To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936.
On what side was Hrper Lee's Atticus Finch? Finch defended Tom Robinson, the black man falsely accused of what in 1930's Alabama was the gravest od sins, the rape of a white woman. In the years since, he has become a role model for the legal profession.
Neither reader nor author denotes any particular person. The name "Lee" enables me to simplify sentences about the design of Mockingbird in my discussion of how the novel taps into various literary traditions. However, I intend to uncover how Mockingbird "is made of multiple writings," revealing "the total existence of the writing" in a broader, cultural sense.
Lee's 1960 novel is an exercise in "threatening boundaries". Boundaries only became boundaries when contesting arenas border one another, making collision imminent. Indeed Mockingbird has meant a great variety of things to a great variety of folks, a category that Scout concludes encompasses all of us who are passing through an existential drama called human life.
In the middle of the novel, after Tom Robinson's arrest, Finch spends the night in front of the Maycomb jail, concerned that a mob might come down and try to take matters into its own hands. Sure enough, one does, led by a poor white farmer, Walter Cunningham. The mob eventually scatters, and the next morning Finch tries to explain the night's events to Scout. Here again is a test for Finch's high-minded equanimity. He likes Walter Cunningham. Cunningham, Finch tells his daughter, is "basically, a good man," who "just has his blind spots along with the rest of us".
Along with its twin plot lines, To Kill a Mockingbird has two broad themes: tolerance and justice. Lee treats the first through the children's fear of their mysterious neighbor. She illustrates the second with Atticus's courage in defending Robinson to the best of his ability, despite the racial prejudices of their small Southern town. Tying the stories together is a simple but profound piece of advice Atticus gives Scout: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." By the end of the novel, Scout has done exactly that-guessed at the pain not only beneath Tom Robinson's skin, but also under that of her neighbor.
With Atticus providing wise advice to Scout throughout the book, Scout learns to become a woman. She starts out as almost a grimy, irritable, tomboy child and learns to be more proper and kind toward others. Some may see her transformation as conforming to the ways of society, but others may view it as her learning what is right and how to treat others she is unfamiliar with.
Those critics who praised the film viewed its childhood and adult story lines as individually and interactively successful. They admired the spirit and charm of the children's adventures and also found Finch's doomed defense of Tom Robinson relevant to an America still struggling to come to terms with its racially troubled past and present.
During the first half of Mockingbird Harper Lee constructs a sweet and affectionate portrait of growing up in the vanished world of small town Alabama. Lee, however, proceeds to undermine her portrayal of small town gentility during the second half of the book. Lee dismantles the sweet facade 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.
In this novel, there is a very prevalent stress on society. The pressures of society are shown in every character. This theme in the novel is relatable to modern times as well because there are still prevalent pressures in society to act certain ways, look a certain way, and go through certain actions.
In addition to a biting analysis of race relations, To Kill A Mockingbird is also a story about Scout's maturation. Coming-of-age stories are also known as members of the genre Bildungsroman, which tends to depict main characters who take large steps in personal growth due to life lessons or specific trauma. In Lee's novel, Scout Finch works to come to terms with the facts of her society, including social inequality, racial inequality, and the expectation that she act as a "proper Southern lady." Scout is a tomboy who resents efforts to alter her behavior in order to make her more socially accepted. In the 1930s, gender inequality also reigned, and women were not given equal rights. Women in the South were expected to be delicate and dainty, concepts that Scout abhors; and women were not allowed to serve on juries in Maycomb, according to the novel. Scout loves adventure and can punch as well as any boy in her class. She finds it hard to fit into the mold of a Southern lady. Miss Maudie is a strong role model for her in that Miss Maudie also defies some of their society's expectations and maintains her individuality as a Southern woman. But Scout eventually succumbs--in her own way--to social pressure.
Lee did not set her novel in contemporary late 1950s society, however. This novel instead takes place a few decades earlier, before the changes and conflicts of the Civil Rights era. During this period, America was watching closely the infamous Scottsboro Trials, in which two impoverished white women accused nine young black men of rape. These trials may have been one of several influences on Lee as she crafted the Mockingbird story. The book is set in the time period of Lee’s own youth, and many critics have pointed out the similarities between her and Scout, and her childhood friend, Truman Capote, and Dill. Lee herself has said that she did not intend the book to be an autobiography. She simply wrote what she knew. It’s also her only book: she never published another novel, and, within a few years of Mockingbird's publication, she went into a seclusion to rival that of her character Boo Radley
When To Kill a Mockingbird’s story of an African-American man falsely accused of raping a white woman first appeared in 1960, the Civil Rights Movement was well on its way toward significantly revolutionizing how the U.S. conceived of race. In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in Brown vs. the Board of Education that separate was not equal, paving the way for the integration of the public school system.