8 Mar 2013

GCSE Exam Answers To Kill a Mockingbird: Graded with Examiner's Comments

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How does Harper Lee presents Atticus as a role model to his children and also to the rest of Maycomb society?

Atticus is a respectful member of Maycomb society.  He is not racist or nasty towards anyone. He even treats people who dislike him and disagree with him with courtesy. You can tell this from the quotation, "Good evening Mrs Dubose.  You look a picture this evening".  He is being polite and is complimenting an older woman in Maycomb and respecting her.  He talks formally as he addresses her by "Mrs Dubose" not her first name, and this shows her respect.

Atticus is a great role model, and he teaches his children well.  Although he is a single parent, he brings up his children to know the rights from wrong.  This is shown in the quotation, "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mocking bird."  This is used by Harper Lee to make Atticus show his children mockingbirds are innocent, just like Tom Robinson, therefore they should not be punished when all they do is innocently sing.  Also I think that she used the quotation to prove that Atticus wants his children to think that they should not harm things that haven't harmed them.  Also Atticus says, "You never really understood a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk in it".  Harper Lee used this quotation cleverly, as she is making Atticus tell Scout to empathise, and give everyone and equal chance.  I think she wants the reader to pick up a lesson from the comment, and I also think she wants Atticus to make Scout grow up and mature by telling her one thing that’s important in life, giving everyone an equal chance and not just relying on first impressions or what she heard about someone.

Also I believe Atticus, as a single parent, wants the best for his children and is protective over them.  For example, he tells Jem, "There's a lot of ugly things in the world, son, I wish I could keep ‘em all away from you.  That’s never possible."  This is trying to teach Jem that there are bad things in the world and that you should not listen to what people always say. This quotation comes from the section about Atticus being a 'negro lover'.  He wants Jem to believe that what goes on in the world isn't always just but that he should stick to his belief in justice. The quotation, "You just hold your head high and keep those fists down," also shows Atticus caring about his children. In this case it's Scout as Scout is a strong believer in violence.  Atticus teaches her that violence isn't always the answer and she learns this as she matures near the end of the book.  Also the quotation, "I wanted you to see what real courage is instead of getting the idea it’s a man with a gun in his hand," is very significant as it teaches his children weapons are not the only way you can solve conflicts.  I think Harper Lee wanted the reader to feel Atticus was not only teaching his own children in the book, but also the reader as at many points in the book he makes reference to the rights and wrongs.  Also Harper Lee is showing a strong relationship between the children and their father as he is a firm but fair parent and the children seem to respect him more for this. For example, when Jem damages Mrs Dubose’s flowers, thinking he is supporting his father, Atticus makes him go and read to her. Jem learns that he will be punished when he does wrong but that the punishment has some meaning.

Atticus's best personality trait is he is a strong believer.  He knows what is right and what is wrong and he tries to reflect that onto others around him.  If he has different views to other white people, he will stick by them no matter what they say.  For example, the quotation, "but before I can live with other folk, I've got to live with myself” shows us Atticus is his own person with his own beliefs that he chooses to stick to throughout the book.  I think Harper Lee wanted to show Atticus in this way as it makes him a good role model.

Atticus also shows the reader he is loyal and gives everyone a chance.  The quotation, “Get some sleep Tom, they won't bother you anymore,” shows us he cares about Tom when the mob is trying to get him.  I think that Atticus is a good and brave man for protecting him and is also very loyal as he could have sided with the mob, but he believed that he could stand up and fight Tom Robinson’s case.  This also shows Atticus has courage that also reflects on his children, as they obviously respect and take after him for this.  Also the quotation, "we’re fighting our friends.  But no matter how big things get, they are still our friends and this is still our home." shows Atticus telling Scout that people may say he is defending a negro when they believe it to be wrong, but if you believe something is right, then no matter what others say you should follow your convictions.  

Harper Lee shows Atticus as a great role model to not only his children and Maycomb society, but also to the reader as she gives Atticus a personality that shows that he is a true gentleman.  He respects everyone, whilst earning everyone’s respect and this shows him as a good person throughout the book.  He teaches his children lessons in what to believe in life, having their own views and not listening to the majority of people, and he teaches his children not to be racist.  Atticus has courage, as he fights for what he believes is right, and this makes him come across as a brave person.

