Summer Reading Assignment
English 1 MYP
To Kill a Mockingbird
By: Harper Lee
The novel is set in a neighborhood in Maycomb County, about twenty miles east of Finch’s Landing; a homestead on the banks of the Alabama River during the 1930’s.The author used this particular location because of the jurisdictional customs that the county comes with, which plays an important role in outcome of the Tom Robinson case. Atticus mentions in the book that rape is a capital offense in the state of Alabama, which is why Tom Robinson would be sent to the electric chair if he lost his appeal. If the author had chosen a different state for the novel to take place, this may have changed Tom Robinson’s punishment for the crime he was accused of. This is also part of the reason that this story could not have been written in a different setting, along with the fact that the time period in which this story takes place cannot be altered either. This was a time of racial segregation and if the author claimed that these events occurred in modern day, it wouldn’t send the same message to readers. The author chose this particular neighborhood because of the Radley House, which was necessary to the plot of this story. This particular setting made the book more exciting in the scene where Jem and Scout rolled the tire into the Radley house. If the Finches didn’t live in a location near the Radley house and Boo Radley wasn’t part of the story, then this scene would become insignificant and boring to the reader. However, because this was the particular setting, the scene was given intensity and suspense.
One of the major conflicts in the novel is the controversy over Tom Robinson’s innocence. Tom Robinson was determined guilty by the court jury, which Atticus described to consist of average Maycomb County citizens. Even though nearly all the men that made up the jury were fair and average people, several others still believed Tom was innocent. The jury convicting Tom resolved this conflict publicly, however, other members of the county still believed Tom was an innocent man. Another major conflict of this story is the neighborhood’s impression of Boo Radley. For the main reason that Boo never went outside of his house, and was never seen by anyone, the neighborhood was given the impression that he was a deranged man. This conflict was resolved at the end of the story when Mr. Radley saves Scout’s brother, and she witnesses for herself that he is in deed a sane man. A minor conflict between Jem and Mrs. Dubose occurs when Jem decided he had enough of Mrs. Dubose’s rude comments towards him and his family, and ruins Mrs. Dubose’s flower beds. Jem then has to read to Mrs. Dubose for an hour each day, and little did he know that by reading to her, he helped her escape her drug addiction. This conflict was resolved in the death of Mrs. Dubose because she was able to die a “free woman”.
The parts of the novel concerning the mystery of the Radley House, as well as the part focusing on the Tom Robinson case, come together to play an important role in the outcome of the plot. In the final event of this story, Bob Ewell attempts to come at Jem and Scout with a knife, but is unsuccessful. Boo Radley saves the kids, but not before Jem managed a broken arm, and Mr. Ewell’s death. Later the sheriff tries to assure Atticus that Bob Ewell fell backwards on his own knife, but Atticus is not convinced. This ties the two parts of the story together because Bob Ewell’s motivation to harm innocent children was revenge on Atticus for accusing Bob of beating his daughter. Atticus made this accusation in the courtroom in defense of Tom. This shows that the Tom Robinson case gave Mr. Ewell motivation to cause this final event, and Boo coming out of his house and saving the kids brings it together with the mystery of Boo Radley, because he finally leaves his house to come to the rescue of Scout and her brother.
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