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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD BY HARPER LEE Biography: HARPER LEE Born in 1926, Harper Lee grew up in depression-era Monroeville, Alabama. The youngest of four children, Lee ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Biography HARPER LEE
  • Born in 1926, Harper Lee grew up in
    depression-era Monroeville, Alabama. The youngest
    of four children, Lee followed her attorney
    father into law.
  • Lee attended the University of Alabama law school
    and spent the 1950's working for Eastern Airlines
    and writing short stories. On the suggestion of
    her editor, Lee developed one of her short
    stories into her only novel, To Kill A
    Mockingbird, published in 1960.
  • The novel won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and spent
    80 weeks on the bestseller list. It has been
    translated into 40 languages and there are over
    30 million copies in print.

Biography HARPER LEE
  • Mockingbird's success also inspired the box
    office smash, To Kill a Mockingbird, starring
    Gregory Peck.
  • Lee published several essays in the early 1960s
    but, as a true literary recluse, has published
    nothing since then and refuses all requests for
  • Now 74, the elusive Lee divides her time between
    Monroeville and New York City.

Summary 1
  • The story of To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in
    Alabama in the Depression, and is narrated by the
    main character, a little girl named Scout Finch.
  • Her father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer with high
    moral standards. She and her brother, Jem, and
    their friend Dill are intrigued by the local
    rumours about a man named Boo Radley who lives in
    their neighbourhood but never sets foot from his
  • Legend has it that he once stabbed his father in
    the leg with a pair of scissors, and he is made
    out to be a kind of monster. Dill is from
    Mississippi but spends his summer in Maycomb at a
    house near the Finches.

Summary 2
  • The children are curious to know more about Boo,
    and create a mini-drama to enact which tells the
    events of his life as they know them. They slowly
    begin moving closer to the house itself, which is
    said to be haunted. They try leaving notes for
    Boo on his windowsill, but are caught by Atticus,
    who firmly reprimands them.
  • Then they try sneaking to the house at night and
    looking through its windows. However, Boo's
    brother, Nathan Radley, who lives with him,
    thinks he hears a prowler and begins firing his
  • The children get away, though Jem loses his pants
    in a gate. When he returns, his ripped pants have
    been folded and roughly sewn up.

Summary 3
  • Other mysterious things happen to the Finch
    children. A certain tree near the Radley house
    has a hole in which little presents are often
    left for them, such as pennies and chewing gum.
    When they leave a note for the giver of these
    gifts, Boo's brother plugs up the hole the next
    day with cement.
  • The next winter brings unexpected cold and snows,
    and the house of the kind neighbour Miss Maudie
    catches on fire. While Jem and Scout, shivering,
    watch the blaze from near the Radley house,
    someone puts a blanket around Scout. She doesn't
    realise until afterwards that Boo Radley must
    have been the one to do this.

Summary 4
  • Atticus decides to take on a case involving a
    black man named Tom Robinson who has been accused
    of raping a very poor white girl named Mayella
    Ewell, a member of the notorious Ewell family,
    who belong to the layer of Maycomb society that
    people refer to as "trash.
  • The Finches all face harsh criticism in racist
    Maycomb because of Atticuss decision to defend
    Tom, but Atticus insists upon going through with
    the case because his conscience could not let him
    do otherwise.
  • He knows that Tom has almost no chance, because
    the white jury will never believe his story, but
    he wants to reveal the truth of what happened to
    his fellow townspeople as well as expose their

Summary 5
  • Scout and Jem find themselves whispered at and
    taunted, and they have trouble keeping their
    tempers. At a family Christmas gathering, Scout
    beats up her cloying relative Francis when he
    accuses Atticus of ruining the family name.
  • Jem cuts off the tops of an old neighbour's
    flower bushes after she derides Atticus, and then
    as punishment he has to read out loud to her
    every day while she breaks her morphine
  • Atticus holds this old woman up as an example of
    true courage the will to keep fighting even when
    you know you can't win.

