how to kill a mocking bird

Southern life and racial injustice

—Claudia Johnson in To Kill a Mockingbird: Threatening Boundaries, 1994[53]

When the book came out, critics pointed out that it was split into two sections, and opinions regarding Lee’s ability to make the connections between them were divided. [54] The children’s fascination with Boo Radley and their sense of security and comfort in the neighborhood are the main topics of the first section of the book. The observations made by Scout and Jem about their eccentric neighbors won over most reviewers. One writer labeled the book as Southern romantic regionalism after being deeply moved by Lee’s in-depth descriptions of the Maycomb residents. [55] This sentimentalism is evident in Lee’s use of the Southern caste system to interpret the actions of nearly every character in the book. The narrator situates the action and characters against a meticulously detailed backdrop of the Finch family history and the history of Maycomb. Scouts Aunt Alexandra attributes the advantages and disadvantages of Maycomb’s residents to their genealogy—that is, families with propensities for drinking and gambling. Mayella Ewell’s seeming inability to acknowledge her advances toward Tom Robinson and Scout’s definition of “fine folks” as sensible people who make the best of their circumstances are two more examples of this regionalist theme. The narrative appears to be driven more by the South itself, with its customs and taboos, than by the characters. [55].

Harding LeMay, a book reviewer, described the second half of the book as “the spirit-corroding shame of the civilized white Southerner in the treatment of the Negro.” [34] Many critics viewed To Kill a Mockingbird as a book primarily about racial relations in the years after its publication. [57] According to Claudia Durst Johnson, it is “reasonable to believe” that two incidents involving racial issues in Alabama—the 1956 riots at the University of Alabama following the admission of Autherine Lucy and Polly Myers (Myers eventually withdrew her application and Lucy was expelled, but reinstated in 1980)—and Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a city bus to a white person, which sparked the Montgomery bus boycott—influenced the novel. [58] Two other literary scholars comment on the historical setting in which the novel was written: “To Kill a Mockingbird was written and published during the most momentous and contentious social change in the South since the Civil War and Reconstruction. The story told from the perspective of the 1950s inevitably voices the conflicts, tensions, and fears induced by this transition, despite its mid-1930s setting. “[59].

Academic Patrick Chura lists the injustices that Till and the fictional Tom both experienced, arguing that Emmett Till served as a model for Tom Robinson. The image of the black rapist harming the mythologized vulnerable and sacred Southern womanhood is noted by Chura. [27] During the period the novel is set, black males who committed offenses that even suggested they had sex with white females were frequently sentenced to death. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, a jury of impoverished white farmers found Tom Robinson guilty at his trial; the verdict was supported by more educated and moderate white town residents. In addition, the racial injustice sufferer in To Kill a Mockingbird suffered from physical impairments that not only prevented him from committing the alleged crime but also severely crippled him in other ways. According to Roslyn Siegel ([27]), black men are often depicted by white Southern writers as “stupid, pathetic, defenseless, and dependent upon the fair dealing of the Whites, rather than his own intelligence to save him.” Tom Robinson is one example of this. [60] Tom is shot seventeen times in an attempt to escape from prison, but he is not lynched, despite being spared from that fate.

In the book, the issue of racial injustice also makes a symbolic appearance. For instance, even though it is not his responsibility, Atticus has to shoot a rabid dog. [61] According to Carolyn Jones, the dog is a symbol of prejudice in the town of Maycomb, and Atticus, who waits on a deserted street to shoot the dog, is the only one who can combat the racism in the community without assistance from other white residents. He is also by himself when he confronts a group that wants to lynch Tom Robinson and again in the courtroom when Tom is being tried. Lee even describes some of the courtroom scenes with the dreamlike ry from the mad dog incident. “The racism that denies Tom Robinson’s humanity is the real mad dog in Maycomb,” writes Jones. Atticus genuinely exposes himself to the jury and the ire of the town when he gives his summation to them. “[62].

In 1964, Lee stated in an interview that her goal was “to be the Jane Austen of South Alabama. “[44] Austen and Lee both questioned the established social order and prioritized personal value over social position. One day, when Scout humiliates Walter Cunningham, a less fortunate classmate, at the Finch residence, their black cook Calpurnia chastises and punishes her. [64] Atticus respects Calpurnia’s opinion and, later in the novel, even defies his formidable sister Aunt Alexandra when she insists that they fire Calpurnia. [65] A writer observes that Scout parodies women “in Austenian fashion” that she does not want to associate with. The priorities that both authors share are listed in [66] literary critic Jean Blackall as follows: “affirmation of order in society, obedience, courtesy, and respect for the individual without regard for status.” [44].

