3.4 Critical Review- The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale- Margaret Atwood

One of the strongest and most valuable themes and messages that is demonstrated in this narrative is the importance of freedom of values and humanity as a whole. This novel is seen as a somewhat warning by Margaret Atwood of what could be if we continue as we are.It is stating how the future may pan out if we don’t put an end to our ways. If we don’t start reflecting on how society and humanity has begun to evolve then there will be vicious repercussions. “A mistake repeated more than once is a decision” this is the case in how humanity does not seem to learn from the mistakes it has created.  In The Handmaid’s Tale written by Margaret Atwood, we are taken through the eyes of Offred, who is the protagonist of the novel. The Handmaid’s Tale focuses on a totalitarian theocratic regime that takes away power from women. In the republican society known as “Gilead” women no longer have any control, any freedom or any rights. They are denied to be who they used to be as well as being controlled and governed by men. Their identity has been forgotten and they are to live as nothing but a face, trying to steal back what was stolen from them.

This book in itself creates a terrifying yet accurate ordeal of the future. The book is short on developing characterisation, with only few but important characters and holds onto the idea of cynicism. It sets a dark scene of a fixed feminist perspective of an apocalypse. Freedom of values is something that all should be able to hold onto, not something where it should be stripped away. The value of a name, an identity, a life and a vision, these are what are taken and lost in The Handmaid’s Tale. Details of Atwood’s newly formed anti-Utopia state are seen in other novels that express the same ideas, such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World in 1932 and George Orwell’s 1984. Those two novels have come to be seen as fiercely moral tracts that jarred their readers to awaken them. Will Atwood, as different from Huxley and Orwell as they were from each other, join them in the accepted ranks of those disguised idealists who image the future as a nightmare in order that it may remain just that of a fantasy?

Last Part:

The main reason hat Atwood wrote the handmaid’s tale was to make us think about how the world would be viewed in years to come. Almost seen as some sort of warning of the foundation that humanity would eventually sit upon as well as act. Also how people would convey information, and that racial oppression could lead to a rebellion and the shifts in morals

Was concerned about the 1980’s debates on feminist attitudes, specifically toward sexuality and pornography. Feminists protesting against the demanding nature or pornography were unnerved by religious groups seeing to ban pornography in order to “protect women” This idea of religious zealots restricting women’s freedom for “protective” reasons is quite prominent in Atwood’s work.

Narrative Structure

What do you notice about the use of present and past tense? Of speech marks? Of capital letters?

Very little actually happens in Offred’s story. Why is this appropriate to the themes of the novel?

What is the strength of this type of narrative structure? Why is this appropriate and more effective than a straightforward narrative would be?

What is the point of view of this novel? What is the effect of this point of view on this story? How reliable is the narrator?  The novel is told in the point of view of the Offred, who is a handmaid. She is telling it from her perspective of what is taking place and how she is seeing the account of events. Although this may be reliable, she could have twisted the actual truth and told what she wanted to see and tell rather than the raw account of events that actually took place. It is told only through her eyes

How reliable is the narrator?


Allusion’s Sheet

Biblical Allusions are a reference within a literary work to a story, idea, or event that is related in the Bible or other biblical writings.

Jezebels is the name given to the secret brothel where certain women are sent to work as prostitutes under the Republic of Gilead. The women sent to Jezebel’s are usually rebellious women who are offered the choice between Jezebel’s and the Colonies.

Rachel and Jacob. Rachel is first revealed in the Hebrew Bible in Genesis 29 when Jacob arrives as she is about to water her father’s flock. She was the second daughter of Laban, Rebekah’s brother. Jacobhad travelled a far in order to find Laban. Rebekah had sent him there to be safe from his furious twin brother, Esau.

Gilead is referring to a mountainous region east of the Jordan River divided among the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh which is situated in modern-day Jordan.

