Harper Lee is the author of 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. She was born on April 28, 1926, a few years before the Great Depression. Harper was the youngest of her four siblings. Her father was a lawyer, a member the Alabama State Legislature and also owned part of the local newspaper. Her mother showed signs of suffering from mental illness, probably bipolar disorder. Lee became interested in English literature in high school and went to the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery around 1944. She soon discovered her true calling was writing and not the law like her father wanted it to be. In 1949, a 23-year-old Lee arrived in New York, working as a ticket agent for Eastern Airlines and for the British Overseas Air Corp (BOAC) City. She befriended Broadway composer and lyricist Michael Martin Brown and his wife Joy. In 1956, the Browns supported her for a year so that she could write full time. She quit her job and devoted herself to her work. The Browns also helped her find an agent, Maurice Crain. She then worked with Tay Hohoff and made a manuscript, which became her best seller, 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. Sadly she died last year (2016) on February 19. But to her glory, 'To Kill a Mockingbird' has been translated into more than 40 languages with more than a million copies sold each year. She met with President George W. Bush and got a Presidential Medal of Freedom for her "outstanding contribution to America's literary tradition" at a ceremony at the White House in 2007.
We see the town of Maycomb through Scout, a 6-9 year old's eyes (first person) in a cruel and racist town with few kind hearts to keep her going on her path. Scout is a kind and inquisitive little girl. She has to go through a trial involving her father Atticus, defending the innocent Tom Robinson. An abusive father, Mr. Ewell, and a scared daughter, Miss Mayella, convict Tom of rape. While in the courtroom she struggle to watch the punishment of an innocent negro, Tom Robinson. She later finds out that her father has been threatened by the devilish Mr. Ewell. By the end of the book she meets Boo Radley who saves her and her brother, Jem, from Mr. Ewell.
It's the people around Scout Finch that help her grow up, or learn something new. For example Dill teaches her what love is when they kiss. She learns how to be a proper lady, learns to understand the trial and discovers things on her own. She also learns after going to Cal's church that the negros are angry at white people for being separate or diverse. Scout learns that the people in her school live in very different positions, rich and poor. Scout got in a dangerous situation for standing up for her father. all of these experiences help her in the end.
Daughter of Atticus Finch, sister of Jem Finch. Scout is the main protagonist in this book. Scout Finch is a observant, loyal, brave and curious person. She is a tomboy that believes that the people in her town are good. Her faith is tested by the hatred and prejudice that emerges during Tom Robinson’s trial. Scout develops over the story a more grown-up perspective that allows her to admire human goodness without ignoring human evil. She undergoes events that could scar for life, and tackles them with bravery, and a lot of luck, in my opinion. However she finds some fun in-between the drama.
Son of Atticus, Scout’s brother and constant playmate. He refuses to back down from dares and fantasizing about playing football. Four years older than Scout, he starts separating himself from her games, but he remains her close companion and protector as the book progresses. His jaw-dropping experience at Tom Robinson’s trial happens just as he is entering puberty, when life is complicated and traumatic enough. His disillusionment upon seeing that justice doesn't always prevail leaves him vulnerable and confused at a bad time in his life. Nevertheless, he admirably upholds the commitment to justice that Atticus gave him and maintains it with deep conviction throughout the story. Jem shows signs of having learned a positive lesson from the trial; for example, near the beginning of Chapter 25, he doesn't let Scout squash a roly-poly bug because it has done nothing to harm her. After seeing the unfair death of Tom Robinson, Jem now wants to protect the fragile.
Father of Jem and Scout. Because of his intelligence, calm wisdom, and good behavior, Atticus is respected by everyone, including the very poor in the story. Unable to stand the town’s comfortable infused racism, he agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man. Atticus’s decision makes him the object of scorn in Maycomb, but he is simply too good of a man to be schuned for long. He still remains the person everyone goes to for help. He also set a high standard for raising children.
Calpurnia is a mother figure to Scout and Jem both. She gives wise advice to Scout when she complains about their guest overusing the syrup. She tells Scout to be kind and respectful to any type of person or guest. Sadly she is a woman with two worlds, that meaning she has to deal with the other black people, meaning she has to speak their way and not the way Atticus speaks, as to not seem superior to blacks. She is making the best out of the worst, with no bitterness about it, Scout admires her for that.
Arthur (Boo) Radley
Boo Radley is the son of Mr. Radley and brother of Nathan Radley. He is the object of imagination for Scout, Jem and Dill. He gave them little presents/clues on what is happening and is going to happen in Maycomb. He is also the unknown protector of the children. Though adults have there assumptions (rumours) most of them are wrong, like the one about him eating a cat raw and alive. He is a kind person injured by the evil of mankind. So he never left his house.
