“Harper Lee was born on the 28th of April 1926” (Lee), in Monroeville, Alabama. Her father is a lawyer and her mother has suffered mental problems and her mother had stayed at home because of it. Harper lived near her best friend Truman Capote, who was very influential in Harper’s childhood. Harper was very interested in English literature. She graduated high school in 1944 and went to the all-female Huntingdon College in Montgomery, Alabama. Here she stood out because she focused on work or her studies instead of fashion or dating. Later Harper transferred to the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa where she continued with her love in writing. She was also part of the school's newspaper, the “Rammer Jammer” (Lee), later becoming an editor of the newspaper. Harper was accepted into law school which impeded her position with the school newspaper and therefore had to step down. Harper did not stay in law school for long because of her interest in writing. Harper transferred to Oxford as an exchange student. Later she returned to her law studies in the fall, she dropped out after the first semester. She went to New York to pursue her career, but became a ticket agent on an Eastern Airlines and for the British Overseas Air Corp because of her struggle. During her time in New York she met Truman after being apart for a long time and they became friends with composer and lyricist Michael Martin Brown and his wife Joy. This helped Harper because she was given a Christmas present by Michael Martin Brown who supported her for a year as she went into writing fulltime and quit her job. “She wrote her book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ which won for her the Pulitzer award” (Lee).
Harper and Truman had teamed up to write about the murder of four members of the Clutter family, and the impact of that event. The book would than become a fiction masterpiece, “In Cold Blood” (Copyright ©2013 Soylent Communications). The interviews that followed to make the book would prove later to help with the case of the murder trial. Historic connection to Harper lee
“During the civil war, much of the income of the south came from the cotton fields where the coloured people had worked. But since the end of the civil war, they became free people. Since the landlords still wanted control over the African Americans, they enforced the Jim Crow laws, which took away the rights of African Americans.” (© Copyright 2009-2013 Book Drum Ltd) Harper lee lived during a time of racial segregation. Especially in the south in: Alabama, the birthplace of Harper, and the location of the novel. They were not allowed in restaurants, bars, and common places. “Also they were not allowed to serve in World War 2 at first, but when they did some of them were not even commended” (Goodwin). However during the later years in the 1950s the government started to remove the segregation by making a separate but equal education. Most of Harper adult life is not just about racial segregation; it is also about activism and the fight for freedom. To kill a Mocking Bird is an example of why there is need to be great social change as it put froths the discrimination shown in the real world. This novel released on “July 11, 1960” (Lee) was written during a period of most significant social changes. “The novel was released around the period of Rosa Parks, the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott, and the 1956 riots at the University of Alabama, and the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.” (Goodwin) Not only was there racial segregation, there was also gender segregation. During Harper Lee’s period: women were only starting to gain equality but were still expected to stay at home and the men are supposed to be at work. Perseverance and activism closed the segregation in the gender classes. “During both world wars, women were able to work and only in the 1920s they were able to vote”. (Goodwin) Therefore during the time of “To Kill a Mocking Bird” release, history has shown a time of social change that changed the class divide of race and gender as Harper wrote the book during the civil rights era. Historic cultural connection to the novel
To Kill a Mocking Bird took place during the great depression era in the 1930s. During this time period, there was a great division in the racial communities. “The depression, affected both the skin colors as unemployment was everywhere” (© Copyright 2009-2013 Book Drum Ltd). Particularly in the Southern area and particularly rural communities that were the setting of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. “To Kill a Mockingbird took place in a fictional town called Maycomb, Alabama and is the fictional home town of the Finches” (© Copyright 2009-2013 Book Drum Ltd). Maycomb is revealed as a very safe place live. Here everyone left their houses unlocked. “This peace and serenity is broken by the violent racism” (Steven J. Ross) which divided the white and African-American population. “The story may have a 1930s setting but the story was told from the perspective of the 1950s based on the voices, the conflicts, tensions, and fears during that period” (Zuniga). In the novel Harper Lee shows how issues of gender and race greatly affects prejudice. As the story silence the voices of the discriminated. This disturbed the American’s views of the causes of racism and segregation. For example: “Atticus Finch tried to protect and helped a black man who has been charged with raping a white woman to get a fair trial” (Lee). This novel showed how Atticus was alone in fighting the prejudice that was happening in the town.
“The gender roles showed a beginning to social change in the story To Kill a Mocking Bird. A typical woman in the 1930s was portrayed to be a ‘stay at home mom’ that needed a strong man to support the family. As Scout Finch was a character in the novel that fought the social norms in the town and an independent strong woman like Miss Maudie. However the novel also showed what a woman was thought to be like in the 1930s: Portrayed as weak, fragile, and helpless for example Miss Mayella”. (Zuniga)
© Copyright 2009-2013 Book Drum Ltd. "Bookdrum." 2009-2013. To Kill a Mockingbird. http://www.bookdrum.com/books/to-kill-a-mockingbird/9780099419785/setting.html. december 2013. Copyright ©2013 Soylent Communications. "NNDb Tracking the world-Harper lee." 2013. http://www.nndb.com/people/572/000025497/. Biographical information. December 2013. Goodwin, Sue. "American Cultural History "1900-1970"." February 2011. http://kclibrary.lonestar.edu/decade40.html (decadeX- 40,50,60 etc). Lone Star College Kingwoodlibrary. December 2013. Lee, Harper. The Biography Channel website. 2013. http://www.biography.com/people/harper-lee-9377021. December 2013. Steven J. Ross, Movies and American Society. "HISTORICAL AND CULTURAL CONTEXTS." The film foundation (n.d.): 109.