Freud and his theories – ‘Penis Envy’ Penis envy is a period that was speculated by Sigmund Freud talking about female psychosexual development, where young girls experience anxiety when they realise that they do not have a penis. The parallel reaction of a boy’s realisation that women do not have a penis is castration anxiety.

Marxism is the political and economic theories of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, which was later developed by their followers to shape the beginning of communism. There was always a hierarchy 

George Orwell’s 1984-

Why has Atwood included Allusions in the text? What do they tell us about Offred and Gilead?

Where is the novel set?- The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian novel set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian, Christian theonomy that has overthrown the United States government.

In which contemporary geographical place is Gilead located? Cite evidence-Gilead is referring to a mountainous region east of the Jordan River divided among the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh which is situated in modern-day Jordan.

What contemporary university is referred to? Give information about this
university. Why is its inclusion important? Harvard is the university that is mentioned. It is a private university located in Massachusetts.  17,000 Puritans migrated to New England by 1636, Harvard was founded in anticipation of the need for training clergy for the new commonwealth, a “church in the wilderness”.

What are we told about the world outside of the house/Gilead? What is the
significance of that?

Make notes on the following areas of the Commander’s house, using quotes to support your comments: Offred’s room (Chapter 2 and 9); The garden; The sitting room (Ch. 14), The Commander’s study (Ch. 23)

Offred’s Room: At the start, it is set in a gymnasium and they have to sleep in army cots. The women are forbidden to speak. The scene then changes to be in the present and Offred now lives in room fitted with curtains, a pillow, a framed picture and a braided rug. There is no glass in the room though. Even on the picture that is framed. The window doesn’t open fully and the windowpane is shatterproof 

The Garden: There are two observations of nature ‘opening’ which contrast the restrictiveness of the household where Offred lives. The same word, ‘opening’, is used by Offred in chapter 27 when she feels that she and Ofglen have achieved some ‘real communication’, and states that ‘hope is rising in me, like sap in a tree.’ The garden as a whole represents “an impulse for life that cannot be denied” Offred also explains to the reader what her experience was like with her own garden before she became a handmaid. She said she remembers “the smell of the turned earth, the plump shades of bulbs held in the hands, fullness, the dry rustle of seeds through the fingers”

Commander’s Study:

The Sitting Room: Offred describes the sitting room as “weirdly, domestically furnished and reflecting a great deal of wealth”

Make notes on Jezebel’s. Focus upon the contrast with the rest of the Gilead
settings (Ch. 37)
Research a Totalitarian regime, either one that is contemporary or historical.

How does Gilead echo this setting?


Control is the overriding theme presented within the novel, but there are subsets of this theme. Using the subsets below, find three examples (using quotations and list the page reference) that highlight each idea.

  • Control of thought
  • Control of women
  • Control of movement
  • Control of sexuality
  • Control through fear

Closely analyse one section of the text that shows ONE theme and discuss how it encapsulates the theme (photocopy and annotate this)

Characters- Major Characters
The Commander
Serena Joy

Facts, for example – Offred is 33 years old, has had a daughter…
Actions, for example – Offred capitulates to the regime because she is too afraid for her daughter to protest
Adjectives/Phrases – Offred is educated (university graduate; good job
in the library)
Conclusions/overall description – for example; The whole story is told
from Offred’s point of view, She is not a hero; she is passive

Facts- Aged in her 40’s. Serena Joy is the wife of commander Fred, who is using Offred to be able to obtain a child of her own, as she is unable to conceive. Offred states that her real name is actually Pam.  She also smokes cigarettes (which is a banned object)

Actions- Finds out that Offred has been having an emotional affair with the commander and she furiously confronts her. She offers Offred cigarettes and information on her daughter to be able to get a child of her own

Phrases- Used to be a talented singer before the creation of Gilead


Facts- Nick is in his 30’s. He is a guardian whom serves Commander Fred. Nothing is known about his life before the creation of Gilead. Offred suspects he may be an eye.


