when it’s a white man’s world against a black man’s, the white man always wins. They’re ugly, but those are the facts of life.” Even though some aspects of racism still exist today, it makes me very glad that we have evolved so much. In places I am familiar with, such as the United States of America, courts will never guarantee wins for the white race when facing the black race. Instead, the innocent side will win regardless of their skin color. Because To Kill a Mockingbird is historical fiction, all the events are more or less accurate. Set in the 1930s, discrimination against colored people were at a high point. People even used the phrase “last hired and first fired” towards blacks. It was during the Great Depression too, so jobs were even harder to find in the first place. At the time, a black man could be charged for highly inappropriate sexual advances for just making eye contact with a white woman. Many African Americans were also lynched. Lynching meant to kill someone by hanging because of an alleged offense, with or without a trial. It was a horrible and unjust procedure, but at the time it seemed reasonable because of discrimination and prejudice.
Another example of conflict is the disagreement and arguments Scout has with her schoolteacher, Miss Caroline. Miss Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me any more, it would interfere with my reading.” (19) On Scout’s first day of first grade, her teacher tells her not to learn outside of school. Maybe it made sense at that time, but today, I cannot name a single student who does not take classes outside of school. Learning with your teachers at school is crucial, but it can be helpful to strengthen some subjects and concepts or try to understand them better with a tutor. “It’s best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him I’ll take over from here and try to undo the damage-” (19) I do not understand what message Miss Caroline is supposed to be giving in this piece of dialogue. Why is it better to begin reading with a “fresh mind”? What is a “fresh mind”? Perhaps, she means to only begin learning to read in the first grade. I personally disagree, and think that it can be better to have some experience beforehand. “We don’t write in the first grade, we print. You won’t learn to write until you’re in the third grade.” (21) Writing is definitely more difficult than printing, and also a harder skill to learn. My advice to Miss Caroline would be to allow first graders who already know how to write to learn a little more writing to prepare them for higher grades, while those who do not know can work more on their printing. In the book Matilda, intelligence is also looked down upon, especially by her parents. I personally think that is very strange. There are a few differences, though. In Matilda by Roald Dahl, Miss Honey is a brilliant teacher compared to Miss Caroline. It is Matilda’s parents who do not believe their daughter has the smarts. Matilda is a genius, with an academic level that is beyond her age like Scout, but in both books there are people trying to push that down and tells them that it will impact her academics and education negatively.
The final example of conflict is the internal conflict Scout has with herself. “I drew a bead on him, remembered what Atticus had said, then dropped my fists and walked away, ‘Scout’s a cow-ward!’ ringing in my ears. It was the first time I ever walked away from a fight.” (87) By here, I feel like Scout has already grown a bit from how she was at the very beginning. Her father had taught her more about empathy and trying to see things from different points of views, and she knows how to control herself better. “‘You don’t care what happens to him,’ I said. ‘You just send him on to get shot at when all he was doin’ was standin’ up for you.’” (120) Something Scout regularly has trouble understanding is why her father seemingly lets everyone push him around. Atticus scolds her for fighting even when she was only trying to defend him. She also believes he has the best shot out of everyone in Maycomb, and fails to grasp the reason why her father never uses that skill. “Who was the ‘her’ they were talking about? My heart sank: me.” (155) Scout may seem like a tough, smart, perhaps even tomboyish young girl, but underneath that strong appearance, she does doubt herself at times. She wants to defend her father yet simultaneously make him proud, and tries to gain a better understanding of the world around her as well. In the example, she does not actually know who the adults were talking about, but immediately assumes that it is her. I feel that I, like Scout, also have internal conflict with myself. Scout’s main conflict is getting angry at those who make fun of or badmouth her father, and she often has trouble controlling herself from arguing or fighting with those who do. Although others usually do not speak badly of the people I care about, they more often insult some things I like or that I am a fan of. This sometimes makes me annoyed or angry, and I try very hard to control myself and not yell at them. I use my words more than fists when arguing, and I probably wouldn’t even be able to throw a good punch, but words can be very powerful too.
The title of the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is a metaphor. I find it quite interesting and very fitting. Atticus Finch—an ironic name, as a finch is a kind of songbird—says “…remember, it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” (103), on which Miss Maudie adds “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.” (103). My interpretation of this is the mockingbird is Tom Robinson. He didn’t do anything wrong, but the court still punished him just because of his race. The metaphor is for innocence and human justice. It is also obviously where the title comes from. There are many examples of conflict To Kill a Mockingbird, with the main ones being discrimination against the African-American race in the 1930s, Scout against Miss Caroline, and the internal conflict Scout has against herself. On a final note, always remember it is a sin to kill a mockingbird
This afternoon we had a trail run posting an audio file onto our blogs. James played a piece for us on the drums. Have a listen.
Parents of different cultures have different ways of teaching, but one similarity between them all is the unconditional love for their children. All mothers, whether biological or adoptive, play a vital role in her children’s life. They are by their side as they grow up, and teach them ideas, beliefs, and ways of life teachers would never be able to. The mother of Waverly is very strict and believes in the traditional Chinese ways, but still shows her daughter tough love. All these characteristics of the mother are shown through different pieces of dialogue and sentences from the excerpt Rules of the Game, by Amy Tan.
