To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird
• Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville,
Alabama, a sleepy small town similar in many ways to
Maycomb, the setting of To Kill a Mockingbird.
• Like Atticus Finch, the father of Scout, the narrator and
protagonist of To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee's father was a
• Among Lee's childhood friends was the future novelist and
essayist Truman Capote, from whom she drew inspiration for
the character Dill.
• Lee maintains that To Kill a Mockingbird was intended to
portray not her own childhood home but rather a nonspecific
Southern town. “People are people anywhere you put them,”
she declared in a 1961 interview.
TKAM Background Information
• The book's setting and characters are not the only
aspects of the story shaped by events that occurred
during Lee's childhood.
• In 1931, when Lee was five, nine young black men were
accused of raping two white women near Scottsboro,
• After a series of lengthy, highly publicized, and often
bitter trials, five of the nine men were sentenced to long
prison terms.
• Many prominent lawyers and other American citizens saw
the sentences as motivated only by racial prejudice.
Background Info Continued
• It was also suspected that the women who had
accused the men were lying, and in appeal
after appeal, their claims became more
• There can be little doubt that the Scottsboro
Case, as the trials of the nine men came to be
called, served as a seed for the trial that stands
at the heart of Lee's novel.
Harper Lee
• Lee began To Kill a Mockingbird in the mid-1950s,
after moving to New York to become a writer. She
completed the novel in 1957 and published it, with
revisions, in 1960, just before the peak of the
American civil rights movement.
• In the racially charged atmosphere of the early
1960s, the book became an enormous popular
success, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and
selling over fifteen million copies. Two years after
the book's publication, an Academy Award-winning
film version of the novel, starring Gregory Peck as
Atticus Finch, was produced.
Key Facts
• Genre · Coming-of-age story; social drama;
courtroom drama; Southern drama
• Time and Place Written · Mid-1950s; New
York City
• Date of first publication · 1960
Key Facts
• Narrator · Scout narrates the story herself, looking back in retrospect an
unspecified number of years after the events of the novel take place.
• Point of View · Scout narrates in the first person, telling what she saw
and heard at the time and augmenting this narration with thoughts and
assessments of her experiences in retrospect.
• Although she is by no means an omniscient narrator, she has matured
considerably over the intervening years and often implicitly and
humorously comments on the naïveté she displayed in her thoughts and
actions as a young girl.
Scout mostly tells of her own thoughts but also devotes considerable time
to recounting and analyzing Jem's thoughts and actions.
Key Facts
• Tone · Childlike, humorous, nostalgic, innocent; as
the novel progresses, increasingly dark, foreboding,
and critical of society
• Tense · Past
• Setting (time) · 1933–1935
• Setting (place) · The fictional town of Maycomb,
• Protagonist · Scout Finch
• Themes are the fundamental and often
universal ideas explored in a literary work.
• The Coexistence of Good and Evil
• The Importance of Moral Education
• The Existence of Social Inequality
• Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or
literary devices that can help to develop and
inform the text's major themes.
• Gothic Details
• Small-Town Life
• Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or
colors used to represent abstract ideas or
• Mockingbirds
• Boo Radley
• Foreshadowing · The Gothic elements of the novel
(the fire, the mad dog) build tension that subtly
foreshadows Tom Robinson's trial and tragic death.
• Burris Ewell's appearance in school foreshadows the
nastiness of Bob Ewell.
* The presents Jem and Scout find in the oak tree
foreshadow the eventual discovery of Boo Radley's
* Bob Ewell's threats and suspicious behavior after the
trial foreshadow his attack on the children.

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