Phrases- “No one’s, above the law Commander”


Minor Characters
Offred’s Mother
Aunt Lydia

Overall description, as well as discussing their significance

The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale focuses on a totalitarian theocratic regime that takes away power from women and is seen through the eyes of a woman called Offred. The main reason I think that Atwood wrote the handmaid’s tale was to make us think about how the world would be viewed in years to come. Almost seen as some sort of warning of the foundation that humanity would eventually sit upon as well as act. Also how people would convey information, and that racial oppression could lead to a rebellion and the shifts in morals.

Gilead as another dystopian fiction is under the total control of the government. Control is exerted through language, clothing, prohibition of reading any form of free communication


Social Hiérarchies

Women- Wives, Aunts, Handmaids, Econowives, Marthas, Unwomen

Men- Commanders of the Faithful Eyes, Angels, Guardians, Gender Traitors (Male/Female)


Handmaid’s only purpose is to reproduce, they are made breeders. Offred knows she is a natural resource

Inability to retaliate- the women fear the governments punishment are jealous of each other. They fail to unite and overcome the republic

Woman cannot have jobs, own property, vote etc…


Costumes (status and hide individuality) Compare Handmaid’s clothing to nuns or women in Islam

Eyes (the symbol of police ‘The Eyes of god’- are always watching. ‘Under His Eye’ as in George Orwell’s 1984 Big Brother is watching

Red (fertility, sin, violence)

Mirrors (a source of identity but are removed for safety)

Flowers (fertility and beauty. The tulip and the handmaid= colour, death and function)

Cambridge Massachusetts (settled by Puritans)

Harvard University (the centre of US knowledge now used for torture)

Scrabble game (control over language and words)

Allusions add layers of meaning to the narrative by evoking the associations that go with the original

Suggest the way the minds works, with sights and events triggering memories of literature, art, pop culture, etc… (Red Riding Hood)

Biblical texts are distorted and corrupted by Gilead government

Show how literate Offred is- emphasising how much she must suffer from being deprived of books

Women are dismissed from their jobs when the regime takes over

Dilema that enjoying sexual and moral freedom may come at a price

Even before Gilead came into being, language had for centuries had for centuries been dominated by male-oriented choices (for example ‘man’ and ‘he’ being used for people in general)

Atwood shows the power of language and being aware of subtitles of meaning (of which Atwood makes us particularly aware through her use of puns)

During games of scrabble with the commander, Offred tastes words as a sensuous experience (chapter 23)- power of writing

Women in Society:

The former society included rape and pornography- on the other hand, women had some degree of control over their fertility via conception

Aunt Lydia says: “there is more than one kind of freedom… freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to.  Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it”

Awakened- Creative Writing


Eyes closed, body stiff, mouth dry, muscles weak and frail. You lie there, confused yet undisturbed and peaceful, away from demons that caress your soul as if it was their own. Your mind is awake and functioning, almost as if it is a dream that clouded reality. Whispers that surround you are easily heard but impossible to make out, or respond to. The hand that lies upon yours is numb, as well as the fiery tears that drown it. Air that surges around, and stale thoughts that cling to the walls, trap you in darkness. Outside, the blossoms dance a pure waltz in the quiet embrace of the wind and you remember when you were part of what they share. The lullaby that it sang when you fell asleep carelessly under the stars was clear and calming. Days of weakness drift by painfully and tirelessly, playing with each thought you somehow cradle in feeble arms. Feelings of uneasiness are haunting, and force the shadow of the past to tease you.   

This has not always been your life though, please tell me you remember. The euphoric sound of laughter, the taste of sweet air, the feeling of love and being loved, before everything turned sour? Do you remember when you could swallow saliva without fear or doubt? or the smile that appeared without reason, in synchronisation with them or when you could smile at all? When he took your hand, feeling his fingers intertwine within yours, feeling heartbeats match. Lips pressing against lips, forcing the blood to whisk to your head as he enveloped you? These days have faded, but you cling onto that ounce of humanity, hoping that it will make you whole once more. You wish you could wake up as a child, free of worry, free of regret; free of torment. That you could redo everything, and erase what now defined you. Wishing your heart had not been corrupted by the event that changed it all. That your mother would smile down at you, welcoming you back, seeing your father weep as his little girl returned to be back with him. All they could see was a fragile body lying still, not breathing, talking, laughing; living.