Harper’s writing techniques make you feel as if you really get to know what the type of person Atticus is, and it may make the reader aspire to be a person who is as respectful and courteous as Atticus.  She presents Atticus as an all round good man who you can respect.  I think Harper Lee sends out a message to the reader: to earn respect, you must give respect.

Overall, I believe that Atticus is a great role model to everyone he knows, including his children, Scout and Jem, and this shows the others in Maycomb society a man with an identity of a lawyer and a father can show everyone respect and he seems to get on well with everyone.  Personally, I think Harper has created a character that people will want to be like and this book may have reflected on the reader’s view of how they should treat others.


Commentary

The first section is a little disjointed almost as if the student is in a hurry to put down as many points as possible with support. Later the work becomes a little repetitive but the points made are valid. The focus of the essay seems wayward on occasion with the student more concerned with what the book teaches the reader. The final paragraph sums up the essay reasonably well. However, there is much to praise in this essay. The student constantly quotes from the text and her quotations are well chosen and supported by intelligent comment.  On the other hand, it is a little disorganised and does not stay firmly fixed on task. It would seem that the student has decided on her list of qualities and then given examples to support her points. She misses the chance to link the qualities to the reaction they inspire in the children. This is Band 4 work and deserves a mark of 29.   There is no doubt that the student’s engagement with text is good, however.

Task

Atticus Finch and Bob Ewell both live in Maycomb. Both are white men, both are parents and both are widowers. This is where the similarity ends. Discuss.

Atticus Finch and Bob Ewell are both important characters in the book. Atticus represents the good and upper class, whilst Bob Ewell represents the bad and the dirty people of the town. Atticus is a widower and a single parent who has two children while Bob Ewell is also a single parent who has many more children. We don’t meet all of Ewell’s children. We only hear about Mayella and Burris who are at the centre of two unpleasant incidents. Atticus is well respected, whilst Ewell doesn’t earn himself any respect because of his dishonest and trashy ways. The only people who respect Ewell are equally prejudiced people.

In the book, the way the two men treat their own children could not be more different. Atticus treats his children with great respect and he expects his children to be responsible, whilst Ewell neglects his children terribly. An example of Atticus raising his children with respect is when Scout says ‘Atticus has said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in.’ That shows he taught them to put other people before themselves. He wants his children to grow up the way he did and be positive and well respected by others.

Bob Ewell on the other hand did not teach this respect and this is shown in the way he has an incestuous relationship with his daughter. We find this out when Tom Robinson says that Mayella says ‘what her papa do to her don’t count.’ To do what Ewell did to his daughter is extremely disgusting and repulsive. Mayella is childish and does not know that if her parent rapes her it is as bad if not worse than anyone else doing it.

Atticus has had a good education and is very intelligent. Ewell on the other hand is not very intelligent at all as we can see when he makes errors in his testimony in the court scene. Atticus is a lawyer and the one that has to defend Tom Robinson who has been taken to court by Ewell. Atticus believes that Tom is innocent and the only reason he has been taken to court is because of his skin colour. This is because at the time in the southern states of America white people thought that they were above black people. Atticus though doesn’t believe this and wants to stick up for what is right which shows he has morals and strong beliefs. Ewell is lazy and when he had a job he lost it in a matter of days. ‘He was the only man I ever heard of who was fired from the WPA for laziness.’ As he does not have a job, he lives off the state and what he can find on the town dump which is near his home. Atticus is never ashamed of fighting for black people. Atticus is always around and has lots of respect from the black community as we see when they stand as he leaves the court house at the end of the trial and from the way the black congregation at Calpurnia’s church treat the children.

Although Atticus is well respected by everybody, when he defends Tom Robinson people start to think differently about him. Atticus does not care about what people think about him because he knows he is doing the right thing. Nobody has much respect for Ewell but they think they cannot be seen taking the side of a black man against a white man. The white man, however unpleasant he is, must be right. An example of Ewell’s trashy ways is when he spits at Atticus on the post office corner and tells him ‘he would get him if it took the rest of his life’. This shows that Ewell sets out to do evil. Atticus would never behave in this way. This is very similar to Atticus but for very different reasons. Atticus works for good and Ewell works for bad things.