Summary 6
  • The time for the trial draws closer, and
    Atticus's sister Alexandra comes to stay with the
    family. She is proper and old-fashioned and wants
    to shape Scout into the model of the Southern
    feminine ideal, much to Scout's resentment.
  • Dill runs away from his home, where his mother
    and new father don't seem interested in him, and
    stays in Maycomb for the summer of Tom's trial.
  • The night before the trial, Tom is moved into the
    county jail, and Atticus, fearing a possible
    lynching, stands guard outside the jail door all
    night. Jem is concerned about him, and the three
    children sneak into town to find him.

Summary 7
  • A group of men arrives ready to cause some
    violence to Tom, but Scout runs out and begins to
    speak to one of the men, the father of one of her
    classmates in school. Her innocence brings them
    out of their mob mentality, and they leave.
  • The trial pits the evidence of the white Ewells
    against Tom's evidence. According to the Ewells,
    Mayella asked Tom to do some work for her while
    her father was out, and Tom came into their house
    and forcibly beat and raped Mayella until her
    father appeared and scared him away.
  • Tom says that Mayella invited him inside, then
    threw her arms around him and began to kiss him.
    When her father arrived, he flew into a rage and
    beat her, while Tom ran away in fright.

Summary 8
  • According to the sheriff's testimony, Mayella's
    bruises were on the right side of her face. Tom
    Robinson's left arm is useless due to an old
    accident, whereas Mr. Ewell leads with his left.
  • Given the evidence, Tom should go free, but after
    hours of deliberation, the jury pronounces him
  • Though the verdict is unfortunate, Atticus feels
    some satisfaction that the jury took so long
    decidingusually the decision would be made in
    minutes, because a black man's word would not be
  • Atticus is hoping for an appeal, but
    unfortunately Tom tries to escape from his prison
    and is shot to death. Jem has trouble handling
    the results of the trial, feeling that his trust
    in the goodness and rationality of humanity has
    been betrayed.

Summary 9
  • Meanwhile, Mr. Ewell has been threatening Atticus
    and other people connected with the trial because
    he feels he was humiliated. He gets his revenge
    one night while Jem and Scout are walking home
    from Halloween play at their school. He follows
    them home in the dark, then runs at them and
    attempts to kill them.
  • Jem breaks his arm, and Scout, who wearing a
    confining costume, is helpless throughout the
    attack. However, the elusive Boo Radley stabs Mr.
    Ewell and saves them. Scout finally has a chance
    to meet the shy and nervous Boo. The sheriff
    declares that Mr. Ewell fell on his own knife so
    that Boo won't have to be tried for murder. Scout
    walks Boo home. He goes inside and she never sees
    him again.

  • Scout
  • Six-year-old Jean Louise "Scout" Finch narrates
    the novel.
  • A tomboy at heart, Scout works hard not to "act
    like a girl" by wearing overalls instead of
    dresses and beating up other children who
    antagonise her.
  • Scout spends her days playing outside with her
    older brother, Jem, and her best friend, Dill.
  • Extremely smart and bright for her age, Scout
    loves to read spends time reading with her
    father, Atticus, every night.
  • Being head strong, Scout often finds herself in
    trouble with her father, her housekeeper,
    Calpurnia, her neighbours, her aunt Alexandra,
    and her teachers.
  • Despite the rules of etiquette governing life in
    her small town, Scout voices her opinions and
    recognises hypocrisy and injustice in her elders.

  • Atticus
  • Father of Jem and Scout, Atticus Finch sits on
    the Alabama State Legislature and acts as
    Maycomb's leading attorney.
  • The epitome of moral character, Atticus teaches
    his children and his community how to stand up
    for one's beliefs in the face of prejudice and
    ignorance by defending a black man, Tom Robinson,
    wrongfully accused of raping a white woman.
  • Having lost his wife when Scout was two years
    old, Atticus devotes himself to his children
    despite criticism from family and neighbours who
    think his children lack discipline and proper
  • Atticus stands as one of literature's strongest
    and most positive father figures.

