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To Kill A Mockingbird


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Title: To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Harper Lee

Author Information
  • Nelle Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926) is an
    American novelist known for her 1960 Pulitzer
    Prize-winning novel To Kill A Mockingbird.
  • Lee was born in the small, southwestern Alabama
    town of Monroeville.
  • The youngest of four children, Lee was born to
    Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch
  • Her father worked as a newspaper editor as well
    as a lawyer and eventually served on the Alabama
    State Legislature from 1926-1938.

Author Information
  • As a child, Lee was a tomboy yet a committed
  • She also enjoyed a childhood friendship with
    Truman Capote.
  • After graduating from high school in Monroeville,
    Lee enrolled at Huntingdon College in Montgomery

Author Information
  • After Huntingdon, Lee pursued a degree in law
    from the University of Alabama (1945-1949).
  • While there, she wrote several student
    publications and spent a year as editor of the
    campus humor magazine, Rammer Jammer.

Author Information
  • Though she did not complete her law degree, she
    pursued studies for a summer in Oxford, England
    before eventually moving to New York City in
  • In New York, Lee worked full time as a
    reservation clerk for Eastern Airlines.
  • She worked with the airline until the late 1950s
    when she devoted herself full time to writing.
  • She lived a frugal lifestyle, traveling between
    her cold-water-only apartment in New York and her
    family home in Alabama to care for her ailing

Author Information
  • Having only written several long stories, Lee was
    hesitant to begin a career as a writer however,
    within a year, she had completed the first draft
    of the novel that would bring her world-wide
  • Working closely with her editor, she completed To
    Kill A Mockingbird in the summer of 1959.

Author Information
  • The novel was first published on July 11, 1960.
    It became an immediate bestseller and won her
    critical acclaim.
  • In 1961, she won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
  • Today, there are over 15 million copies in print,
    and a 1999 poll voted To Kill A Mockingbird as
    the Best Novel of the Century

Author Information
  • I never expected any sort of success with
    Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and
    merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but,
    at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would
    like it enough to give me encouragement. Public
    encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said,
    but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways
    this was just about as frightening as the quick,
    merciful death Id expected.
  • Harper Lee, 1964

Author Information
  • After the success of Mockingbird Lee accompanied
    Truman Capote to Holcomb, Kansas to assist him in
    researching what they thought would be an article
    on a small towns response to the murder of a
    farmer and his family. Capote expanded the
    material into his best-selling book, In Cold
  • Since the publication of Mockingbird Lee has
    granted almost no requests for interviews or
    public appearances, and with the exception of a
    few short essays, she has published no further
  • She did work on another novel for years,
    eventually filing it away as unpublished.

Author Information
  • In 1962, Mockingbird was transformed into a
    wildly successful film, starring Gregory Peck as
    Atticus Finch.
  • The film won two Academy Awards for Screenplay
    (Horton Foote) and Best Actor (Gregory Peck).

Author Information
Author Information
Author Information
Southern Gothic Literature
  • Southern Gothic Literature is a subgenre of the
    Gothic writing style.
  • It relies on the supernatural, ironic or unusual
    events to guide the plot.
  • Often it uses these tools (characters) to explore
    social issues and reveal the cultural character
    of the American South.
  • Many Southern Gothic writers avoid general
    southern stereotypes like the demure Southern
    belle, the chivalrous gentleman, or the
    righteous Christian preacher.
  • Instead the author presents the characters in a
    more modern and realistic manner.

Southern Gothic Literature
  • One of the most notable features of Southern
    Gothic Literature is The Grotesque.
  • This includes situations, places or stock
    characters that possess negative qualities (i.e.
    racial bigotry, self-righteousness).
  • Many writers use flawed characters to further
    highlight the unpleasant nature of Southern

Southern Gothic Literature
  • William Faulkner
  • 1897-1962
  • The Sound and the Fury
  • As I Lay Dying
  • Absalom, Absalom!
  • Light in August
  • A Rose for Emily

Southern Gothic Literature
  • Flannery OConner
  • 1925-1964
  • Wise Blood
  • The Violent Bear It Away
  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories
  • Everything That Rises Must Converge

Southern Gothic Literature
  • Tennessee Williams
  • 1911-1983
  • A Streetcar Named Desire
  • Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
  • The Glass Menagerie

Southern Gothic Literature
  • Truman Capote
  • 1924-1984
  • In Cold Blood
  • Breakfast at Tiffanys

Southern Gothic Literature
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • 1933-
  • Child of God
  • All the Pretty Horses
  • No Country For Old Men

The Scottsboro Boys
  • The case of the Scottsboro boys arose in
    Scottsboro, AL during the 1930s when nine black
    youths (ranging from 16-20) were accused of
    raping two white women.
  • The trial is considered one of the worst American
    judicial travesties.

