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To Kill A Mockingbird


Title: Historical Background for To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee Author: Trevor Last modified by: Win7 Created Date: 9/25/2002 4:01:10 AM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird
  • Background PowerPoint and Notes

Racial Segregation
  • January 1, 1863 Lincoln issued the Emancipation
    Proclamation, which declared freedom for all
  • Intended to weaken the Souths power during the
    U.S. Civil War
  • Although slaves were free, black people were
    affected by state laws that prevented equality
  • These laws were known as the Jim Crow Laws

Plessy vs. Ferguson
  • Strengthened the already popular Jim Crow Laws
  • In 1892, 30-year-old Homer Plessy was jailed for
    sitting in a white section of a railroad car
  • Plessy was 1/8th black, but under Louisiana law,
    he was considered colored and was supposed to
    ride in the colored car.
  • Plessy argued that his arrest was a violation of
    the Constitution
  • Ferguson, the judge, found Plessy GUILTY of
    refusing to leave the white car. See handout

Plessy vs. Ferguson
  • After an appeal, the case went to the Supreme
    Court, which upheld the decision and perpetuated
    the concept of separate but equal.
  • This enabled schools, courthouses, libraries,
    hotels, theaters, restaurants, public
    transportation, etc., to segregate coloreds
    from whites.

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Jim Crow Laws
  • From the 1880s to the 1960s most states enforced
    segregation through the Jim Crow laws named
    after a black-faced character in minstrel shows.
  • Through these laws legal punishments could be
    imposed on people for having contact with members
    of another race.

Jim Crow Laws
  • The term Jim Crow comes from the minstrel show
    song Jump Jim Crow written in 1828 and
    performed by Thomas Dartmouth Daddy Rice, a
    white English migrant to the U.S. and the first
    popularizer of blackface performance.
  • A caricature of a shabbily dressed rural black
    named Jim Crow became a standard character in
    minstrel shows.

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Jim Crow Guide
  • 1. A Black male could not offer his hand (to
    shake hands) with a White male because it
    implied being socially equal. Obviously, a Black
    male could not offer his hand or any other part
    of his body to a White woman, because he risked
    being accused of rape.
  •      2. Blacks and Whites were not supposed
    to eat together. If they did eat together, Whites
    were to be served first, and some sort of
    partition was to be placed between them.
  • 3. Under no circumstance was a Black
    male to offer to light the cigarette of a White
    female -- that gesture implied intimacy.
  •     4.  Blacks were not allowed to show
    public affection toward one another in public,
    especially kissing, because it offended Whites.
  • 5. Blacks were introduced to Whites,
    never Whites to Blacks.
  • 6.  Whites did not use courtesy titles
    of respect when referring to Blacks, for example,
    Mr., Mrs., Miss., Sir, or Ma'am. Instead, Blacks
    were called by their first names or by boy or
    girl (regardless of age). Blacks had to use
    courtesy titles when referring to Whites, and
    were not allowed to call them by their first
  •      7. If a Black person rode in a car
    driven by a White person, the Black person sat in
    the back seat, or the back of a truck.
  • 8. White motorists had the
    right-of-way at all intersections.

  • Blacks were expected to refer to whites with
    titles of superiority like BOSS, SIR, CAPTAIN,
    MISS, or MRS.
  • Whites referred to blacks using derogatory terms
    like BOY, LADY, GIRL and the N word.
  • Blacks were expected to let whites walk on the
    sidewalk and signs reading things like Negroes
    and Dogs Not Allowed were common

  • After the Civil War, The Ku Klux Klan was formed
    as a secret society that promoted white supremacy
    using violence and terrorism to undo the gains
    that former slaves had made.
  • However, after the 1920s the KKK was no longer
    secretive about their work and public violence
    against Blacks, including lynching, became common

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After WW1
  • Even though Blacks had fought bravely for the US
    in WW1, they returned home from Europe to find
    the same, if not worse, discrimination and
  • The economic struggles of the 1930s seemed only
    to worsen the situation.

Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
  • Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?
  • I am a Negro American
  • Out to defend my land
  • Ive seen my buddy lying
  • Where he fell.
  • Ive watched him dying
  • I promised him that I would try
  • To make our land a land
  • Where his son could be a man
  • And thered be no Jim Crow birds
  • Left in our sky
  • So this is what I want to know
  • When we see Victorys glow,
  • Will you still let old Jim Crow
  • hold me back?

The Scottsboro Trials
  • In 1931, a fight between white and black teen
    boys occurred on a train between Tennessee and
  • Two girls on a train, one well-known prostitute
    and one minor, were accused of violating the Mann
    Act (crossing state lines for prostitution).
  • They immediately accused all nine black men of

The Scottsboro Trials
  • Eight of the nine boys were sentenced to death
    despite the fact that they were not even all in
    the same rail car.
  • Appeals continued for years and only two were
  • See excerpt

The Great Depression (1930s)
  • The Depression hit the South especially hard
  • Everyone, seemed to be living in poverty
  • Americans turned away from the rest of the world
    and away from each other
  • During these years of turmoil, discontent started
    to grow in the minds of Whites and Blacks alike.

The Great Depression
  • Overspending in the 1920s
  • Stock Market crash of 1929
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal
  • World War II

To kill a Mockingbird
  • It is in this setting that the novel To Kill a
    Mockingbird takes place.
  • In a small town, in the deep South, in the early

Harper Lee (1926-)
  • To add to the complexity of the story, Harper Lee
    wrote it during a time of even greater social
    turbulence in the United States.
  • In the 1950s the winds of change began to blow
    and Black Americans were no longer willing to be
    treated as lesser human beings.

