Document

Report
An Introduction to
Nelle Harper Lee’s
To Kill A Mockingbird
Ms. Ezeh- English II
Themes
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Racial Prejudice
Social Snobbery
Morality
Tolerance
Patience
Equality
The Need for Compassion
The Need for Conscience
Symbolism
• The Mockingbird: Symbolizes Everything That
is Good and Harmless in This World
– The mockingbird only sings to please others and
therefore it is considered a sin to shoot a
mockingbird. They are considered harmless
creatures who give joy with their song.
– The mockingbird image or symbol appears four
times in the novel.
– Two characters in the novel symbolize the
mockingbird: Tom Robinson & Boo Radley.
Nelle Harper Lee
• Born April 28, 1926 in Monroeville,
Alabama.
• Her first and only novel To Kill a
Mockingbird was published in 1960.
• In 1960 she won the Pulitzer Prize
for fiction.
• Lee continued to receive awards
after the book’s publication.
• In November of 2007 she was
awarded the Presidential Medal of
Freedom (the nation’s highest
civilian award) for her contribution
to American literature.
Semi-Autobiography
Harper Lee
versus Scout Finch
- Born in Monroeville, Alabama
- Born in Maycomb,
Alabama
- Grew up in 1930’s
- Grew up in 1930’s
- Father was a lawyer
- Father (Atticus) is a lawyer
- Mother’s maiden name was Finch - Last name = Finch
There are two distinct plot forms in the novel. One
could be described as a Bildungsroman, which means it
is a story about growing up. The second is a recording
of a particular period in American history.
The Setting
• The setting
– Maycomb, Georgia
– The novel is set in 19331935, which is during
the Great Depression
Time: 1930s, Great Depression era – People bought “on margin”, and an
imbalance in supply and demand caused a major depression. Economic
difficulties of this time caused problems for all classes of people. Many
families do not even have money for basic needs such as food, clothing, and
shelter. The per capita income for families in Alabama (and Oklahoma) was
$125 - $250 a year. Many people travelled to find seasonal work but
unemployment was at a peak. Many southern blacks picked cotton for a living.
Race in Alabama
• The agricultural economy was hit hard by the
depression. Many white southerners had a
romanticized idea of how life should be. They felt
threatened by change and industrialization. Tensions
between whites and blacks were still high.
• Although slavery was abolished in the 1865, racism and
discrimination were alive and well during the time of
the novel.
• However, in the South, there was still very little
opportunity for African Americans to advance
themselves. Nearly half did not receive an education
past the 5th grade, and many picked cotton to survive
throughout the Great Depression. Lynching also
remained a common practice in Alabama and southern
states.
Segregation
Race in Alabama, 1920-1940
 No white female nurses in hospitals that







treat black men
Separate passenger cars for whites and
blacks
Separate waiting rooms for whites and
blacks
Separation of white and black convicts
Separate schools
No interracial marriages
Segregated water fountains
Segregated theatres
 Although free blacks in the north received
the vote back in 1870, those in the southern
states do not until 1964 with the
introduction of the Civil Rights Act.
Another Cultural Difference…
• Gender Bias
– Women were the
weaker sex.
– Education not
important for
women.
– Women only
received the right to
vote in 1919.
– Men were not
expected to be
nurturing.
Keep the following in mind:
Pay close attention to the language of the
characters. For example, Atticus uses formal
speech, the Ewells use curse words and
obscenities, and the cook switches between
“white” and “black” dialects depending on who
she is talking to.
Also, the book contains derogatory terms
for African Americans, such as “nigger,” “darky,”
“Negroes,” and “colored folk” – Lee uses such
language to keep her novel naturally in sync
with common language of the times.
Characters
Jean Louise Finch “Scout”
 The story’s narrator
 Although now an adult,
Scout looks back at her
childhood and tells of the
momentous events and
influential people of those
years.
 Scout is six when the story
begins.
 She is naturally curious
about life.
Characters
Atticus Finch
Father of Scout and Jem
A widower
An attorney by
profession
Highly respected
Good citizen
Instills good values and
morals in his children.
Characters
Jem Finch
 Scout’s older brother
 Looks up to his father Atticus
 Usually looks out for Scout
 Typical older brother at times
 Smart
 Compassionate
 Matures as the story
progresses
Characters
Calpurnia
 The Finch’s black
housekeeper
 Has watched the
children since their
mother’s death
 Acts as a positive
influence on the
children.
Characters
Dill
A close friend of Jem and
Scout
Usually lives in Maycomb
only during the summer
(stays with a relative)
Tells “big stories”
Has been deprived of
love and affection
Characters
Tom Robinson
 A young, hardworking
black male
 Has a crippled left hand
 Married with three
children. Works on a
farm belonging to Mr.
Link Deas, a white man
Characters
Arthur “Boo” Radley
An enigma
An adult man, whose father
has “sentenced” him to a
lifetime confinement to their
house because of some
mischief he got into when he
was a teenager.
Has a reputation of being a
lunatic
Two Poor White Families:
The Cunninghams
•
•
•
•
•
•
Poor white family
Hard-working
Honest
Proud
Survive on very little
Always pay back their
debts – even if it is with
hickory nuts, turnips, or
holly.
The Ewells
•
•
•
•
•
Poor white trash
Dirty
Lazy
Good-for-nothing
Never done a day’s
work
• Foul-mouthed
• Dishonest
• Immoral
The Black Community
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Simple
Honest
Clean
Hard-working
God fearing
Proud
Would never take anything
with paying it back
• Respectful
• Had stronger character than
most of the whites
•
•
•
•
•
Oppressed
Uneducated
Discriminated against
Talked about badly
Deserve better than what is
dished out to them by
society
Vocabulary for Chapter 1 and 2
Complete these in groups
(define and share):
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Assuaged Apothecary Strictures Dictum Chattel Vexations Taciturn -
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Repertoire Vapid Malevolent Morbid Predilection Sojourn Domiciled -

similar documents