This GCSE English Literature quiz challenges you on language in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Language in To Kill a Mockingbird presents an interesting mix of local dialects, the speech patterns of children and the more complex narration of the grown-up Scout. Colourful language derived from dialect and spoken through the simple diction of a child results in some striking poetic effects. Rhetorical techniques feature heavily, especially influenced by the religious context of Maycomb and the legal concerns of the plot. Scout is even mockingly asked by Miss Stephanie at one point whether she wants to be a lawyer when she grows up.
Language is the primary medium through which a reader is able to understand a text.
Visual elements such as layout, font and any illustrations are all important. Although these have an effect on our understanding and interpretation of a text, written texts could not, by definition, exist without words.
Authors use language with great care. Each word has its literal meaning; beyond the literal meaning lies a weight of symbolic meanings and other associations. Imagery, such as metaphor, simile and personification, and other literary effects are all created through language. Authors also depend on their skilful use of language to create dialogue, setting and characterisation.
Pay close attention to language choices in a text. Your efforts will be repaid with deeper understanding. Linger over words in order to get beyond the surface meaning. What does the language suggest? Does it cause you to think about anything else? Remember that the author has put great care into choosing the language. This means that you should also devote care to your analysis. Taking time to think about language choice will help you to decipher the text’s deeper meanings.
Answer the questions below to develop your understanding of the way language choices affect our interpretation of a text.
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