Atticus abides by the law throughout the story. But at the end Atticus does not tell anybody that Boo Radley killed Ewell. He just says that Ewell fell onto the knife. The reason that Atticus doesn’t insist to the police that Boo killed Ewell is because Boo saved his children’s lives. Atticus is strong in his principles and believes that letting Boo off is for the greater good. This is because not only is Boo mentally disabled but also he is also so childlike that he is unaware how serious his crime is and in essence he is innocent. Ewell was totally different. He knows that he is wrong in raping his daughter and accusing Tom of the crime but he does not admit to it. He lies to the court as Atticus proves.

In conclusion Atticus is well educated, polite, responsible and law abiding, whilst Ewell is the opposite of these things. Both Atticus and Ewell are outsiders in the community. The one protects a black man, which was regarded as an unforgiveable thing while the other lives on the very edge of society and is disliked as an idle work-shy and dishonest wastrel. Throughout the novel Atticus is shown to the reader to portray light while Ewell is shown to be the dark one. Atticus is upright and brave whilst Ewell is shown to be a coward, taking out his anger against Atticus by trying to kill his children. They are very different characters.


Commentary

This essay is well rooted in text and the student has a clear idea of the distinction between the two men. She gives examples to support her points. However, the points she makes, while being correct, are fairly simple and there are issues she does not cover to any great extent. She has made reference to the cultural and historical situation in a sensible way without burdening the essay with a mass of unnecessary information. In terms of the criteria for assessment, the student: can select and evaluate textual details; can probe the text fairly confidently; can make a personal and critical response referring to specific aspects of structure; can convey her ideas clearly and appropriately; has a clear grasp of the social/cultural and historical context. This work deserves a Band 4 mark of 26.

Task

How does Harper Lee present Atticus as a role model to his children and also to the rest of Maycomb society?

At the beginning of the novel, Harper Lee portrays the character of Atticus as quite quiet and as though he keeps things to himself.  I think he grows to be a bigger character through out the novel.  The words Harper Lee decided to use to describe the way Atticus looks and acts really created an image in my head.  Throughout the novel, imagery is used, so we understand all we need to know about Atticus.  A lot of people have different opinions about Atticus.  Many of the opinions you remember because they change later in the novel.  Especially during the mad dog incident as Jem and Scout think of Atticus as 'feeble', which is shown not to be true as with one-shot Atticus kills the rabid dog Tim Johnson.  I think Atticus does change between his job and his family life.  As he has a more professional side during his job and then Atticus is more open and emotional at home.  I think Atticus is a role model for all.

Harper Lee presents Atticus as a role model for his children throughout the whole novel.  She especially does this by including lessons that the children need to learn.  All of the lessons are then later used in the novel.  The quotation, "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." symbolises what happens when Tom Robinson is shot. What Harper Lee tries to get across about "it's a sin to kill a mocking bird", is in my opinion that a mockingbird has never done anything to them so they shouldn't harm it.

The way Atticus is with the children isn't very traditional but it still works.  Atticus is fair but stern.  Even though the children aren't always in the right he still speaks to them as though they are.  However the children still understand they are not and learn from it.

The quotation "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view” uses repetition which emphasises that it is "you" that needs to do something.  I think towards the children Atticus' speech and lessons speak louder to them, than any actions would.  The reason for this is because they respect Atticus.

I think when the attack on Jem and Scout occurs Harper Lee really creates a father figure which Atticus plays.  She does this by writing that section of the novel with sympathy and passion.  I think during this part it really shows Atticus' sides because even though whilst he is at work it seems as though you wouldn't be able to crack him, the emotions when the attack happens are extravagant.

Harper Lee really finishes the novel with a great line "He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning."  I think this really sums up Atticus as a role model towards the children.

Harper Lee presents Atticus as a role model for Maycomb society throughout the whole novel.  The majority of this comes out during the trial of Tom Robinson.  He is portrayed as an honest and trustworthy man which is shown by the way he sticks with Tom Robinson.  A message is also put across the novel about not being prejudiced and not caring about what people say.