  • Jem
  • Ten years old when the book begins , Jeremy "Jem"
    Finch acts as Scout's playmate and protector.
  • Entering adolescence during the course of the
  • Jem matures as he struggles with issues of racism
    and intolerance.
  • On the brink of manhood, Jem goes through phases
    as he comes to grips with his family's past and
    his future role in society.
  • Sometimes moody and sullen, sometimes kind and
    gentle, Jem emerges as a leader as he helps Scout
    understand how to get along in school and reminds
    her to respect Atticus and their other elders.

  • Dill
  • Harper Lee based her character, Charles Baker
    "Dill" Harris, on her girlhood friend and famous
    writer, Truman Capote.
  • Spending his summers with his relative, Miss
    Rachel, in Maycomb, Dill, who is Scout's age,
    comes from a broken family.
  • Dill spins grand tales about his father but runs
    away from home late in the book because he feels
    his mother and step-father don't care about him.
  • During his summers however, he, Jem, and Scout
    entertain themselves by pretending they are
    characters in plays and attempting to coax Boo
    Radley out of his house.

  • Calpurnia The Finch's black housekeeper,
    Calpurnia acts as a mother figure and
    disciplinarian in the Finch household. Atticus
    trusts Calpurnia, relies on her for support
    raising his children, and considers her part of
    the family. Calpurnia also gives the children
    insight into her world when she takes them to her
  • Boo Radley Arthur "Boo" Radley is Maycomb's town
    recluse. Myths and rumours about Boo and his
    family abound. According to town gossip, Boo
    stabbed his father in the leg when he was a boy
    and has since been confined to his house. The
    children imagine Boo as a ghoulish figure who
    eats cats and stalks about the neighbourhood
    under the cover of night. In fact, Boo stands as
    a figure of innocence who befriends and protects
    the children in his own way.

  • Aunt Alexandra Atticus' sister, Aunt Alexandra
    is a proper Southern woman who maintains a strict
    code about with whom she and her family should
    associate. She criticises Atticus for letting
    Scout run wild and when she moves into their home
    during Tom Robinson's trial, Alexandra urges
    Scout to wear dresses and become a proper lady.
  • Tom Robinson The most important client of
    Atticus' career, Tom Robinson, a young, black
    man, is a church going, father of four accused of
    rape by Mayella Ewell.
  • Bob Ewell The father of eight, Bob Ewell, a
    white man, and his family live behind Maycomb's
    dump. Desperately poor, Ewell uses his welfare
    money to buy alcohol while his children go
    hungry. His nineteen year old daughter, Mayella,
    accuses Tom Robinson of rape and battery.

  • Miss Maudie Miss Maudie is the counterpoint to
    Aunt Alexandra. A neighbour to the Finch family,
    Maudie offers Scout a female role model opposite
    from Alexandra. Maudie respects the children and
    admires Atticus. Unlike the other women in the
    town, Maudie minds her own business and behaves
    without pretension or hypocrisy.
  • Walter Cunningham Walter Cunningham plays a
    small but important role in Mockingbird. A
    farming family, the Cunninghams occupy a middle
    position in Maycomb's class hierarchy above
    African American citizens and the Ewells but
    below Atticus and the Finch family. Honest and
    hard working, Walter Cunningham and his son are
    respectable community members who represent the
    potential in everyone to understand right from
    wrong despite ignorance and prejudice.

  • 1) Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired
    old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather
    the streets turned to red slop grass grew on
    sidewalks, the courthouse sagged in the square.
    Somehow, it was hotter then a black dog suffered
    on a summer's day bony mules hitched to Hoover
    carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of
    the live oaks on the square. Men's stiff collars
    wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed
    before noon, after their three-o'clock naps, and
    by nightfall were like soft teacakes with
    frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.Scout

  • 2) "What I meant was, if Atticus Finch drank
    until he was drunk he wouldn't be as hard as some
    men are at their best. There are just some kind
    of men whowho're so busy worrying about the next
    world they've never learned to live in this one,
    and you can look down the street and see the
    results." Miss Maudie
  • 3) "They're certainly entitled to think that, and
    they're entitled to full respect for their
    opinions," said Atticus, "but before I can live
    with other folks I've got to live with myself.
    The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule
    is a person's conscience." Atticus