Your eyes are open, body still stiff, mouth retaining moisture, and muscles gaining back fragments of strength. The hand you didn’t use to be able to feel, remains there, still drowning yours in aged tears, yet new ones form which are tepid and show felicity for you have awakened. Movement is still foreign, but a smile is not, it feels good to be able to express emotion, even just one at a time. Dizziness has taken hold of your head but you don’t give it a second thought. Whispers have gone and so has your inability to make them out. You can hear the sounds that were muted, and respond without keeping it bottled inside your limp figure. The room smells new and strange, you can’t decipher it, it isn’t sweet nor salty. Hot sweat runs down carmine cheeks, searing the skin as you try to move but fail. You are only able to blink each second that passes by, and wriggle your legs under thin sheets that engulf your body. This does not beset you, the world lays at your wobbly feet once more. Oxford blue eyes belonging to you are no longer shielded by dry eyelids, you have returned and are ready; ready to try again.

We Are all Human Speech

Year 12 Speech- What is right? What is just?

We are all Human

“It is revolutionary for any trans person to be seen and visible in a world that tells us we should not exist” When we mention or even see the word transgender written down, most of us choose to turn a blind eye to them, who they are and/or what they classify themselves as. It is sad when trans people are not given the same equal rights as somebody who was born into the body that they were comfortable in, for trans people this is different. For some, it was easy to accept and move on, for others, it simply took a bit more time and effort to stop being who they weren’t.


We are so oblivious in today’s society about the rights that the trans community are not being granted, and we are so happy to sit back and do nothing about it. What has happened to equality? Is it now only a word? Will it actually ever be an action? We are so happy to to think that someone else will do something about the situation, but the truth is that the only people who are helping, are the one’s that this is happening to. In 2011, a national report against transgender discrimination revealed that, 78% of the over 6,450 respondents that were surveyed, had received some sort of harassment throughout their schooling life, and that this harassment was so profound that 15% of them were forced to leave school. In 2016, another survey was conducted with 28,000 people. Of these 28,000 people, 26% of them lost a job due to bias, 50% of them were harassed on the job, 20% were evicted or denied housing, and 78% of trans students were harassed or assaulted. Violence comes in many forms when you identify yourself as a transgender. It is commonly done by the hands of strangers, but can happen in familiar hands; the hands they think they are safe in, the ones at home; family violence. Violence done by the people who have promised to love them through each and every decision that they make. The ones who promised to help and support them through what they go through. Violence from the hands who are never meant to lay a finger on them.


It is unfair that transgender people are not treated the same as say, someone who is, “normal” How is normal defined really? Ordinary life, straight, cisgender, good family life, small group of friends? Because these people were not born how they wanted, and changed, they aren’t normal? Transgenders have been stripped of the same rights that someone who does not identify as transgender has. There have been many court cases in which the court claimed to have the child’s interests as their best intentions, but have ruled against the transgender parent, which resulted in them losing access to their child, solely on the basis of gender identity. A court’s view on this situation, is that it will be emotionally confusing for a child to see their father as a woman or vise versa. This view is flawed. Chances are that the transgender has been this way fo next person has her own story. When Nikki Hayden, was the young age of four she didn’t actually know she was a girl. One of her earliest memories was when she was five and got shouted at by a teacher for going into the girls’ bathroom. She knew at this early age that she was different. Different from the other boys. When she was nine she refused to have her haircut, she wanted to keep it long, however when she was 16 she was forced into having it cut, this was emotionally tormenting for her though. As you can imagine, she was bullied for her differences. She was thin, feminine, had no interest in football and hung with the girls. The people she went to school with, picked at every feature she had, and mocked everything to do with gender and sexuality, you name it, they said it. She did not realise that their was a name for what she was identifying herself as. She learned what trans meant through YouTube. A lightbulb went off in her head and she had discovered who she had been her entire life. To this day, she doesn’t actually tell people that she is transgender. She feels normal and comfortable as she is. Nikki says that “Trans people are the same as everyone else, our ideals in life are to be happy, to be respected, to be comfortable. I’ve had people who have openly said to me that they’ve had prejudices around trans people but as soon as they’ve met me they’ve understood more – it’s who I am and the way that I was born. There’s no real difference between myself and people who are cisgender [non-transgender]” Nikki’s intentions were clear, she was always a woman, she just had to live in the wrong body; the body of a guy for the first sixteen years of her life.


