Harper Lee

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Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. Her father practised law in the town and Harper Lee studied law at U the University of Alabama. The southern states of the United States of the 1930s and 1940s of Harper Lee's girlhood were C strongly influenced by their history of slavery which had officially ended with the American Civil War (1861 1865). K Some knowledge of the history of the American South, and of the Civil War of 1861 65 in particular, is essential to a proper understanding of To Kill a Mockingbird. It is set in the period from 1933 to 1935, but the past is still strongly alive in the minds of the characters, and the moral and social issues with which the novel is concerned are those which were fought over in the Civil War. The South was an agricultural society, deriving its wealth from the production of cotton, tobacco, rice, sugar and hemp on plantations worked by black slaves. The Northern states had a more urban, industrialised economy and as time passed Northerners became more and more unwilling to condone what they felt to be the evil of slavery in the South The Southerners justified their practice by arguing that the black race was inferior and that the imported Africans were actually fortunate to be American slaves as their slavery brought them into contact with Christianity. The slave system was often enforced with great brutality, and Southern whites tended to regard their black slaves as ignorant, simple minded, lazy, irresponsible and in need of firm guidance from their white superiors. This attitude may be observed among the white inhabitants of Maycomb County in To Kill a Mockingbird. Slaves had laboured on the cotton plantations of the South. After the Civil War, in which the Southern states were defeated by the Northern (or Yankee) states, African American slaves (referred to as Negroes at the time) were freed. However, often they became worse off economically because the use of new machinery was decreasing the demand for...
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