  • 4) When he gave us our air-rifles Atticus
    wouldn't teach us to shoot. Uncle Jack instructed
    us in the rudiments thereof he said Atticus
    wasn't interested in guns. Atticus said to Jem,
    "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back
    yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all
    the bluejays you want, if you can hit em, but
    remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." That
    was the only time I ever hear Atticus say it was
    a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie
    about it. "You're father's right," she said.
    "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music
    for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's
    gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do
    one thing but sing their hearts out for us.
    That's why it's a sin to kill a mocking bird."

  • 5) "The witnesses for the statehave presented
    themselves to you gentlemen, to this court, in
    the cynical confidence that their testimony would
    not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen
    would go along with them on the assumptionthe
    evil assumptionthat all Negroes lie, that all
    Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all
    Negro men are not to be trusted around our women,
    an assumption one associates with minds of their
    caliber. Which, gentlemen, we know is in itself a
    lie as black as Tom Robinson's skin, a lie I do
    not have to point out to you. You know the truth,
    the truth is this some Negroes lie, some Negroes
    are immoral, some Negro men cannot be trusted
    around women, black or white. But this is a truth
    that applies to the human race and to no
    particular race of men"Atticus

  • 6) "I don't know how they could convict Tom
    Robinson, but they did it. They've done it
    before and they did it tonight and they'll do it
    again and when they do itseems that only
    children weep"Atticus talking to Jem
  • 7) "As you grow older, you'll see white men
    cheat black men every day of your life, but let
    me tell you something and don't you forget
    itwhenever a white man does that to a black man,
    no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine
    a family he comes from, that white man is

  • 8) "If there's just one kind of folks, why can't
    they get along with each other? If they're all
    alike, why do they go out of their way to despise
    each other? Scout, I think I'm beginning to
    understand something. I think I'm beginning to
    understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the
    house all this timeit's because he wants to stay
  • 9) "I'm not a very good man, sir, but I am
    sheriff of Maycomb County. Lived in this town all
    my life an' I'm goin' on forty-three years old.
    Know everything that's happened here since before
    I was born. There's a black boy dead for no
    reason, and the man responsible for it's dead.
    Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch.
    Let the dead bury the dead."Sheriff Tate

  • 10) "Neighbours bring food with death and flowers
    with sickness and little things in between. Boo
    was our neighbour. He gave us two soap dolls, a
    broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck
    pennies, and our lives. But neighbours give in
    return. We never put back into the tree what we
    took out of it we had given him nothing, and it
    made me sad."Scout

  • Mockingbird
  • The mockingbird represents innocence.
  • Like hunters who kill mockingbirds for sport,
    people kill innocence, or other people who are
    innocent, without thinking about what they are
  • Atticus stands firm in his defence of innocence
    and urges his children not to shoot mockingbirds
    both literally and figuratively.
  • The mockingbird motif arises four times during To
    Kill a Mockingbird. First, when Atticus gives Jem
    and Scout air guns for Christmas and instructs
    them not to kill mockingbirds.
  • Second, when B.B. Underwood writes about Tom
    Robinson's death in his column.
  • Third, a mockingbird sings right before Bob Ewell
    attacks Jem and Scout.
  • Finally, Scout agrees with Atticus that
    prosecuting Boo for Ewell's murder would be like
    killing a mockingbird.

  • Boo Radley
  • Boo Radley represents fear.
  • Small town folks fear that if they act eccentric
    and fail to adhere to social rules they too will
    end up like Boo, isolated and remembered as a
    grotesque monster.
  • It is this fear that supports the social status
    quo and keeps individuals from standing up for
    that which they believe. Until people can
    understand and accept Boo, as Scout does at the
    end of the book, they will always be stuck in a
    world filled with fear, lies, and ignorance.
  • Guns
  • Guns represent false strength. According to
    Atticus, guns do not prove manhood or bravery.
  • Manhood and bravery come from a man's ability to
    persevere and fight using his wits, his heart,
    and his character.
  • Neighbours use and venerate guns to the detriment
    of developing their own personal strength.

