To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee in 1960, has become one of the most significant classic books in American Literature. The book starts with Scout being in adult, looking back to her life: her father, Atticus and his trial, her brother Jem, and her strange, mistaken neighbor, “Boo” Radley. To Kill a Mockingbird contains two plots that tie together at the end. The first plot is the story about her weird neighbor, Boo, who is believed to be bullied by his father and lives a remote life in his shuttered house. Scout and Jem lunch many adventures in order to discover the identity, the real fear that hides under that mysterious house, only to find out that Boo is a hero to their life, especially to Scout. The second plot centers on the trial of a black man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of raping a white woman. Atticus tries his best to defend the innocent man in the prejudiced, biased world. Nevertheless, the client is hanged due to the injustice of the society of Maycomb town.
After its publication in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird earns much acclaims for its moral impacts. There are two main themes in this powerful novel: tolerance and integrity. When Scout discovers who Boo Radley actually is, she has great empathy and tolerance to him. The novel also emphasizes the importance of integrity in court system. In 1961, To Kill a Mockingbird won Pulitzer Prize within only 80 weeks. Now, it has been translated to 40 different languages and sold more than 30 million copies throughout the world. To Kill A Mockingbird is truly the book that changes human society.
Nelle Harper Lee was born in the boiling era that many resistances of racism provoked. Around 1930s, 25% of the American population lost their jobs in the Great Depression. In 1932, President Franklin D. Roosevelt promised the “New Deals.” Turning to 1940s, Jackie Robinson became the first African American baseball player to play in Major Leagues after signing a contract with Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. During the 1950s, Rosa Parks, an African American activist, got arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man. In 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” Speech, which further encouraged people to rebel against segregating government. The Civil Rights Act was established in 1964, which ended the discrimination in the United States. One year later, Malcolm X got killed by his own people when he was trying to give a speech of non-violent protests. Jim Crow Laws were racial segregation that restricted many rights of black people, and it was proposed first in 1878 and ended completely in 1965. The term “Jim Crow” was known when a white musician painted himself black and sang “Jump Jim Crow” song while imitating black people’s dancing style in order to degrade them. Even though the Civil War was over and Thirteenth Amendment was published, racial discrimination was still promoted by the government, and it did not stop until overwhelming rage and resistance rose up from black people.
Nelle Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She befriended with Truman Capote, living next to her house. Lee’s father was a lawyer, who once tried to defend two black men accused of murdering a white shopkeeper. Both two clients were hanged later on. As a young girl, Lee was a tomboy, resisted any form of conformity. She got bored of school, but she fortunately met an English teacher who introduced advanced, rigorous literature and high expectation of writing processes to her. In spite of the will of her father to becoming a lawyer, she quit law school and went to New York City to pursue writing career in 1947. There, she wrote many short stories, and with a help of an editor for J. B. Lippincott, Tay Hohoff, she compiled all her pieces, marking the first sight of producing To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee struggled to write numerous drafts at first; once, she threw her drafts out of the window in her apartment in a snowy night. In the morning, she called Hohoff, and he calmly told her to retrieve her works, because he saw potentials in her. After two years of hard work and anxiety, Lee finally published To Kill a Mockingbird, with the title that had been changed three times. The motivation to write the book came from her hometown; her father was much embodied Atticus Finch, a dignified man who also fails to defend Tom Robinson case of raping white woman. Although many people wanted Lee to publish another novel, she remained silence for the rest of her life. Harper Lee and Truman Capote were friends for about five years. During that time, Lee helped Capote research while he was writing his famous In Cold Blood. Their relationship, however, strained due to Capote’s drugs and alcohols abuses.
Following the novel To Kill a Mockingbird’s success, a movie was filmed in 1962. Initially, Universal Studios chose Rock Hudson to play Atticus Finch, but they changed and invited Gregory Peck, a famous Hollywood actor, to take Hudson’s role. Movie crews asked Lee to write the screenplay for the movie, but she denied, saying that she would rather let experienced screenwriter take over the job. Horton Foote later agreed to write the screenplay, and Lee greatly praised Foote’s work as classic. At first the crews filmed To Kill a Mockingbird in Lee’s hometown, Monroeville, but when it lost its charm, they moved to Southern California and settled there. To Kill a Mockingbird movie was nominated eight Academy Awards and it won four of them, including best leading role actor and best original screenplay.