In To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee uses memorable characters to explore Civil Rights and racismin the segregated southern United States of the 1930s. Told through the eyes of Scout Finch, you learn about her father Atticus Finch, an attorney who hopelessly strives to prove the innocence of a black man unjustly accused of rape; and about Boo Radley, a mysterious neighbor who saves Scout and her brother Jem from being killed. Written by:Harper Lee Type of Work:novel Genres:bildungsroman(coming of age novel); Civil Rights Movement First Published:1960 by J. B. Lippincott Setting: 1930s; Maycomb, Alabama Main Characters: Scout Finch; Atticus Finch; Jem Finch; Tom Robinson; Bob Ewell; Boo Radley Major Thematic Topics: Jim Crow Laws; prejudice; civil rights; racism; defining bravery; maturity; feminine vs. masculine; women's roles in the South; effects of the mob mentality; perception; inconsistency of humanity; gender roles; integrity Motifs: superstition; Boo Radley; weeds; education in the classroom versus small town education Major Symbols: mockingbirds; snow; birds; rebirthing fire Movie Versions: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) The three most important aspects of To Kill a Mockingbird:
The title of To Kill a Mockingbird refers to the local belief, introduced early in the novel and referred to again later, that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. Harper Lee is subtly implying that the townspeople are responsible for killing Tom Robinson, and that doing so was not only unjust and immoral, but sinful. The events of To Kill a Mockingbird take place while Scout Finch, the novel’s narrator, is a young child. But the sophisticated vocabulary and sentence structure of the story indicate that Scout tells the story many years after the events described, when she has grown to adulthood. To Kill a Mockingbird is unusual because it is both an examination of racism and a bildungsroman. Within the framework of a coming-ofage story, Lee examines a very serious social problem. Lee seamlessly blends these two very different kinds of stories.
To Kill a Mockingbird is primarily a novel about growing up under extraordinary circumstances in the 1930s in the Southern United States. The story covers a span of three years, during which the main characters undergo significant changes. Scout Finch lives with her brother Jem and their father Atticus in the fictitious town of Maycomb, Alabama. Maycomb is a small, close-knit town, and every family has its social station depending on where they live, who their parents are, and how long their ancestors have lived in Maycomb. A widower, Atticus raises his children by himself, with the help of kindly neighbors and a black housekeeper named Calpurnia. Scout and Jem almost instinctively understand the complexities and machinations of their neighborhood and town. The only neighbor who puzzles them is the mysterious Arthur Radley, nicknamed Boo, who never comes outside. When Dill, another neighbor's nephew, starts spending summers in Maycomb, the three children begin an obsessive — and sometimes perilous — quest to lure Boo outside. Scout is a tomboy who prefers the company of boys and generally solves her differences with her fists. She tries to make sense of a world that demands that she act like a lady, a brother who criticizes her for acting like a girl, and a father who accepts her just as she is. Scout hates school, gaining her most valuable education on her own street and from her father. Not quite midway through the story, Scout and Jem discover that their father is going to represent a black man named Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping and beating a white woman. Suddenly, Scout and Jem have to tolerate a barrage of racial slurs and insults because of Atticus' role in the trial. During this time, Scout has a very difficult time restraining from physically fighting with other children, a tendency that gets her in trouble with her Aunt Alexandra and Uncle Jack. Even Jem, the older...
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