  • During the first half of Mockingbird Harper Lee
    constructs a sweet and affectionate portrait of
    growing up in the vanished world of small town
  • Lee, however, proceeds to undermine her portrayal
    of small town gentility during the second half of
    the book.
  • Lee dismantles the sweet façade to reveal a
    rotten, rural underside filled with social lies,
    prejudice, and ignorance.
  • But no one in Mockingbird is completely good or
    evil. Every character is human, with human flaws
    and weaknesses.
  • Lee even renders Atticus, the paragon of
    morality, symbolically weak by making him an old
    and widowed man as opposed to young and virile.
  • It is how these flawed characters influence and
    are influenced by the major themes underpinning
    their society.
  • Three major themes run through To Kill a
    Mockingbird education, bravery, and prejudice.

  • We learn how important education is to Atticus
    and his children in the first chapter when Jem
    announces to Dill that Scout has known how to
    read since she was a baby.
  • Atticus reads to the children from newspapers and
    magazines as if they are adults who can
    understand issues at his level.
  • By the time Scout attends her first day of
    school she is highly literate, far surpassing the
    other children in the classroom and frustrating
    her teacher whose task it is to teach her
    students according to a predetermined plan.

  • It soon becomes clear why Atticus thinks
    education is so important.
  • During his closing arguments Atticus explicitly
    acknowledges the ignorance blinding people's
    minds and hearts
  • "the witnesses for the statehave presented
    themselves to you gentlemenin the cynical
    confidence that their testimony would not be
    doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go
    along with them on theevil assumptionthat all
    Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically
    immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be
    trusted around our women, an assumption one
    associates with minds of their caliber".
  • Education is the key to unlocking the ignorance
    that causes such prejudice. Jem begins to
    understand this lesson toward the end of the book
    when he wonders whether family status could be
    based more on education than on bloodlines.

  • Jem also learns powerful lessons from his father
    regarding bravery and cowardice.
  • Early in Mockingbird we learn that Atticus does
    not approve of guns. He believes that guns do not
    make men brave and that the children's
    fascination with guns is unfounded.
  • To prove his point, he sends Jem to read for Mrs.
    Dubose who struggles to beat her morphine
    addiction before she dies.
  • He wants to show his son one shows true bravery
    "when you know you're licked before you begin but
    you begin anyway and you see it through no matter
  • Atticus also role models his sense of bravery by
    refusing to carry a gun to protect Tom Robinson
    from angry farmers and refusing to carry a gun to
    protect himself after Bob Ewell threatens to use
    a gun.

  • But bravery runs deeper than the decision to
    carry a gun. Atticus shows bravery when he takes
    Tom's case despite knowing that his town would
    turn against him and his children.
  • Jem shows bravery when the children intervene on
    behalf of Atticus and Jem refuses to leave his
    father's side during the showdown with farmers at
    the jailhouse.
  • And, perhaps the biggest lesson Scout must learn
    is to turn away and show real bravery rather than
    fight when people antagonise her.

  • The most important theme of Mockingbird remains
    the notion of prejudice in all of its forms.
  • Clearly, with the Tom Robinson case, Lee's
    characters deal with racial prejudice head on.
    References to black men as "niggers" and "boys"
    persist throughout the book.
  • Black people occupy the lowest class level of
    Maycomb society as Maycomb's white population of
    every class waste no time reinforcing their rigid
    class rules.
  • The fact that Atticus realises that he has no
    chance to win his case defending Tom because Tom
    is black offers the most explicit indicator of
    deep-rooted racism.
  • His closing argument in Chapter Twenty clearly
    outlines Atticus's views on racism. However, Lee
    also shows us prejudice as it pertains to gender
    and social class.
  • Although the entire town subscribes outwardly to
    traditional gender roles and class distinctions,
    Aunt Alexandra plays the greatest role in
    reinforcing these notions within the Finch

