When reflecting on To Kill a Mockingbird, I have mixed feelings. I previously read the novel in eighth grade; however, after reading it again, I realize that I did not remember most of the storyline. When returning to this text, I feel slightly lost because I do not remember talking about any of the important themes or even the actual storyline in class when I read it the first time around. We did not discuss the significance of the trial, race relations, or falsely reported sexual assault. After reading it again, I feel like reading it at thirteen in a classroom setting is difficult because of the different places people are in their maturity, knowledge, and experiences. To Kill a Mockingbird was taught in a way where the difficult parts were glossed over and we spend a majority of our time talking about Boo Radley and his mysteriousness. We also spent a lot of time talking about the hidden gifts inside of the tree. I remember being told that this book was a classic and that it was very important, but we were never told what about it made it important. I do not have many fond memories regarding To Kill a Mockingbird solely because when someone had a question about a more mature part of the novel, the student was shut down and was told to ask a parent or the subject was changed. I do not understand why we would read a novel in school where teachers did not feel comfortable teaching the true occurrences and meanings of a novel and students could not ask questions when needed. What is different now when reading To Kill a Mockingbird is that I actually understand what is happening. I see the importance of the novel when it comes to the theme of race and the importance of a fair trial. Reading this novel in the context of a Literature and Law course, where we will actually discuss the major themes, makes far more sense than reading it in an eighth grade English class.
Self-Reflection in Death and the Maiden
The play, “Death and the Maiden” by Ariel Dorfman is a play that displays a lack of justice for the assault of the main character Paulina. Throughout the play, the audience sees her response to Roberto, and just how angry and vengeful she is towards him. The audience watching this conflict occur and unfold, can almost feel like the audience is a jury. We observe the situation at hand and form our own opinions and thoughts on it and decide what it is that we believe. At the very end of Act III before Paulina is supposedly about to shoot Roberto, there is a large mirror that descends from the ceiling and down in front of the audience in the stage directions. I think this is an interesting addition by Dorfman to this play, and really causes the audience and the readers of the play to think.
The use of the mirror at the end of the play, and the use of the spotlights flashing over random members of the audience before the epilogue I think is a powerful moment. The mirror represents self-reflection and causes the audience to think and literally forces them to look at themselves and think about their complacency to what has happened, as well as whether or not justice is being served. I think the complacency speaks to both what has happened to Paulina and whether or not we believe her and also to the fate of Roberto. The mirror falls right before what we would assume is when she shoots him, and the audience doesn’t get to see it. The mirror I think probably raises questions like how do they feel about what’s happening ? Were they accepting of and okay with Roberto being shot? Do they feel satisfied witnessing what has happened without knowing the outcome? This makes me think about the Me Too movement today, and the women who come forward with their stories and testimonies of the sexaul abuse they have faced, and the lack of belief people who heard their stories had in it and them. The use of mirrors in literature has always been symbolic of reflection and seeing oneself for what they truly are and what they truly think, which is no different in this play.