The next story I am choosing to share with you, is the one of Keith Reynolds. He says that people have got it into their heads that they wake up and decide to be trans. He wants people to understand that it is not a choice. He told his mum when he was 13 years 99s intentions were clear, she was always a woman, she just had to live in the wrong body; the body of a guy for the first sixteen years of her life.


The next story I am choosing to share with you, is the one of Keith Reynolds. He says that people have got it into their heads that they wake up and decide to be trans. He wants people to understand that it is not a choice. He told his mum when he was 13 years of age. His mum was shocked and didn’t really understand what he meant. Six months after telling his mum, he told his dad, who was furious at the news. There was a lot of tension in the air at that moment. He couldn’t wear men’s clothing or deodorant without it breaking out in an argument. His dad then got cancer, and sadly died a week before he turned 16. When his dad got got sick they didn’t talk about him being trans. Keith thought that once he had recovered, they would go back to talking about it, but he didn’t recover. After his dad died, he found a book about transgender young people and immediately gave it to him mum, who read it, and was changed completely. She told him that both she and his dad were worried about how this would affect his life, in the sense of finding a job and a life partner. This did not turn out to be difficult. He has never had trouble finding jobs, and has a partner. Keith’s story proves that trans people can do anything they put their minds too. They have the same outlook as anyone else and require the same respect and love as the rest of us.


We are all human. We are all searching for attention, love, respect and support. These things, no matter who we are, are things we all crave. Discrimination against trans people needs to come to an end as soon as possible. These verbal and physical threats are not right. Granted, the difference of saying we will do something rather than actually doing it is massive. We are all capable of saying that we can do something to end it, but what about actually acting on it? It can be as simple as providing emotional support for the transgender and gender nonconforming people you know, especially when they are finding it hard due to rejection from family members and friends, or struggling because of discrimination out in the world. If you wish to help further, you can ensure your workplace/school has a written policy against discrimination based on gender identity or expression. Work to enforce non-discrimination policies for medical health, or social service providers. You can work to fix health and health insurance systems to end discriminatory exclusions for transition-related health care. In New Zealand we have an organisation called Rainbow Youth who supports gender diverse teens in New Zealand by supporting them through their journey. Be We need to remember that;

We are human. We are not perfect. We are alive. We try things. We make mistakes. We stumble. We fall. We get hurt. We rise again. We try again. We keep learning. We keep growing. And… we are thankful for this priceless opportunity called life”


By Kimmi McArthur


To Kill a Mockingbird Essay

2.4 To Kill a Mockingbird Essay

Question 8- Analyse how language features revealed the writer’s purpose in the written text(s)

Throughout the novel To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee, symbolism as a language feature plays an important role in uncovering deeper meanings, and forcing the reader to think about how everyday objects can be used for a more complex reason, they teach us lessons about people and to not judge them through other people’s words. This essay will focus on the symbolism of the six objects placed in the hollow of the tree on the Radley property, and that Harper Lee was trying to say how there is more to something than we first believe. These objects hold significance as the reader learns about how objects can reflect our emotions and teach us to remember that we should not believe everything that someone says, we need to decide for ourselves who someone really is.