  • Alexandra believes that because the Finch family
    comes from a long line of landowners who have
    been the county for generations they deserve
    greater respect than do other people and they
    must comport themselves according to their
  • She refuses to associate with both black and
    white citizens alike because they do not fill the
    same social position.
  • Atticus, on the other hand, urges his children to
    sympathise with others and to "walk in their
    skin" before they judge or criticise others.
  • Scout suffers acutely from the stereotypes
    imposed upon her because of the rigid sexism and
    gender rules that govern southern life.
  • Although the characters do not explicitly deal
    with gender issues, Lee does offer several
    characters, Miss Maudie and Miss Stephanie in
    particular, who illustrate the broad spectrum of
    southern womanhood that lies beneath the
    simplistic "southern belle" stereotype.

  • Reflect on your reactions to the main characters
    in To Kill A Mockingbird - Scout, Atticus, Jem,
    Bill, Calpurnia, Tom Robinson, Mayella Ewell, Bob
    Ewell, and Boo Radley. Which of these did you
    find most likeable? Least likeable? Did any of
    the characters have some qualities you
    sympathised with and other qualities you didn't
    like? Jot down the likeable and unlikeable
    aspects of each of the characters, and compare
    your impressions and reasons for them with the
    responses of your classmates.
  • Literary characters are considered to be "flat"
    when they are presented by the author as
    one-sided and unchanging, behaving in ways that
    are predictable. Characters are considered
    "round" when they are depicted as having greater
    complexity and depth, some weaknesses and some
    strengths, and a wide range of human emotions

  • Which characters in the Harper Lee novel struck
    you as being more "flat" or more "round"? Why
    might an author create flat characters in a given
    work? Are the minor characters in To Kill A
    Mockingbird - e.g. Miss Maudie, Calpurnia, Aunt
    Alexandra, Miss Fisher (the schoolteacher),
    Nathan Radley, Mrs. Dubose, Mr. Cunningham,
    Sheriff Tate, and others - one dimensional, or do
    some have "round" qualities?
  • An important part of the novel is Harper Lee's
    characterisation of the three children - Scout,
    Jem, and Dill, who gain life experiences and
    mature as they face different problems and
    interact with the adults in the novel.

  • Think about your childhood and the way you viewed
    the other children and the adults in your
    environment. Discuss how your impressions of
    people changed or did not change as you gained
    experience and came to know people better over
    the years.
  • Many of the characters in the novel are depicted
    by the author as classifying each other according
    to rigid categories. They hold stereotypes about
    how individuals will behave as a result of their
    age, gender, race, social status, and other fixed
    categories. Which characters are the victims of
    stereotyping? Do any of them break through the
    behaviour expected of them, showing individuality
    and exposing the falseness of narrowly labelling

  • The novel begins as the voice of a mature adult
    recalling events from childhood and sometimes
    shifts to the point of view of a six-year old.
    Did you notice the shifts occurring? If so, did
    you find them distracting? How are these
    perspectives - the knowing adult's and the
    innocent child's - developed in the narration?
    What advantages did the author have as a result
    of being able to move from one perspective to the
  • W. E. B. DuBoise speaks of "double-consciousness"
    - the sense of having to look at oneself through
    the eyes of others. Which characters in To Kill A
    Mockingbird are basically forced to look at
    themselves through the lens of others, being
    expected to behave as other people want them to

  • Do you believe that the sense of "double
    consciousness" is still strong in our present
    society? That is, to what extent are people of
    different ethnicities, social classes, genders,
    and age levels essentially defined by others
    today? To what extent do you feel that you are
    forced to behave according to other's views of
    you? How are you affected when others define you?
    Consider how the person doing the defining is
  • Is some measure of "double consciousness"
    inevitable in human relations and in society?
    Why, or why not?

