To Kill a Mockingbird: Critical Analysis Essay

Discussion
Feb 18, 2016
Channels

Femininity In the 1930’s vs Today

When you think of a ‘feminine’ woman, what comes to mind? In To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s classic novel, Scout struggles with being who she wants to be because of the influence of those around her in regards to femininity. Her brother pushes her to be less feminine and discourages anything he considers to be ‘girly’, and the women of Maycomb, especially her Aunt Alexandra, push her to be more feminine so that she will fit in. This leaves Scout not knowing how to act, because either way she will be upsetting someone. Girls and women are not held to the same expectation of femininity or being ‘feminine’ as they were in the 1930’s.

In the 1930’s, when To Kill a Mockingbird was set, women were expected to be extremely feminine. According to Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of femininity is: Having qualities traditionally considered to be suitable for a woman. In the 1930’s, this meant wearing dresses, acting ‘proper’, and having good manners. Scout challenges these roles by wearing jeans, and instead of playing with dolls, she plays with her brother outside.In the novel, Mrs. Dubose says to Scout, “What are you doing in those overalls? You should be in a dress and camisole young lady! You’ll grow up waiting on tables if someone doesn’t change your ways...”(Lee, 130). This quote shows the view of the women of Maycomb if Scout wasn’t ‘feminine’. They seem to believe that the worst thing that could happen to Scout was if she was to get a job.

The views of femininity now are drastically different than they were in the 1930’s. Firstly, the way women dress on an everyday basis has completely changed. Women then wore dresses everyday, and felt that they always needed to look their best. Now, it is much more common for women to wear pants as casual attire, and dresses are saved for more special occasions. Also, the 1930 census showed that only 24.3 percent of women worked, but now that number has more than doubled, with 57 percent of all women having a job in the labor force. This shows how different the opinions of femininity were, because in the 1930’s, women thought that having a job was very masculine, and that only women who didn’t wear dresses or act ‘feminine’ would have to get a job. Now, about half of Americans working are women, and that number continues to grow.

In conclusion, society’s definition of what it means to be feminine has changed since To Kill a Mockingbird was set. Women can dress more casually, and having a job is no longer something that is discouraged. They have more freedom to act or dress how they want, without being persuaded to change, like Scout was. I hope in the future, women can continue to be able to act as ‘feminine’ as they want to.

Comments

Yeah this is very true. I

Submitted by tina188 on Thu, 2016-02-18 22:05.

Yeah this is very true. I like how you added the statistics about working women. And yes, the 'standards' for women have changed but there are still some traits considered to be feminine. Like the color pink and so forth.

Dear Caitlin Farra : One

Submitted by anastasia_tieng on Fri, 2016-03-04 12:32.

Dear Caitlin Farra :

One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: " Also, the 1930 census showed that only 24.3 percent of women worked, but now that number has more than doubled, with 57 percent of all women having a job in the labor force " I think this is delusional because this show you how a women can be work hard no matter what the situation they are being put into.

Another sentence that I thought was: "This shows how different the opinions of femininity were, because in the 1930’s, women thought that having a job was very masculine, and that only women who didn’t wear dresses or act ‘feminine’ would have to get a job.." This stood out for me because it shouldn't matter how you dress to work.

Your letter reminds me of something that women would have to deal with nearly almost all the time. All girls have to deal with something that we don't want to deal with even though it can get hard.

Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because this letter was amazing.

Dear Caitlin Farra : One

Submitted by anastasia_tieng on Fri, 2016-03-04 12:32.

Dear Caitlin Farra :

One sentence you wrote that stands out for me is: " Also, the 1930 census showed that only 24.3 percent of women worked, but now that number has more than doubled, with 57 percent of all women having a job in the labor force " I think this is delusional because this show you how a women can be work hard no matter what the situation they are being put into.

Another sentence that I thought was: "This shows how different the opinions of femininity were, because in the 1930’s, women thought that having a job was very masculine, and that only women who didn’t wear dresses or act ‘feminine’ would have to get a job.." This stood out for me because it shouldn't matter how you dress to work.

Your letter reminds me of something that women would have to deal with nearly almost all the time. All girls have to deal with something that we don't want to deal with even though it can get hard.

Thanks for your writing. I look forward to seeing what you write next, because this letter was amazing.

I really like your writing in

Submitted by oliviamartha on Sun, 2016-03-20 14:20.

I really like your writing in this analysis. You make some really great points, and I think your idea comes across. Specifically, I liked that you did some research and found out about the 1930 census. Statistics are always a convincing way to back up your thesis. Your conclusion also sums up all your ideas, and your last sentence is an interesting way to relate the book to today's times. Great job!

Great use of facts and

Submitted by becca_hen87 on Sun, 2016-03-20 17:17.

Great use of facts and quotes! This article was very well done! I especially liked how you defined what feminine meant, and then compared it over time.

Hi Caitlin! First, I wanted

Submitted by biancar on Sun, 2016-03-20 23:09.

Hi Caitlin!
First, I wanted to commend you on your choice of topic! It was interesting reading about how femininity was defined in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Second, I think you did a really good of supporting your thesis. You were very detail oriented, and the organization was good and easy to follow.

Good Job!

Submitted by MaddiePorter on Sun, 2016-03-20 23:27.

Your essay is well put together and very coherent! I really enjoyed all the facts about how women's expectations have changed over the years. Your analysis on Scout and her expectations is great. Keep up the good work.

First off I agree 100% of

Submitted by DMusci33 on Mon, 2016-03-21 01:04.

First off I agree 100% of everything you said. Women in the 1930s had drastically different expectations compared to nowadays, although society wanting femininity is still very high. Most people will look at a women who wears a suit, over a dress or skirt, to be more serious or in some cases unfit. I love the use of statistics in the end of the discussion. It really helps tie all of your arguments together and add an element that you couldn't find in just To Kill a Mockingbird

First off I agree 100% of

Submitted by DMusci33 on Mon, 2016-03-21 01:04.

First off I agree 100% of everything you said. Women in the 1930s had drastically different expectations compared to nowadays, although society wanting femininity is still very high. Most people will look at a women who wears a suit, over a dress or skirt, to be more serious or in some cases unfit. I love the use of statistics in the end of the discussion. It really helps tie all of your arguments together and add an element that you couldn't find in just To Kill a Mockingbird