Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chapter 4-5: Why do Jem and Dill exclude Scout?

Scout is four years younger than her brother Jem, and in typical older brother fashion he often bosses her around. Despite, or perhaps because of this, Scout looks up to Jem and she never questions him. She does what he tells her, and she wants to please him. When Scout discovers the piece of chewing gum in the tree on Boo Radley's yard, she munches on it happily until Jem comes along and tells her to "Spit it out right now!" Scout spits it out."The tang was fading anyway."

On top of ordering her around, Jem also gives Scout misinformation and tells her fictional tales that she willingly, (but naively) believes. When Jem tells Scout and Dill about Hot Steams, for once Scout stands up to him by telling Dill, "Don't you believe a word he says." Jem "scowls darkly" at Scout, and she promptly receives pay-back from Jem when he forcefully rolls her down the hill in the tire. "I did not realize that Jem was offended by my contradicting him on Hot Steams, and that he was patiently awaiting an opportunity to reward me." 'Reward,' in this sense, meaning violently push down a hill in a hot, cramped rubber tire.

Scout has felt the sting of exclusion before, when at school Jem demands that she "stick with the first grade and he would stick with the fifth." The summer is the time when Jem and Scout can freely play together, when they are equal. This summer, however, is different from previous ones. For the first time the issue of Scout being a girl comes up, and Dill and Jem begin leaving her out of their games and telling her to "go away." Scout spends more time with Miss Maudie, but when Dill and Jem require Scout to play a part in their Boo Radley game, she obliges. This is another time where Scout firmly contradicts Jem. Jem thinks it's okay to continue playing the Boo Radley game, because "Atticus didn't say we couldn't." Jem tells Scout she's just being a girl, imagining things, and that's why everyone hates girls. On the threat of not being allowed to play with them because she's a girl, Scout continues to participate in the Boo Radley game, but her instincts strongly tell her not to. Eventually Atticus comes along and stops the game, yet Jem yells rudely after him when he is gone. Both Jem and Scout almost never disobey Atticus. Why does Jem feel suddenly entitled to play the Boo Radley game, despite the warnings from his father, and why do the children have this obsession with playing the game? Why does Scout let Jem boss her around, and why does she go along with the game even when she knows it is wrong? Finally, what is the reason that this summer is different, and Dill and Jem decide to exclude Scout? 

3 comments:

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  2. Excluding Scout from the games may be a sign that she is growing up and starting to develop a conscience. Even though she knows that participating in the activities (games and plans) is wrong, she is in a few ways, forced and pressured into performing the task. I believe that if Scout was able to use her voice and speak up against her brother, she would. Dill and Jem beginning to exclude Scout may be a foreshadow onto what could happen to Scout. Maybe the reason for not including Scout as much, may be due to the fact that Dill wants control and can only control one person who can control another. I think that if Dill did not have so much "power" over Jem, then Scout would be included more often. Also, at the end of Chapter 4, Jem told Scout that "girls always imagined things and that's why other people hated them." I imagine that the boys just believe that Scout just "imagines" so many things that the boys don't want to deal with, which made them exclude Scout more.

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  3. I think that part of why Scout is being excluded is because she is a girl. She mentions that being called a girl is an insult. Her best friends are Jem and Dill, and the only thing that sets her apart from them is her gender. By nature, Scout is more thoughtful than them, and so she is less willing to take risks like playing the Boo Radley game. This gets mistaken for weakness and being "girly". She and Jem are also not equals. Jem has power over her because he is older. Scout seems to be a person who doesn't particularly like confrontation, like when she said, "Rather than risk a tangle with Calpurnia, I did as Jem told me." She didn't want an argument with either Jem or Calpurnia, both of whom have a certain amount of power over her. Although Scout seems frustrated with being occasionally ignored and/or excluded, she does not argue, because if she did, she might not be allowed to play at all.

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