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AN ANALYSIS OF SIGNS IN THREE BOOK COVERS FROM TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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Analysis of signs to discover how the main themes of To Kill a Mockingbird are portrayed in three book covers.
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    AN ANALYSIS OF SIGNS IN THREE BOOK COVERS FROM TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD  Nuria Escobar Lluch EA0939 - English Text and Discourse  TABLE OF CONTENTS 1. Introduction3  1.1. To Kill a Mockingbird3  2. Theoretical background4   3. Analysis5  3.1. First cover5 3.2. Second cover7 3.3. Third cover8  4. Conclusion9   5. References10  2  1. Introduction Anessentialelementinabookisitscover.Infact,thecoverhastheprimaryfunctionof  givingagoodfirstimpressionbecausethemoreattractivethebookis,themorepeoplewant tohaveit(Gallagher,2015).Furthermore,visualelementsdepictsomedetailsaboutthestory suchasthecentraltheme,toneoreventheprotagonists.Therefore,thesedatacanbe  provided implicitly through the utilisation of signs and visual metaphors. Forthisreason,themainpurposeofthispaperistoanalysethreebookcoversfromHarper  Lee’sbestsellercalled   ToKillaMockingbird  .Particularly,thispaperwillevaluatethe relationship between the covers and the main themes of Lee’s story. 1.1. To Kill a Mockingbird    Ashortintroductiontothisnovelanditsplotwillbesuppliedtounderstandthispaper.   To    KillaMockingbird  (1960)wasthefirstnovelthatHarperLeepublished.Thenovel   underwentanimmediatesuccess,anditisconsideredaclassicwithintheAmericanliterature afterwinningthePulitzerAward.Inbroadterms,theauthorexploresthethemesofracism, the loss of innocence and also empathy from the point of view of a very young girl. Regardingitsplot,thisnovelissetinafictionaltowncalledMaycombinAlabamaduringthe GreatDepression.Thenarratorisasix-year-oldchildwhosenameisScoutwhoprovidesan innocentandsometimesanadultperspectiveofherexperienceswiththecompanyofher  father Atticus, her older brother Jem, and her friend Dill. Throughtheirgamesandadventures,thereaderwilldiscovertheterrorandfascinationthat thechildrenhavetowardstheirintrovertneighbour,whoiscalledBoo.Readerswillalso identifytheprejudicesofMaycomb’sneighbours.Asthestoryprogressesandthechildren growup,theyalsorealisethatlifeisnotassimpleashowtheybelieve.Forinstance,they  becomeawareofhowracisthumanbeingscanbe,especiallyduringTomRobinson’strial whoisfalselyaccusedofrapingawhitegirl.Thus,thismomentwillbethetriggertothe children’s loss of innocence. 3  2. Theoretical background "Whenatextispublishedandthebookisdesignedandprinted,itbecomesaphysical manifestationnotjustoftheideasoftheauthor,butoftheculturalidealsandaestheticsofa distincthistoricalmoment"(Drew&Sternberger,2005:8).Therefore,coversareimportant  becausetheycanserveasasourcetoanalysevisualandculturalfeatures,eventhoughwhen itsimageryispreservedtoaminimum.Aboutthedesign,coversdonotalwaysdisplaythe novelist’sideasdirectly(D’Astous,Colbert&Mbarek,2006).Nevertheless,thatcoverand thestoryneedaconnectiontobeacknowledgedbyreaders.Forthisreason,abstractideas- e.g.ideologies,opinions,motivations-areexpressedthroughsigns,writtentext,typography andcolourstocreatemeaningfulcontents,sothereaderfeelsthesameessenceinthecover  and the story. Sincemeaningisfundamentaltounderstandfullythemaincontentofthecover,semioticsis afieldthatwillbeexplainedbriefly.AccordingtoGallagher(2015),itstandsforthestudyof  signsandtheirmeaningdependingontheaudienceinterpretation.Furthermore,Saussureand Pierceprovidedasignificantcontributiontothisfield.Ontheonehand,Saussure(1959) introducedthetermssignifier(thementalsound-image)andsignified(theobjectitrefersto) withanarbitraryconnection.Ontheotherhand,Piercegavenametothreedivergenttypesof  signs:index(thesignifieriscausallyorcloselyrelatedtothesignified),icon(thesignifier  resemblesthesignified),andsymbol(thelinkbetweenthesignifierandsignifiedisarbitrary, and its meaning must be learnt) (Gallagher, 2015). Allinall,bookcoversdepictnotjustahiddenideaofwhatreaderswilldiscoverinthebook,  butalsoculturalinformationrelatedtothecontextinwhichthestoryoccurs.Toexpressthese data,differentsignscanbefoundintheimagerywhichwillbethecentreofattentioninthis  paper.Forthisreason,thetermsintroducedbySaussureandPiercewillbeusedthroughout the study. 4  3. Analysis Asitwaspreviouslymentioned,threedifferentbookcoverswillbeanalysed.Apartfrom divergentsymbols,thecolourwillbeconsideredsincetheyprovidesomehiddenmeanings that are relevant in this analysis. 3.1. First cover Picture 1. Book cover by Grand Central Publisher (US) Inthiscover(seePicture1),threedifferentelementswillbeexplained:asymbol(thetree), an icon (the children), and the colours. Tobeginwith,thecentralelementisthetreewhichreferstotheplacewhereBoogives  presentstoScoutandJem.Thesignifierisatreethatgoesfromspringtowinter.Asitis depicted,inthebackcover,thetreeisfullofleaves,butinthefront,therearebarebranches. Regardingthesignified,thiselementhasaprofoundmeaning:lifeisnotabedfullofroses. However,itcanexpressthelossofinnocence:intheback,itisinitshighestmoment,butas itmovestothefront,itmarksthatinnocencehasjustdied(asitisdepictedinthetitleofthe novel).ThetrunkisalsoessentialbecauseitcontainsthepresentsthatBoogivestothe 5
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