To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel is a coming of age story about scout a young girl who lives with her father, Atticus and her brother, Jem in Maycomb, Alabama. When tragedy hits the small town Scout and her brother are faced the the dark side of human nature.
Nelle Harper Lee born april 28, 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama where she grew up as the youngest of four children of Frances Cunningham and Amasa Coleman. Her first name was her Grandmother's name spelt but she more widely none for her pen name Harper Lee. Her father was a former newspaper editor and proprietor, he also practiced law and served in the Alabama State Legislature. He once defended two black men accused of murdering a white store keeper. Both clients, father and his son were hanged. while in Monroeville high school, Lee developed an interest in English literature. After graduating she attended the all female school Huntingdon College in Montgomery for a year, then transferred to the university of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, there she studied law for several years and wrote for the university newspaper, but she never complete a degree. Published July 11, 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was an immediate bestseller and won Pulitzer prize for fiction in 1961. It still remains a bestseller, with more 30 million copies in print. In 1999 it was voted "best novel of the Century" in a poll by the Library Journal.
Point of view
To Kill a Mockingbird is told in the first person perspective of Jean Louis "Scout" Finch. At the start of the book she is a six year old girl who thinks that everyone in the world is like her family and neighbors until she starts school and is taught by Atticus to be empathetic. Scout's views on the world change as she grows up and learns that some people can negativity change the world but also some can make a positive change. Throughout the book Scout narrates her feelings and thoughts but also how she thinks Jem is feeling. Towards the end of the book Scout losses some of her innocence but still believes the world is good.
"a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character from childhood to adulthood"
To Kill a mockingbird, spans three years and in that time you see Scout, Jem and dill learn how the real world works. They all change and mature differently but they come to relatively the same conclusion the world is not always good and filled with joy as the thought it was. They are forced to face the darkness of the world and mature and lose their innocence.
Jean Louise is the protagonist and narrator. She is tomboy, intelligent, kind, athletic and mature. She lives with her father Atticus finch and her brother Jem and the family's housekeeper Calpurnia. She is also the niece of Alexandra Finch.
Jem is the brother of Scout and son of Atticus. He also lives with family at the finch residence. throughout the book Jem acts as Scouts protector and Dill's constant playmate. He is athletic, brave, daring, ambitious and unaggressive.
Atticus Finch is the father of Jem and Scout, he also is the brother of Alexandra Finch's brother. Atticus is lawyer in Maycomb and a widower. He one of the only people in Maycomb who believes in racial equality. He has a strong morality. He is strong willed, courageous, wise, empathetic, loyal, modest, admirable and friendly.
Dill is Jem and Scout's best friend, he lives with his mother-in-law and father in meridian and int he summer he lives with aunt Miss Racheal Haverford in Maycomb. he is gentle, playful, energetic, confident and imaginative.
Boo is a major influence in Scout's, Jem's and Dill's imagination throughout their childhood. In the book Boo is seen as a creepy character and is widely spoken about in the town gossip. he never sets foot outside his house. He leaves presents in his tree for the Finch siblings. He saves Scout and Jem when Bob Ewell attacked them. he is compassionate, good-natured, heroic and complex.
Tom is a black field hand and was accused of raping Mayella Ewell, Bob Ewell's Daughter and is defended by Atticus throughout his trial. He lives with his wife, Helen Robinson and three children. he is honest, kind, cautious and oppressed.
Bob is the main antagonist in the book. he is the wrongful accuser of Tom's supposed rape of Mayella Ewell. He is the father of eight and lives in a small house next to the dump. Relief checks are the only source of income for his large family. He is petty, rude, racist, hate-filled and sly.
Background and historical context
The dust bowl and great depression were a background role in the novel, To Kill a mocking Bird. The great depression was the long lasting finical decline in the western history. it took place during 1920 to 1940 and left millions unemployed, poor and depressed. The dusbowls are a devastating period where the great plains region were hit in drought ,light soil and heavy winds killing most crops. the dustbowls took place in the 1930s.
the great depression is important in the novel because the president at the time was Frank D. Roosevelt. In chapter one Scout quotes Roosevelt's famous speech while she is describing Maycomb, " Maycomb had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but itself". It is also mentioned when Scout is describing living in Maycomb, "There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb county."
the Dustbowls are first mentioned in chapter 27 when Scout is describing what Bob Ewell did after the trial, The first thing was that Mr. Bob Ewell acquired and lost a job in a matter of days and probably made himself unique in the annals of the nineteen-thirties: he was the only man I ever heard of, who was fired for the WPA for laziness." The WPA or Works Progress Administration, it gave unemployed jobs during the dustbowls.
Exposition: we are introduced to the major characters and minor characters, the setting and some background information.
Rising action: Atticus takes up the rape case involving Tom Robinson and Bob Ewell. Scout's, Jem's and Dill's Curiosity increases about Boo Radley and have multiple encounters with him. Atticus also teaches Scout about empathy.
Climax: Tom Robinson is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, despite the compelling evidence by Atticus. the trio are sent into a spiral of emotions and confusion that forces them to see the evil of human nature and develop a more mature look on the world.
Falling action: Jem struggles to come to terms with the injustice of Tom Robinson's conviction and Tom is shot and killed while trying to escape prison. Bob Ewell after making many threats to Atticus, attack Scout and Jem on their way home one night.
resolution: Boo musters enough courage to get out of his house and save the two from Bob. while fighting Bob, Boo kills Bob. The sheriff, Mr. Heck Tate, protects Boo by saying Bob fell on his knife. and Scout now sees Boo as a person.
One of the most important theme of To Kill a Mockingbird is the exploration of the moral nature of humans which essentially tells if someone is good or evil. It shows this by showing the transition of Scout and Jem Childhood innocent perspective look on the world at the beginning. to a more mature adult like perspective because they have seen the evil nature of humans. A major sub theme of the novel that threatens the innocent is prejudice, hatred and ignorance. people as Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are not prepared for the evil they are faced with. Jem's faith in justice and humanity is damaged when Tom is convicted and Scouts faith is able to remain. The moral voice of the novel is Atticus because he has seen the evil of humanity without losing faith that humanity can be good. Atticus understands that the world isn't made up of good people and evil people, everyone has good and bad qualities.
Gothic details: the Gothic details are written into a novel to add tension, drama, mystery and supernatural thriller. the Gothic details that show up in the book are the strange superstitions of Boo Radley and the fire in miss Maudie's house and the Bob Ewell attack on Halloween. it creates an atmosphere and tension that suits the trial and its aftermath.
Small-town life: counterbalancing the Gothic details is the motif of old-fashioned, small town values and lifestyle. Lee often contrasts the Gothic details with the values of the small town for example, the horror of the fire at miss Maudie's house and town banding together to save her possessions. in contrast when Bob Ewell attacks defenseless Scout wearing a ham costume make him evil.
the mockingbird is the major symbol in the novel. Atticus's quote, in chapter 10 he says " ... It's a sin to kill a mockingbird". and in miss Maudie's explanation "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but ... sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin To Kill a Mockingbird." and tells that killing a mockingbird is like killing innocence and purity. the symbolization of the mockingbird is referenced more when Mr. Underwood compares the death of Tom Robinson to the killing of song birds.