The first episode I am going to discuss in Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ which is dramatic is in Chapter 6 where Jem, Scout and Dill go to the ‘Radley’ house. Harper Lee dramatises the situation in various ways. For example, tension is built when the children are going under the fence into the ‘Radley lot’: “Don’t make a sound,” Jem whispered “Don’t get into a row of collards whatever you do, they’ll wake the dead”. This builds tension, putting the reader on edge as it exposes how dangerous their situation is.
Harper Lee also uses onomatopoeia to dramatise the episode, for example where Dill says: “Sh-h. Spit on it, Scout. The “Sh-h” shows that they were in a dangerous situation so they had to be quiet, adding to the tension and drama. Furthermore it says “between two rows of swishing collards” which puts a more vivid picture of the atmosphere in the readers mind. When Jem, Scout and Dill return after going to the Radley house, they meet with their neighbours who are puzzled and frightened by the firing of the shotgun and Miss Rachel shouts ‘Do-o-o Jee-sus, Dill Harris! Gamblin’ by my fishpool? I’ll strip-poker you! ‘. This is dramatic because the use of informal words like ‘Do-o-o Jee-sus’ and ‘Gamblin’ help to portray Miss Rachel’s anger.
Scout says “He said he often woke up in the night, check on us, and read himself back to sleep”, referring to Atticus, while Jem went back to the ‘Radley house’ to get his trousers back. This builds tension and adds to the drama because it shows how the situation was risky for Jem and Scout. The second episode I am going to discuss is when Bob Ewell attacks Jem and Scout Finch on their way back from the pageant. There is a dramatic build up to the attack where the reader can sense something is going to happen due to the way Harper Lee builds dramatic tension; an example of this is: “Be quiet, he said, and I knew he was not joking”.
This is builds the tension because the reader, as well as Scout, then realises that Jem was being serious and not just trying to scare her into thinking something was following. Harper Lee creates dramatic tension because the reader has no idea who or what is following Scout and Jem until later on in the book. Thought the reader doesn’t know what is following, they can picture the scene well because of the descriptive text and the writing devices, for example: “Shuffle-foot had not stopped with us this time. His trousers swished softly and steadily. Then they stopped. He was running, running towards us with no child’s steps”.
Another example is where it says “What I thought was the sound of trees rustling was the soft swish of cotton on cotton, wheek wheek, with every step”. The ‘wheek wheek’ is an example of onomatopoeia being used to help dramatise the scene with helps the reader to create a more vivid picture of the scene in their mind. When Scout and Jem got home, Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley was also there. This is very dramatic because throughout the whole novel he was portrayed as a mysterious and violent maniac who was locked in the basement for everybody’s safety; however, at this point in the story he is in the same room as Jem and Scout.
As I said it, I half pointed to the man in the corner, but brought my arm down quickly lest Atticus reprimand me for pointing”. Scout realises that Boo Radley is not the bad person everybody in Maycomb made him out to be, because he helped Jem after the attack: “His lips parted into a timid smile and our neighbour’s image blurred with my sudden tears’. This is dramatic and it sends out a possible message that people should not always believe what they hear.