The quotation "Link, that boy might go to the chair, but he's not going till the truth's told." is a source of foreshadowing as we already have been told the truth but it has not yet been told to the characters in the novel.  Even though there are two communities Atticus doesn't see it that way and therefore speaks in a way which is equal towards everyone.  Harper Lee portrays him as honest to the whole of Maycomb Society and in my opinion it seems as though he is the rock which keeps Maycomb together.

Atticus seems to have an answer for everything and doesn't talk badly about anyone.
Harper Lee uses a metaphor in the quotation "That proves something - that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still human." as the lynch mob wasn't really a group of animals. It was just the way they acted.

During Atticus' summing up speech he uses repetition to emphasise that they know the truth about the case. He then goes on explaining what the truth is - "You know the truth, and the truth is this."

To everyone Atticus is trustworthy and well mannered.  He would never hurt anyone purposely.  He treats everyone equally and is shown throughout the novel.

Harper Lee writes Atticus' speech with inspiring messages throughout.  "I can't live one way in town and another way in my home."  Atticus hides his feelings sometimes, so that other people are not upset by them.  In my opinion Harper Lee really shows this during the quotation ‘ "It's not time to worry yet,” Atticus reassured him.’  Harper Lee doesn't just say, "he said", she says he “reassured” Jem which makes me think when I read it, that his tone of voice has changed.  

Harper Lee makes Atticus say "truth" and "equal" a lot which emphasises that, that these words are important to him. For example when he is in the courtroom, he says, "One more thing, gentlemen, before I quit.  Thomas Jefferson once said that all men are created equal, a phrase that Yankees and the distaff side of the Executive branch in Washington are fond of hurling at us.  There is a tendency in this year of grace, 1935, for certain people to use this phrase out of context, to satisfy all conditions.  The most ridiculous example I can think of is that the people who run public education promote the stupid and idle along with the industrious - because all men are created equal, educators will gravely tell you, the children left behind suffer terrible feelings of inferiority."

Also Harper Lee generalises people during the quotation "Some men make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others - some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of most men."

"But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal - there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockfeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president.  That institution, gentleman, is a court."  At the end of this quotation Atticus wraps everything up in a bow when he says, "is a court".  I think Harper Lee uses that phrase to open up everyone’s eyes and to make them think do they really know what is happening in that court.

I really think Harper Lee presents Atticus as a role model for his children and Maycomb society as a whole.  The reason for this is because of the quotation: "I can't live one way in town and another way in my home".  It really makes me think and portrays him as an honourable man who is sophisticated and loyal.  Harper Lee mentions aspects of his life throughout the novel which makes you impressed by the way he keeps his head up for his children and Maycomb society.

For poor Atticus, some things go wrong but he still manages to see the light at the end of it.  He is a great father, friend and lawyer and Harper Lee proves this throughout the novel.  If I could sum Atticus' feelings and beliefs up in one word, it would be, equality, as that is repeated throughout the novel and I think it relates to him well.


Commentary

In the early stages, the essay is assertive and generally vague. The student could have improved this part of the essay with more direct reference to text. She includes a vital quotation but it does not fit very comfortably within the general structure of the essay at this stage. The evidence is provided to a limited extent but she does not investigate it fully in relation to the text. The point regarding actions and speech is not convincing since Atticus’s actions do speak loudly and there is a collapse of logic at this point. The student then considers Maycomb society, correctly homing in on the trial as being central to Atticus’s effect on people’s views and morals. Assertion reappears and it is a pity that the student does not support her argument here since the point is good. The reference to the ‘lynch mob’ could have been developed. There is some generalised work on language later in the essay but it does not clearly relate to the points she appears to be making. She then launches into a very long quotation from the trial without putting the words into context. This continues into the paragraph which follows but she does not make her (good) point very clearly. She concludes with a repeat quotation and more assertion and generalisation.
It is clear that the student knows the novel well and has a good grasp of Atticus’s character. The problem with the essay is organisation. To gain high marks, points need to be supported by close reference to text. There is little sense of structure here apart from the fact that the student breaks the work up into two fairly well defined sections. The essay relies on assertion and the support from the text is not necessarily the most suitable for the points she is making. While the knowledge base is good, the organisation and selection is weak. The essay belongs in Band 3 with a mark of 22.