To an individual’s naked eye, the idea and overall object of chewing gum is something that speaks simplicity. This very item is not given a great deal of thought by many, but in the eyes of a child, such as Scout Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, it made her feel happy because she had something simple but sweet in her presence. We eventually uncover that Arthur “Boo” Radley placed the gift in the hollow of the tree to make sure Scout or Jem would see it. Boo is essentially the “boogie man” of the novel and the reader learns that Boo was unable to leave his house for fifteen years because his father believed he should be locked up, no longer a part of society. His father thought if he was locked up, he would be protected from himself and that everyone else would be safer without Boo. A consequence that came with this was his image became mythical in the minds of the children and they believed he was a monster. Boo was never able to fully develop mentally, emotionally and socially. He never had that interaction with the other people of Maycomb. Placing the chewing gum in the tree, symbolises Boo trying his best to be kind to the children and diminish the mistrust that the children may feel towards him. The item will have been used to get Scout’s attention, and signal to her to come over to the tree. Scout states that “the tinfoil was winking at me” in the sun. When Jem learns that Scout ate the gum he shouts to her, “Don’t you know you’re not even supposed to touch the trees over there?” this is showing how apprehensive Jem is of the Radley property and is trying to keep Scout safe. His thoughts of Boo consume him, and doesn’t allow room for him to see the good in his character. The writer’s purpose is to reveal that Boo is frozen in time, as he was stripped of his childhood and he was isolated in his home. He was never able to reach his mental, social and emotional potential; he may be older than Jem and Scout, but he is no less a child.


The writer’s purpose in this part of the novel is to show how Boo can be seen as a mockingbird. Mockingbirds are gentle creatures whose only purpose is to create music and peace. They show no harm towards anybody, and are also very protective. In a sense we can see Boo mimicking the characteristics of a mockingbird. Boo as a person, has been a victim of prejudice as mockingbirds are. They are misjudged creatures and Boo is a misjudged character in the novel. Mockingbirds are innocent and have had misconceptions created about them. The people of Maycomb have no valid reason to shoot a mockingbird, as their purpose is a simple one, which is to make sweet music for the people of Maycomb, which can be likened to Boo as his purpose also speaks simplicity. There is no validation to kill a mockingbird. The protagonist, the voice of reason in the novel, Atticus Finch, states that “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” and he is right in saying this and the people of Maycomb need to come to terms with that Boo is no different.


The second item that is found in the hollow of the tree on the Radley property, is a ball of grey twine. When you first take into account the things that grey twine might be used for, you don’t usually take thought of how it could be used figuratively, only literally. When we think deeper it becomes something that has the ability to connect things, or in this case, people, together. The twine signifies that Boo is trying to have a literal connection with the children and form some sort of bond, that is slowly beginning to tighten itself as a phone made of cups and string would do. When the children see this item sticking out of the knot-hole in the tree, they “considered everything we found in the knot-hole our property.” This is revealing that the children are coming to correct conclusions that these items are only for them. Boo understood that it brings people closer, so his intentions were clear that he wanted to be that connection. This connection is however lost when Nathan Radley, Boo’s brother, conceals the hole in the tree with cement, and the ways of communicating became blocked. Boo could not longer reach out to them; his hope is killed, and he is once again isolated. He can be likened to a mockingbird here, because people have been known to lock mockingbirds in cages, and this is exactly what happened to Boo; he is helpless and is unable to break free from humans. Boo symbolises goodness and forgiveness in society. He represents how people can misunderstand someone they believe is bad. When they allow their thoughts to devour them, and don’t give people a chance to express who they are, their ideologies of that person remain the same and nothing ever changes.