Background and histiorical context
Mockingbird was very similar to at least three cases that were objects of contention in the Monroeville of her childhood. Lee once commented how, in her book, “the trial, and the rape charge that brings on the trial, are made up out of a similar of such cases and charges.” Seven years before Harper’s birth (in 1926). The senior Lee (the father) had defended two blacks charged of murder. At the time, “the idea that someone like Lee would represent a black is by no means abnormal or unusual, though not typical for a white person,” said a university professor emeritus at Auburn University. “People like her father had grown up in churches. They were not threatened intellectually, economically or politically by blacks.” This was before the time of the civil rights. Not five years later there was a train "attack" on two white prostitutes that nine blacks "assaulted". Eight of them died and the other being too young, was free to go. This was no doubt a factor of to kill a mocking bird, considering the fact that it was something huge in Lee's country. I also think that this gave her an idea that this was something wrong to do.
The exposition introduces the main characters and basically what happens normally in their lives. Scout Finch describes life in Maycomb as simple and unwavering even in the depression-era. Scout is 6 and Jem is 10. Once this background was astablished along came a strange boy called Dill. A fiesty, imaginative boy who soon came to be their closest friend during his stay in the summer. Near the end of the summer, they found themselves wondering about the Radley Place. Dill dares Jem to go inside the boundary of the Radleys' front gate. He touches the house but nothing happens except the moving of a shutter. September arrives and Scout is eagearly waiting her first day at school. When she arrives, she is to the highest level of disappointment and regret. She doesn't like her new teacher. Atticus takes on Tom Robinson's case.
The rising action is the beginning of the trial. The kids are finding it hard to believe the Ewell's case, believe that Tom should be a free man. They think the jury should charge Mr. Ewell instead. Atticus is beginning to state good facts to the jury.
The climax is when- Atticus goes and digs deeper into his facts that support Tom's case. It remains that a black person accused by a white person will always lose and therefore Tom is found guilty.
The falling action is when- Mr. Ewell gets what he wants and more. Tom tries to escape imprisonment and gets shot to death. Not long after that, Atticus is threatened by Mr. Ewell. After a while, Atticus isn't concerned about the Ewell's threat. Scout and Jem go to a halloween party. Once the party was over, they went home. When nearing the Radley Place, they heard footsteps behind them and thought it was some boy and yelled at him. They coninued and then suddenly a figure knocked Scout to the ground, Jem was still standing and attacked the figure. It was Mr. Ewell out for revenge. Jem got knocked out and Scout was on the ground waiting helplessly in her ham costume. She heard a person coughing a few last breaths of life and was hoisted up with Jem by Boo Radley to get help. Jems arm was badly broken, and Boo Radley saved Jem and Scout's life. The sheriff overlooked the fact that Boo killed a man. Scout learned that Boo had been kind all along, Atticus added "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them". Scout and Atticus waited by Jem's bedside until Jem woke up the next morning.
There is one main theme in this story which is the prospect of good and evil. Some people in this town are meant to be good and some are meant to be bad. This has the town divided where some whites v.s. other whites and some whites v.s. blacks. It also tests the idea of a child's innocence and how children believe a persons goodness until they witnessed evil first hand. This is when children start to grow up.
Some of the motifs includes the added drama that also added some very gothic details. This includes some very strange weather (snow) and very dark, gloomy places (Radley Place). These things that are happening, have a meaning to the storyline, thus foreshadowing the trial and what happened soon after it like the death of Tom, Mr. Ewell's attack, death and so on.
The symbols in 'To KIll A Mockingbird' are very simple yet very meaningful. The mockingbird means or clarify's innocence in Tom and Boo both. It was a sin to kill Tom for he had only wished to help Miss Mayella, but instead got filled with bullets. The Radley Place symbolises mystery, fear and understanding that someone is waiting and watching out for you. The mad dog represents the lynch mob and injustice Atticus had to fight against. The snowman/mudman signifies that together you could stand as one, but alone you would fall apart.
Some of our worlds best quotes are in this one piece of literature. Just like how the book reflected in the civil rights era, the quotes also played a major role in that timeline. These quotes also promoted equality, empathy and a sense of understanding. Here are some examples; "Cry about the simple hell people give to other people without even thinking. Cry about the hell white people give coloured folks, without even stopping to think that they're people too." - Dolphus Raymond. He is describing the hatred of white to coloured, not reverse, and he doesn't want to be a part of the hatred that is spreading like the plague. " I think there is only one kind of folks. Folks." - Scout Finch. Scouts is trying to say that there should only be one type of nation, and it should include everyone. This is very kind and perceptive of her.