Foils In Literature Essay

674 words - 3 pages

“The character of a man is known from his conversations.” This quote from famed Greek dramatist, Menander, clearly illustrates the reason foils are used in literature. A pair of foils are two characters who compliment each other through contrast; each one helps exaggerate the other's personality. To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, has many excellently executed examples of this foil technique. Weather the foils appear only for a mere chapter, like that of Calpurnia and Lula, or is segmented throughout the entire book, like that of Miss Maudie Atkinson and Miss Stephanie Crawford, their contrast resonates throughout the entire experience. In the case of Walter Cunningham Sr. And Bob Ewell, it even has a major impact on the plot.

One of the first characters we are introduced to in the book is Calpurnia, the Finches' Negro “cook”, as Scout says (Lee 3). However, she is clearly more than that; she fills the role of a mother for Jem and Scout. She is strict when needs to be and caring when she doesn't. Particularly, she teaches the children not to be prejudice to any person, regardless of race. This is in direct contrast of the beliefs of Lula, a fellow Negro female that attends the African-American First Purchase Church, along with Calpurnia. In Lula's opinion, “white chillun...got their church, we got our’n”; she doesn't want the white and black races to be treated equally (Lee 63). Since they're often treated as second-class in a group of white people, she believes that white people should people should be treated the same way in a group of black people. While pondering this separately, it seems that she may have some validity to her point; however, in the context of the book, she almost immediately comes of as morally wrong. This is because she is placed in direct opposition of Calpurnia, who we have come to believe is morally right. This use of foils may have been exactly what Harper Lee was...

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