In my opinion, the object that symbolizes the children the most that are the two carved soap dolls. The sculptor has paid attention to detail, and created a representation of both children. As Jem looks closer at the two objects, it becomes clear to him that the gifts are only for Scout and him; Scout still remains oblivious to this fact. By giving the children an object that only represents them, it is symbolizing that Boo is aware of their presence and has been watching them from inside his house. He is reaching a hand of friendship out to them and revealing that he is a kind-hearted person. He symbolises innocence of the evil a he is presented by many in Maycomb. The soap dolls are proof that the sculptor, in this case Boo, has refined this particular art over time. By placing in the hole, something that represents the children, it opens their eyes to who Boo may actually be as a person. He represents a mockingbird in this part of the novel, as mockingbirds do no harm to anyone, they are gentle and kind creatures, but are misjudged, which is mirroring Boo and his life which is stereotypical and unfair. Boo represents the wholesome and forgiving nature that lives in people in society. He shares the innocence and kindness that some of us fail to show towards other people in the wider world. Boo remind us that no matter how caged we have been or how bad our experiences have been, this does not make us a bad person.


The next item that Boo leaves for the two children, is a spelling medal. The writer’s purpose is to represent the success that Boo could have once accomplished and the potential he could have had, to lead a normal life if he had not been isolated in his cage for all those years. It represents that he was once a child himself, and he is giving something of his to the children, which is quite brave of him. He is essentially giving away a memory to children he doesn’t know, but wishes too. He uses this item to communicate and may be proof that Boo was once a good student before he got locked up. This is representing that he does not match the preconceived thoughts of himself. He is talented and observant and wants to prove this to Scout and Jem by the objects he gives him. A memory of school would relate to both the children, and they may understand him better than before. Boo’s life has been grim and full of sadness. His motivation came from wanting to reconnect with society and the person he use to be; Jem and Scout helped him to do this by acknowledging the items he left them.


A watch is the next item that is found. It hangs on an aluminum chain and is broken. The break in the watch symbolises a deeper message symbolising a break in the passage of time and throughout Boo’s restricted life, and the passing of family values. Boo views Jem and Scout as his own children whom he will pass his legacy onto; he will look after them, and this watch shows this. This item connects directly with Jem who has carefully carried around his father’s watch with him. Boo is not bitter, he has no hatred towards his father, this is object represents that he is wholesome and has a forgiving nature about him. Harper Lee showed that Boo keeping the watch for all these years meant that he had not lost all hope. He knew that he may find somebody that could be his “children” to pass on his own morals and a part of who he is. It is a precious item that is something rare and vulnerable for special recipients to keep safe.


The last item he leaves them, is of hope and gives feelings of luck. Two Indian pennies with the dates 1900 and 1906, are found and have been polished up and put in a box. These are another symbol of Boo’s kindness, and his longing desire to connect with the children. When Jem sees these, he wishes to help find the owner of them. He is revealing his honesty and says to Scout, “I don’t know Scout. But these are important to somebody” By saying this, Harper Lee reveals to the reader that Boo is a humble character and wishes to do the right thing. The pennies also represent childhood as a whole, and how the pennies may have been Boo’s very last pocket money for him to then have ownership over before he had his life stripped away from him. For him to give these to the children, shares an element of trust, as he is giving what essentially is his last memory of freedom, to children he wants to know. The pennies are also Boo revealing to the children the most precious memories and the most painful time in his restricted life. He held onto innocence for all those years, but at the same time had it diminished from him. By leaving these gifts, he is showing he is good and has no element of evil inside him. He is forgiving, and is trying to explain this through the items he leaves the children.


In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee reveals through language features, in this case symbolism, that the items that Boo left the children hold deeper meanings about people, and greater significance than what the naked eye first sees. For Boo, it was always about the element of connection; connection with the outside world, with himself and also with the children. Boo, as a character was a representation of a mockingbird. This is because mockingbirds are a symbol of innocence, and do not one thing to harm anybody else, thus representing Boo. He is also a symbol of prejudice, this because he is an introverted character that has been isolated in a cage for all years, and has had preconceived ideas about who he is as a person. The people of Maycomb see him as an inhumane figure, rather than a regular member of society. The rumours of him take over Scout and Jem, and they do not think anything else of him; they only pre-judge him to what they hear. The objects Boo gave them symbolised that he is nothing like the mythical status he seems to uphold. Each item was an asking for help, a way of connecting back to the outside world and moving back into society; he was tired of being known as someone who he had never been.