The Scottsboro Boys
  • All the defendants were found guilty and
    sentenced to death.
  • Despite the fact that one of the woman denied
    being raped, the appeals courts found them guilty
    as well.
  • Finally the case was appealed all the way to the
    Supreme Court where the sentences were
  • All of the defendants were eventually acquitted,
    paroled and pardoned after serving years in

  • The American Civil War (1861-1865) had staggering
    and long-lasting effects on the nation.
  • More than 600,000 Americans were killed. Property
    damage was enormous, especially in the South.
  • Many Southern cities, factories, plantations and
    railroads lay in ruin.
  • Between 1865-1877 the Union restored relations
    with the Confederate states in hopes of
    rebuilding the South.
  • Reconstruction was only partially successful.
  • The South lagged behind the rest of the nation
    economically, largely remaining an agricultural

  • During Reconstruction, there was a lack of
    support from most Southern whites.
  • Many Southern whites could not accept the idea
    that former slaves were now landowners as well as
    voters and eventually holding office.
  • In time, Southern whites regained control of
    their state legislature and many of the rights
    slaves had won were quickly taken away.
  • Lees fictional small town of Maycomb is an
    isolated setting. The outside perspective and
    industrialization has changed it little.
  • Maycombs citizens, by and large, hold the same
    opinions as their grandparents.

  • The story begins in the summer of 1933 and ends
    on Halloween night, 1935.
  • The country is faced with widespread poverty and
    unemployment due to the Great Depression.
  • Former slaves work as field workers or house
    servants, whereas white land owners grow and
    trade crops. Both groups are cash poor.
  • Situated 20 miles southeast of the nearest river
    and more than 30 miles from Selma, Maycomb is
    slow to respond to any type of change.
  • Because of location, new ideas and newcomers are
    not easily accepted.

Point of View
  • Lee uses Scout Finch as a first person narrator.
    Every experience is seen through Scouts eyes.
  • First person affords an increased sense of
    immediacy, a sense of actually experiencing the
  • The voice (Scout) is reflective, increasing the
    meaning for the narrator.
  • Scouts inexperienced nature create an innocence
    in her character.
  • Her openness and sensibilities give credibility
    to the opinions and judgments she makes.

Themes Prejudice
  • Prejudice is the intellectual and moral bias of
    people who hold strict opinions without having
    examined the available facts.
  • Most white people in Maycomb believe that
    prejudice against blacks must strictly upheld if
    southern society is to be preserved.
  • Prejudice often leads characters to hypocrisy.
    Sometimes the hypocrisy is unintentional. The
    missionary circle ladies and Miss Gates are
    unaware of the depth of their prejudice.

Themes Understanding (Coming of Age)
  • Atticus teaches Jem and Scout the importance of
    seeing life from another persons point of view.
  • The children learn to respect the behavior of
    very different people (Mrs. Dubose, Boo Radley,
    Tom Robinson).
  • Scout fails to understand the Ewell family
    because their background and behavior are so
    unlike all else in her experience.
  • Understanding is seen as the key to peaceful
    coexistence between the two communities.

Themes Loss of Innocence
  • Scout is innocent and inexperienced. Her world is
    determined by the boundaries of her community.
  • The arrival of Dill gives Scout her first
    impression of the variety of lifes experiences.
  • Scout outgrows her childish superstitions and
    better understands the tragic results of
  • The verdict leads Scout to question the nature of
    justice and wisdom displayed by the townspeople.
  • Ultimately, Scout realizes Boo is the
    mockingbird. She has come to understand how
    another person sees the world.

Themes Education
  • The classroom is a microcosm of Maycomb society.
  • Education is seen as a force that separate them.
  • Mrs. Caroline relates to the students according
    to family type and status such behavior
    perpetuates prejudices.

Themes Religion
  • Mr. Radley, a very strict Baptist, treats Boo
    cruelly, without compassion.
  • Miss Maudies directness and honesty are
    contrasted sharply with the hypocrisy of the
    missionary tea ladies.

Themes A Time for Courage
  • Jem demonstrates courage by touching the Radley
    house. Later, he returns for his pants.
  • Atticus shoots a rabid dog with one shot.
  • Atticus is seen as a moral compass. (Ex. Atticus
    vs. mob)
  • Atticus explains to Jem and Scout that courage
    consists of confronting a situation or accepting
    a challenge when failure is likely. (Ex. Mrs.
    Duboses struggle to end her addiction)
  • Atticus defends Tom Robinson to the best of his
    abilities, refusing to be intimidated or
    compromised, even though he knows Tom has little
    change of being saved.
  • Bob Ewell, a coward, attacks the children in the

Themes Coexistence of Good and Evil
  • The novel explores the moral nature within
    humanity. Are people essentially good or evil?
  • The children assume Maycomb is good because they
    have not truly encountered evil.
  • Tom and Boo are not prepared for the evil they
    encounter, thus, they are destroyed.
  • Jem discovers racism at the conclusion of the
    trial and internalizes these struggles.

Themes Coexistence of Good and Evil
  • Atticus understands evil without losing his faith
    in humanity and the goodness of man.
  • Atticus understands mankind possesses both good
    and bad qualities.
  • Atticus believes mankind must appreciate the good
    qualities and understand the bad qualities by
    treating others with sympathy and trying to see
    life from their perspective.

Themes Coexistence of Good and Evil
  • Atticuss teaching culminates when Scout sees Boo
    Radley as a human being rather than a monster.
  • This newfound ability to view the world from this
    perspective ensures that she will not become
    jaded as she loses her innocence.