SparkNotes: To Kill a Mockingbird . Contents: Context; Plot Overview; Character List; Analysis of Major Characters; Themes, Motifs & Symbols (Chapters 1-31); Important Quotations Explained, Key Facts, Study Questions & Essay Topics, Quiz, Suggestions for Further Reading.
Writing about Lee's style and use of humor in a tragic story, scholar Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin states: "Laughter ... [exposes] the gangrene under the beautiful surface but also by demeaning it; one can hardly ... be controlled by what one is able to laugh at."  Scout's precocious observations about her neighbors and behavior inspired National Endowment of the Arts director David Kipen to call her "hysterically funny".  To address complex issues, however, Tavernier-Courbin notes that Lee uses parody , satire , and irony effectively by using a child's perspective. After Dill promises to marry her, then spends too much time with Jem, Scout reasons the best way to get him to pay attention to her is to beat him up, which she does several times.  Scout's first day in school is a satirical treatment of education; her teacher says she must undo the damage Atticus has wrought in teaching her to read and write, and forbids Atticus from teaching her further.  Lee treats the most unfunny situations with irony, however, as Jem and Scout try to understand how Maycomb embraces racism and still tries sincerely to remain a decent society. Satire and irony are used to such an extent that Tavernier-Courbin suggests one interpretation for the book's title: Lee is doing the mocking—of education, the justice system, and her own society—by using them as subjects of her humorous disapproval. 
To Kill a Mockingbird (SparkNotes Literature Guide Series)
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