By Kimmi McArthur


Almost Perfect- Creative Writing

Almost Perfect

Staring at my imperfect reflection every morning was a struggle. Not because my face was covered in acne, with no clear space where compliment belonged, or bad dark circles longing for makeup to conceal. No, there was a much more complex reason. A hidden secret, one wanting to be shared with those surrounding me. Leaning closer towards the mirror, eyes inspected every feature on my pale face. Arched eyebrows, long thick black eyelashes, guarding emerald green eyes, and lips which represented dandelion stems. Short shaggy black hair took its own form, I didn’t mind, my hair; the part of my body that I controlled; I smiled. Looking further down, my face formed a tight knot. Hatred flowed through my veins. Hatred of myself and hatred to the hands who had created me. A scenario in my head was constant. A life where a smile never left my face, where criticizing myself was gone; a moment of being me, the person God had forgotten.


I am a boy. To you, and everyone else, my face and body; a girls’. People in the street, pierce me with judgemental eyes each day and my reply, a fake smile, expressing normality. Weird and confused, they think. ‘Something is wrong with her’, they mutter under harsh breaths;  let me assure you, nothing is. I am a boy; simple. My body is decorated in feminine features, though it’s not me, never has been. People say this is a phase; but it’s not. Being in the body of a girl was a phase. It was one that was going to end any moment; accepting it was not an option. A memory emerges into my mind of my 5th birthday. Remembering how excited I was when mother handed me a present wrapped in pale red wrapping paper, felt like yesterday. A smile formed on my face, which was hers to keep. Tearing it got slower as the gift was in sight. The smile that came naturally, now painted on, caused me to disguise the sadness and anger underneath. Her fake smile, reflected mine. Is she happy? A shudder ran up my spine. Never had my eyes been exposed to something this unrealistic. Was mother trying to hint at me, that she wanted me to look like this? Could she not see my suffering? A common face known as torture appeared. He’s the one beside me, walking down the street. He has control, he is the one pulling the strings. This was not my life, no longer could I go on like this, closing my eyes, going, slowly, slipping, slipping out of my body, escaping, finally, free.


I am a boy. To you, and in the eyes of everyone else who no longer pierce me with judgement in the street. Torture doesn’t treat me like his puppet, or pull the strings; I do. No longer do I hesitate walking into the bathroom to stare deeply at my reflection. I no longer examine every imperfection or fault that my face holds. Instead, now, a smile only lingers. Looking past my face has no feeling of disgust. Finally, a new body, a new life of my own. One I don’t have to be constantly afraid of, or dream of. Hatred towards hands that created me has diminished, and I’m ready to start to feel again. To no longer have sadness surround me. This was never for nothing, never was there an ounce of remorse. Knowing my true fate was the easy part. Becoming who I was, on the outside, was difficult. Not one part of me ever questioned this, and not one part, ever will.


By Kimmi McArthur

This is your online portfolio

Hello and welcome to your personal online journal.

This platform has been created to enhance and enrich your learning at Mount Aspiring College. Its purpose is to provide you with an audience for your work (or work-in-progress) and you have the choice (by altering the ‘visibility’ of your posts) of whether your work on here is visible to the world, or only to your teacher.

Anything you post here in the public domain represents you and thus it’s important that you take care with that decision, but don’t be afraid to publish your work – as the feedback you may get from people at home, your peers and people from around the internet is only likely to enhance it.

Remember you can always access your class blog and all manner of resources through the Department of English main website – and by all means check out the sites of your peers to see what they’re getting up to as well.

If you have any questions for me, an excellent way to get an answer is to create a new private post on this journal. I am notified of any new posts and will reply swiftly to any queries.

Make the most of, and enjoy this new freedom in your English learning.



Chris Waugh