Southern Parallels: An Exploration of the Life of Harper Lee and the Lasting Impact of To Kill a Mockingbird

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Ashley Ewing
Dr. Cohoon
Literary Heritage
18 February 2013
Essay One

Southern Parallels: An Exploration of the Life of Harper Lee and the Lasting Impact of To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee is considered one of America’s most enigmatic and influential writers of the twentieth century. Lee’s popular novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, offers readers deep insight into the dynamics of an unconventional family and Southern lifestyle in the1930s. Harper Lee was born Nelle Harper Lee on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama ( According to the author’s official website, Harper Lee was a descendant of famous Civil War general, Robert E. Lee, and daughter to a former newspaper editor turned state senator and practicing attorney. She studied law at the University of Alabama from 1945 to 1949 and spent a year at Oxford University Wellington Square as an exchange student ( Dean Shackelford, author of “The Female Voice In To Kill a Mockingbird: Narrative Strategies In Film and Novel,” explains that To Kill A Mockingbird “portrays a young girl's love for her father and brother and the experience of childhood during the Great Depression in a racist, segregated society which uses superficial and materialistic values to judge outsiders, including the powerful character Boo Radley.” Harper Lee struck literary gold by creating parallel experiences between her life and her novel. Similarities between Lee’s relationships and experiences and that of the protagonist and the spotlight she places on important struggles of the time create a lasting impact on all her readers. Many characters in To Kill a Mockingbird are based on individuals in Harper Lee’s childhood. The narrator, Scout Finch, is a young girl with an inquisitive nature, who lives with her father and older brother. Atticus Finch, Scout’s father, is an attorney and a disenfranchised member of a prominent family in Maycomb. describes Scout’s father as “a widower...
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