  • Compare the city of Maycomb to the place where
    you grew up, noting similarities and differences.
  • The story is set in a small town in southern
    Alabama during the Depression of the 1930s. What
    aspects of the story seem to be particular to
    that place and time? What aspects of the story
    are universal, cutting across time and place? In
    what ways are the people you know today similar
    to and different from those in Maycomb?

  • Did To Kill A Mockingbird hold your interest?
    What parts of the story held your interest most
    strongly? Why? What parts seemed less
    interesting? Why?
  • What are the chief conflicts in the story? Do
    they have clear starting points and resolutions?
    Were any conflicts left unresolved? Were any
    conflicts resolved in ways that you found
  • Many readers see To Kill A Mockingbird as having
    two parts, one centering on Boo Radley and the
    other on the trial of Tom Robinson. How were the
    two stories brought together at the end of the
    novel? When you were reading the novel, how did
    you handle the shift of emphasis from Boo Radley
    to the trial?

  • Certain objects take on symbolic value in the
    TKM. That is, an object is used by the author as
    apart of the setting or narrative, yet that
    object points to or represents something outside
    itself. Of course, a central symbol is the
    mockingbird, described by Miss Maudie as a
    creature that should never be killed because it
    is harmless and even provides song for the
    enjoyment of others. Both Boo Radley and Tom
    Robinson are basically blameless individuals who
    are at the mercy of society, yet society is cruel
    to Boo, and ultimately Tom is murdered. The
    symbol of the mockingbird also points to Scout,
    both as an innocent child and as the grown-up
    narrator, who "sings a song" in telling the

  • Can you think of ways in which the following
    function as symbols in the novel?
  • the mad dog
  • the treehouse
  • Camellias
  • the gun
  • Atticus' pocket watch
  • Can you assign symbolic meaning to any of these
    objects in terms of the present day? How do these
    present day symbolic meanings differ from the
    meanings that those symbols held in the novel?

  • In the Southern United States, before the 1960's,
    blacks were segregated from whites. This meant
    that not only did they live in different areas,
    but by law they were not permitted to go to the
    same schools, sit in the same part of the
    courthouse, eat in the same restaurants, use the
    same public rest rooms or drink at the same water
    fountains. These laws were unconstitutional and
    have now been changed.
  • The Constitution of the United States requires
    that before a person is convicted of a crime he
    must be given "due process of law." In the case
    of persons accused of a felony or a crime for
    which they can be imprisoned for a long time,
    this includes the right to a lawyer.

  • If the defendant is poor and cannot afford to
    hire a lawyer, the state must provide a lawyer
    for him. The judge appointed Atticus as defence
    counsel for the man accused of rape to comply
    with this provision of the Constitution.
  • Lynching is an execution, usually by hanging, in
    punishment for a crime or offence for which there
    has been no conviction. Often, people who are
    lynched have committed no crime at all.
  • Lynching was named after a Virginia Justice of
    the Peace, Charles Lynch, who ordered the
    extra-legal hanging of Tory sympathisers during
    the American Revolution.

  • Why did the Judge ask Atticus to defend the black
    man accused of rape? How does this relate to the
    Constitution of the United States?
  • Why were there no black children at the school
    attended by Jem and Scout? Were the black
    children permitted to attend school? What were
    the differences between the schools attended by
    the white children and the schools attended by
    the black children?
  • Why was it so threatening for the white community
    if a black man raped a white woman? Why was it so
    bad for the accuser if the community believed
    that she had sought the attentions of a black
  • Why did Atticus shoot the dog? Why were the
    children not allowed to go near the dog, even
    after it was shot dead?

  • What is a "nigger lover"? Why was Atticus
    considered a "nigger lover"?
  • What was the importance to Jem (the son) that
    Atticus was such a good shot?
  • Why wouldn't Atticus allow Jem (the son) to have
    a gun?
  • When Atticus took the housekeeper, Cal, home from
    work, why did she sit in the back seat of the
  • What were the intentions of the group of men who
    confronted Atticus at the jail during the night?
  • Did Atticus and the Sheriff do the right thing to
    cover up the fact that Boo had killed the
    villain? What if Boo went on to kill another