Harper Lee
  • Born Nelle Harper Lee, April 28, 1926
  • Grew up during the Great Depression
  • Grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, in the heart of
    the South, where racial tension was high
  • Dad was a lawyer
  • Mothers maiden name was Finch

Brown vs. Board of Education
  • In 1954, after 2 years in court, the nation was
    shocked by a landmark decision to grant Linda
    Brown, a Black fifth-grader, admission into a
    white elementary school in Topeka, Kansas.
  • The decision engendered feelings of triumph and
    outrage across a country that had lived under the
    weight of racial segregation and discrimination
    for over 100 years.

The Winds of Change
  • Soon, average Black citizens across the country
    began speaking out against oppression and
    demanding equal rights. This was the beginning
    of Americas Civil Rights Movement.

Rosa Parks (1913-)
  • In 1955, after a long day of work, 42-year-old
    Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white
    man on a Montgomery County bus
  • This set off peaceful and violent protests
    throughout the South.

Television Changes Everything
  • By this time, many families had televisions and
    as images of Southern race riots and violent
    protests reached into American homes the
    magnitude of Southern racism began to sink into
    the American consciousness.
  • Moreover, the rest of the world began to frown
    upon Americas treatment of Blacks, and
    segregation, like slavery, became a national
    embarrassment for a country who had fought in two
    world wars as great liberators of the
    down-trodden masses.

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Dr. Martin Luther King (1929-1968)
  • Black Hero-Leaders began to rally together Black
    Americans in order to fight oppression and for a
    country where all men were truly treated as

  • A national and international call for
    desegregation of the South rang out and Blacks
    and Whites all over the country started putting
    pressure on governments to amend the segregation
  • Those individuals, both Black and White, who
    fought for Civil Rights were under constant
    attack from White Supremacists who were unwilling
    to accept Black Americans as equals
  • Many freedom-fighters died for their efforts

To Kill a Mockingbird
  • In the Fall of 1960, in the middle of the Civil
    Rights Movement, To Kill a Mockingbird was
  • It shot to the top of the New York Times best
    seller list.
  • A country was finally ready to listen to the
    story of segregation and open their minds to the
    possibility of an America where Whites and Blacks
    could live together as equals.

  • I have a dream that my four little children
    will one day live in a nation where they will
    not be judged by the color of their skin, but by
    the content of their character."
  • Dr. Martin Luther King

History of the Novel
  • Harper Lees novel is one of the best-selling
    books in the nations history.
  • Won the Pulitzer Prize
  • Translated into more than 40 languages
  • Been made into an enormously popular movie
  • Librarians across the country voted it the best
    novel of the 20th century.

History of the Novel cont.
  • Frequently cited by readers as the book that has
    made the biggest difference in their lives.
  • Through the lives of children, it allows the
    reader to walk around in the shoes of people who
    are different from ourselves.
  • The novel challenges our stereotypesof the
    Southerner, of the African American, the
    eccentric, the child, and the young lady.

Setting/ Basic Info
  • Maycomb Country, Alabama (fictional)
  • 1933-1935
  • Written Mid-50s
  • Narrator Scout Finch
  • 1st person narrator
  • Use flashback
  • Tonechildlike, humorous, innocent as the novel
    progresses, dark, foreboding, and critic of
  • She bases Scout somewhat on herself
  • Scout has matured over the years and humorously
    comments on the innocence she displayed in her
    thoughts / actions as a young girl
  • She mostly tells of her thoughts but focuses on
    her brother Jems thoughts also

Jem Finch
  • Scouts older brother
  • He undergoes a transformation from innocent child
    to a young adult who is faced with the realities
    of living in his small town and what prejudices
    exist right outside his front porch.

Atticus Finch
  • Father and only parent to Scout and Jem Finch
  • Local lawyer like Lees biological father
  • He is the lawyer who is defending a black man
    accused of raping a teenage girl in the 1930s
    during the midst of the Great Depression.

Major Thematic Ideas
  • Remember a theme is usually in sentence form.
    These are the thematic ideas.
  • Prejudicethe most obvious
  • Equal justice
  • Courage moral, physical, and mental
  • Social ostracism (exclusion)
  • Maturation
  • Heroism
  • Friendship
  • Innocence and what can happen to it

Literary Terms Focus
  • Allusionreference within a literary work to
    another fiction work, a film, a piece of art, or
    a real event.
  • Positives A way of drawing on this outside work
    / object to provide greater context / meaning to
    the situation being discussed
  • Negatives People may not always understand or
    know the work or object being referenced
  • Example
  • His love for her drove him to stamp out her life
    like Othello did to Desdemona.

Literary Terms Focus
  • Symbol people, places, or things used to
    represent something else in literature
  • Personal certain objects mean certain things to
  • Cultural Hang on Sloopy OSU
  • Universal

Literary Terms Focus
  • Idiom Meaning cannot be deduced from literal
    definitions or arrangement of words
  • Figurative meaning must be used instead
  • Examples
  • Sitting around waiting is making me antsy.
  • Life has been difficult for you recently, but
    keep your chin up. Everything will be better
  • He says nice things to me when were together,
    but he makes jokes about me when we arent. Hes
  • That really gets my goat. (From TKAM)

Connection to Life
  • Mini-Writing Assignment1-2 paragraphs due by
    Thursday 01/08
  • Think about your early childhood or now
  • Were there any houses on your street you were
    afraid of?
  • Were there any legends or scary stories you were
    told about someone on your street, family member,
    teacher, etc. that you believed?
  • Was there anyone you lived near but never saw?
  • Was there anyone at school you heard stories
    about that were not true but you believed and
  • Think for a few minutes about this mysterious or
    scary person or experience and write it down.
    Explain the outcome as well. COME UP WITH
    SOMETHING!! Make it creativelike a short
  • Must be typed or handwritten in MLA with 4
    line heading, header with last name and page
    number, title, double spaced, etc.

The End