Term of Award

Spring 2010

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

Caren J. Town

Committee Member 1

Richard Flynn

Committee Member 2

Candy Schille

Abstract

In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout Finch challenges gender stereotypes in her determination to remain a tomboy. Scout interacts with five parental characters (Atticus, Calpurnia, Aunt Alexandra, Miss Maudie, and Boo Radley), who offer models for Scout's behaviors. Though primarily unconventional in terms of gender, these parental figures fluctuate between ideals, demonstrating that gender is an unstable standard that alters according to each individual. Lee depicts characters who resist conforming to the paradigms of masculinity and femininity and instead fill middle positions between the stereotypes, as Scout's tomboyism exemplifies. After encountering different models, Scout consistently exhibits these genderbending inclinations. Scout's exploration of her identity as a tomboy functions as her coming-of-age journey.

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