Scholars contend that rather than “primarily attributing racial prejudice to poor white trash,” Lees’ approach to class and race was more nuanced. Lee shows how class and gender differences amplify discrimination, muzzle those who might question the status quo, and significantly muddy the perception of racism and segregation among many Americans. “[59] Lees’ use of the middle-class narrative voice is a literary device that creates a nostalgic feeling and fosters an intimacy with the reader regardless of class or cultural background. By understanding Scout and Jem’s viewpoint, the reader is permitted to interact with the traditional antebellum Mrs. Dubose; the impoverished but reclusive Mr. Cunningham; the lower-class Ewells and the Cunninghams who are equally impoverished but act very differently Dolphus Raymond, as well as Calpurnia and additional African American community members The kids absorb Atticus’ advice to never pass judgment on someone before putting themselves in that person’s shoes in order to better comprehend people’s intentions and actions. [59].

What inspired Harper Lee to write To Kill a Mockingbird?

It is commonly accepted that Harper Lee drew inspiration for Atticus Finch from her father, the devoted and caring attorney Amasa Coleman Lee. It has been reported that his unsuccessful defense of two African American men, a father and a son, accused of killing a white storekeeper served as inspiration for part of the plot of To Kill a Mockingbird. There is a real-life counterpart to Charles Baker (“Dill”) Harris, the fictional character. Dill is modeled after author Truman Capote, who lived next door to Lee in Monroeville, Alabama, and was a childhood friend. (After To Kill a Mockingbird’s enormous success, there were rumors that Truman Capote was the real author of Lee’s writings.) This rumour was not put to rest until 2006. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that Son Boulware, Lee and Capote’s childhood neighbor, served as the model for the town recluse Arthur (“Boo”) Radley. Boo “was a real man, and he lived just down the road from us,” according to Capote. …Everything [Lee] wrote about it is absolutely true. ”.

Gender roles

As Lee delves into Jem’s journey of understanding a discriminatory and unfair society, Scout comes to terms with her gender identity, with multiple female characters having a significant impact on her growth. Scout is able to characterize the diversity and complexity of female characters in the book from both insider and outsider perspectives because of her primary identification with her father and older brother. [49] Calpurnia and Miss Maudie, her neighbor, serve as Scouts’ main role models because they are both independent, strong-willed, and protective. Scout observes Mayella Ewell demolish an innocent man to conceal her feelings for him, demonstrating her influence. The female characters that criticize Scout the most for not wanting to conform to a more feminine role are also the ones that advance the most racist and classist viewpoints. [66] For example, Mrs. Dubose insults Atticus’s plans to stand up for Tom Robinson and chastises Scout for not donning a dress and camisole, saying that she is tarnishing the family name by not doing so. One academic notes, “Lee gradually demonstrates that Scout is becoming a feminist in the South, for with the use of first-person narration, she indicates that Scout/Jean Louise still maintains the ambivalence about being a Southern lady she possessed as a child.” This is achieved by striking a balance between the feminine influences of Miss Maudie and Calpurnia and the masculine influences of Atticus and Jem. “[66].

Another theme in the book is father abuse and absent mothers. Scout’s mother passed away before she could even recall her, Mayella’s mother passed away, and Mrs. Radley is silent about Boos confinement to the house. Apart from Atticus, the fathers described are abusers. It is hinted that [73] Bob Ewell molested his daughter, [74] and Mr. Radley confines his son so much in his home that Boo is only ever thought of as a ghost. Bob Ewell and Mr. The book makes the argument that men like Radley, along with the stereotypically feminine hypocrites at the Missionary Society, have the potential to mislead society because they embody a masculinity that Atticus does not. As one academic puts it, “It is the job of real men who embody the traditional masculine qualities of heroic individualism, bravery, and an unshrinking knowledge of and dedication to social justice and morality, to set the society straight.” Atticus stands out as a unique model of masculinity. “[73].

FAQ

What is To Kill a Mockingbird about short summary?

To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1961 novel by Harper Lee. Set in small-town Alabama, the novel is a bildungsroman, or coming-of-age story, and chronicles the childhood of Scout and Jem Finch as their father Atticus defends a Black man falsely accused of rape.

What is the point of To Kill a Mockingbird?

To Kill a Mockingbird, by American author Harper Lee, was published during the civil rights movement and uses its characters to explore the consequences of hatred and prejudice.

How To Kill a Mockingbird what is the book about?

To Kill a Mockingbird is both a young girl’s coming-of-age story and a darker drama about the roots and consequences of racism and prejudice, probing how good and evil can coexist within a single community or individual.

Is To Kill a Mockingbird Based on a true story?

To Kill a Mockingbird has become a classic of modern American literature; a year after its release, it won the Pulitzer Prize. The plot and characters are loosely based on Lee’s observations of her family, her neighbors and an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, in 1936, when she was ten.