Nelle Harper Lee, ( or as known by her pen name, Harper Lee ), was an American author most notorious for her greatest work of art, To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960. Lee was born in late April of 1926, and grew up in Monroeville, Alabama. To Kill a Mockingbird was loosely based around what Lee observed as a young girl, and incidents that occurred in the outskirts of her hometown. The coming of age novel takes place in Maycomb, Alabama, & deals with the ignorance of adults towards the African - American community in thedeep south in the 1930s, during the Great Depression & Dust Bowl. Harpers product of undeniable talent has won countless awards, and her message still remains significant to this day
To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated in first person by Scout (Jean Louise) Finch in past tense, looking back at her younger, more naïve self. An unknown number of years after the occurrences, Scout guides readers through the novel in a kind of nostalgia, bringing you into her world as an innocent child. The mood of the novel slowly progresses from unwary to condemnatory.
" Bil·dungs·ro·man; noun. a novel dealing with one persons formative years of spiritual education. " To Kill a Mockingbird fits perfectly into the bildungsroman category. Dealing with Scout & brother Jems effort to maintain faith in the good of the adults around them forces them to gradually mature, as they start to realise what the world around them is really like. This is what makes TKAM the classic coming of age story that it is.
Jem Finch, older brother to main character Scout Finch, is age 10 at the beginning of TKAM, and 13 at the end. In between this crucial time in a child's life Jem experiments with what it means to be brave. Within the first few chapters, Jems definition of bravery is as childish as touching the side of the Radley house. But Jems definition of bravery changes as he observes his fathers maturity and poise, even during the most difficult of times. Evidently, Jem grows from boy to young gentleman by the end of the novel.
Dill Hariss is an eccentric 7 year old outsider to the people of Maycomb, but having relatives in the town grants him acceptance. Telling wild stories, he entertains his close friends Scout and Jem every summer. Due to the fact that Dill's personality is a much of a mixture of many characters in TKAM, he helps readers understand Maycomb.
Atticus Finch is a lawyer and single father to children Scout and Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird. He represents ethicality and reason time and time again during the story, and uses the events that occur as opportunities to teach his children. Finch was respected by every man and women in Maycomb, until he decided to defend a coloured man named Tom Robinson in a rape case. Although he received relentless backlash for this decision, he never once thought of giving up on the case or Mr. Robinson, which was very true to his personality.
Calpurnia is an African-American cook and housekeeper for the Finches, and much of a mother figure for the children. Atticus treats her like part of the family, and many of Maycomb are judgemental towards their friendly relationship with each other. Cal's life is very divided between her work and personal life. In the novel, you learn that she speaks differently with her church peers than she does in the Finch home to avoid misunderstanding and confrontation. Calpurnia is a gracious, hard working woman, and often reflects Atticus's maturity.
Bob Ewell is one of the poorest men in all of Maycomb County, and has the poorest character traits in the entirety of To Kill a Mockingbird. Ewell is known for a number of things including going out on mean drinking streaks, & being increasingly impulsive towards not only the black community, but Atticus as well. In fact, Atticus defending a coloured man bothers Ewell so much that he even goes so far as to assult him in front of his son, Jem. Bob Ewell sums up the evil that lies in the community that Scout tries so hard to understand.
Background & Historical Context
To Kill a Mockingbird is set from 1933-1935, during the time of The Great Depression & Dust Bowl. " There was no hurry, for there was no where to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. " This was because of the Great Depression. This was an economic downfall in North America, Europe and other industrialized areas around the world that lasted a decade. This was also during the times when segregation between whites and blacks was a big issue. Although slavery was officially ceased by President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, racism was & still is a massive problem in America and all around the world.
The reader is introduced to the major as well as minor characters, Scout, Jem, Dill, Atticus,Calpurnia, Boo Radley & the county of Maycomb, Alabama. They are told that Jem has a broken elbow, but not told how.
Scout, Jem and Dill become transfixed by their peculiar next door neighbour Boo Radley and begin to have an escalating string of encounters with him. Meanwhile, Atticus takes up the challenge of defending a black man named Tom Robinson against rape charges.
The climax of To Kill a Mockingbird is when Tom Robinson is found guilty of raping Bob Ewells daughter, Mayella Ewell.
Not long after Tom is found guilty for the rape of Mayella Ewell, he tries to escape prison and is shot seventeen times, bringing him to his death. When Atticus is told the devastating news, he drives to the family of Tom's with Jem to inform them of their loss. It is outside the Robinsons home where Atticus gets assaulted by Bob Ewell, & soon after that, Ewell assaults Jem & Scout, too, on their way home from a Halloween party. None other than their strange neighbour, Boo Radley, saves the children, and stabs Bob in order to do to so.
The sheriff, knowing that Radley would be misunderstood in court, just like Tom, lies to the county, saying that Bob Ewells death was a suicide. He does this to save Boo from having the same fate as Tom, and the children never see him again.
The theme with the most importance in To Kill a Mockingbird is whether or not humans are naturally good, or evil. The novel approaches this by showing you the drastic change that the children go through from the beginning of the book to the end. The prospective the children have of the world at the beginning is that all people are generally good, because they have never really observed otherwise. But as the events play out, they come face to face with evil themselves, and it changes the way they see the world around them forever.
A reoccurring motif in TKAM is the gothic details. Some gothic details within the story include the eerie snowfall, the children's assumptions about Boo, & the night Bob Ewell attacks the children. These key things that go on in small-town Maycomb foreshadow the saddening Robinson trial & its resolution.
Tom Robinson is arguably the biggest symbol in To Kill a Mockingbird. Innocents is destroyed by evil multiple times in the novel. The mockingbird is symbolises innocents, just like how Tom was an innocent man during the trial. But innocents gets destroyed by evil, and Tom Robinson was destroyed by racism. ' Mockingbirds don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why its a sin to kill a mockingbird. "
" I think there is just one kind of folks. Folks. " This quote from Scout reflects her childhood innocents, and begs a simple question with a difficult answer. Why cant we all just get along?
Men protest for jobs during the Great Depression
Martin Luther King Junior marches with black men & women to end racism
White men advertise their beliefs against racial integration