The back of the Radley house was less inviting than the front: a ramshackle porch ran the width of the house; there were two doors and two dark windows between the doors. Instead of a column, a rough two-by-four supported one end of the roof. An old Franklin stove sat in a corner of the porch; above it a hat-rack mirror caught the moon and shone eerily. “Ar-r,” said Jem softly, lifting his foot. “‘Smatter?” “Chickens,” he breathed. That we would be obliged to dodge the unseen from all directions was confirmed when Dill ahead of us spelled G-o-d in a whisper. We crept to the side of the house, around to the window with the hanging shutter. The sill was several inches taller than Jem. “Give you a hand up,” he muttered to Dill. “Wait, though.” Jem grabbed his left wrist and my right wrist, I grabbed my left wrist and Jem’s right wrist, we crouched, and Dill sat on our saddle. We raised him and he caught the window sill. “Hurry,” Jem whispered, “we can’t last much longer.” Dill punched my shoulder, and we lowered him to the ground. “What’d you see?” “Nothing. Curtains. There’s a little teeny light way off somewhere, though.” “Let’s get away from here,” breathed Jem. “Let’s go ‘round in back again. Sh-h,” he warned me, as I was about to protest. “Let’s try the back window.” “Dill, no,” I said.
Dill stopped and let Jem go ahead. When Jem put his foot on the bottom step, the step squeaked. He stood still, then tried his weight by degrees. The step was silent. Jem skipped two steps, put his foot on the porch, heaved himself to it, and teetered a long moment. He regained his balance and dropped to his knees. He crawled to the window, raised his head and looked in. Then I saw the shadow. It was the shadow of a man with a hat on. At first I thought it was a tree, but there was no wind blowing, and tree-trunks never walked. The back porch was bathed in moonlight, and the shadow, crisp as toast, moved across the porch toward Jem. Dill saw it next. He put his hands to his face. When it crossed Jem, Jem saw it. He put his arms over his head and went rigid. The shadow stopped about a foot beyond Jem. Its arm came out from its side, dropped, and was still. Then it turned and moved back across Jem, walked along the porch and off the side of the house, returning as it had come. Jem leaped off the porch and galloped toward us. He flung open the gate, danced Dill and me through, and shooed us between two rows of swishing collards. Halfway through the collards I tripped; as I tripped the roar of a shotgun shattered the neighborhood.
Comment on how language is used to add excitement to the extract.
For a B grade:
i. Which synonyms are used for ‘said’ – how do they help set the scene?
ii. How is ‘the shadow’ made scary?
iii. There is a contrast between the children’s movement at the beginning of the passage and at the end – how does this affect the scene?
For an A grade:
i. The initial dialogue is made up of single words – how does this show the children’s feelings?
ii. ‘I was about to protest’ Scout does not want to be there – what emotion does this add to the scene?
iii. How is the image of the shadow made to be more ‘gothic’?