Like how most stereotypical Chinese parents are reflected in various forms of media, Waverly’s mother is extremely strict. “Bite back your tongue,” scolded my mother when I cried loudly, yanking her hand toward the store that sold bags of salted plums.” (Tan, 1) The harsh words and actions Waverly’s mother use shows how strict she is. Unlike other mothers who spoil their children and buy them whatever they want, Waverly’s mother knows how to say no. Although, she isn’t a bad mother and after her daughter learns to not whine and cry for everything she wants, the mother buys her a bag of the salted plums as a reward. “When we got home, my mother told Vincent to throw the chess set away.” (2) Instead of asking for her son to throw the chest set away, the mother seemingly orders him to do it. “My mother’s eyes turned into dangerous black slits. She had no words for me, just sharp silence.” (5) Sometimes, silence is worse than loud, angry words. Waverly describes her mother’s eyes as “dangerous black slits”, something that seems fit for a monster. Though her mother is silent, Waverly is scared by her eyes alone. My mother, like Waverly’s, is also Chinese, and she can be very stern at times as well. For example, she makes me do all my homework first as soon as I get home, as well as finish all my other responsibilities before doing other things. Some people may find it annoying, but I, on the contrary, actually think it is helpful. Because she taught me how to manage my time at a young age, I’ve fallen into a routine of doing my work as soon as possible after school, which will also help me in my future.
Waverly’s mother believes in traditional Chinese culture, and many of their ideas influence her choices as well as what she says. “Wise guy, he not go against wind. In Chinese we say, Come from South, blow with wind-poom!-North will follow. Strongest wind cannot be seen.” (1) Though I have never heard of it, it can be possible that this is a traditional Chinese proverb, which the mother has learned and wishes to teach it to her daughter. “Chinese people do many things,” she said simply. “Chinese people do business, do medicine, do painting. Not lazy like American people. We do torture. Best torture.” (2) Here, Waverly’s mother seems proud of the Chinese, and feels that they are superior to the Americans. “It was her chang, a small tablet of red jade which held the sun’s fire. ‘Is luck,’ she whispered, and tucked it into my dress pocket.” (4) Many different cultures, including the Chinese, have different baubles and such that supposedly bring good luck. For the mother, it is this red jade chang. As a person of Chinese descent, I know a lot about the cultures and sayings the Chinese have. One of the important people in Chinese history is Confucius, and a lot of his sayings and teachings have been turned into proverbs. We study lots of them in Chinese, which I honestly sometimes think is tiring, but they aren’t useless. It is quite interesting to learn such ancient words that are filled with meaning.
Underneath her strict demeanor and seemingly old fashioned Chinese ways, Waverly’s mother loves her daughter, even if it is tough love. “My mother imparted her daily truths so she could help my older brothers and me rise above our circumstances.” (1) Waverly’s mother is aware of the world her children live in, and because she loves them, she works hard so they can rise up and have a better life when they grow up. “Each morning before school, my mother would twist and yank on my thick black hair until she had formed two tightly wound pigtails.” (1) My mother used to do this for me as a child, and even though it hurt and I sometimes cried, I knew she was trying to make me look presentable and not have the nest-like hair I had when I got out of bed. “My mother would proudly walk with me, visiting many shops, buying very little. ‘This my daughter Wave-ly Jong,’ she said to whoever looked her way.” (5) Even in a slightly show-off way, Waverly’s mother is very proud of her daughter. She loves Waverly, and is proud of her achievements, so proud that she wants practically everyone to know. In a book I read recently called Jasper Jones, the mother, like Waverly’s, is also very strict. There are many connections between her mother and Charlie, the protagonist of the book’s mother. Because of the dangerous events going on in Jasper Jones, Charlie’s mother is overprotective of her son. She doesn’t even let him go outside alone to the library, which may seem a bit overboard. But nothing is more important to a mother than her own children, and she will go to the ends of the world to protect them, even in ways that seem unusual or too strict.
It is very difficult to be a mother. Though it may not be my place to speak as a daughter, seeing how hard my mother works to provide a good environment and life for my brother and I, the job of a mother is the hardest one of all. Waverly’s mother and millions of other women in the world have this job. She specifically is very strict and believes in traditional Chinese ways, but deep down still loves her daughter very much. Tough love is still love, much better than the so-called love parents who spoil their children have. If you are a child, tell your mother and your father you love them. A few meaningful words can go a very long way. If you are a mother or a father, tell your children you love them. They may not realize it. The greatest love does not belong to a boyfriend and his girlfriend, or perhaps even a husband and his wife. It belongs to a mother and her child.
My first week in 8th grade was pretty good. I am in the same class as my best friend, which is really great. The new teachers I have this year are also really nice, and I like all of them. Although some of my friends left, all of my close ones are still here, so I am happy about that. The only thing I’m not super glad about is I seem to be the least experienced person in my Chinese class, but that just means I have to work harder. I also need to practice organizing my time better with the instruments I play.
- What are you looking forward to learning in grade 8 this year?
I’m looking forward to learning more about writing in Humanities this year, especially writing stories and raising the level of my writing. I also want to learn more about important revolutions in history, like the Chinese Revolution and American Revolution.
- What challenges will you face?
I need to learn how to manage my time better, especially in the later parts of the year when we have a larger work load. I need to balance my school life with my home life.
- What is your plan to meet those challenges?
I will start my homework as soon as I get home, then do all the other things I need to do, like practice my instruments, before having free time and doing my own things. If I have lots of extra time I will try to better the work that I have already completed.
For my very first One Day in middle school, my friend Katie Kim and I created 3 science experiments. The first one was Traveling Water, the second was Elephant Toothpaste, the third and last one was Mentos & Coke, Sprite and Fanta. We took notes and photos of each experiment, and we plan to present our project with a PowerPoint. I chose this for my One Day project because one of my passions is doing cool and interesting experiments. Also, science is not one of my particularly good subjects at school, so I could improve my skills some with this project. Although some parts didn’t go exactly as planned, everything worked fine. Also, it was fun, and we both learned about chemical reactions and other things. So my first One Day was a success.