To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
A Study of the Novel
Jackson Liberty H.S.
Chapter One: A Summary
 Scout remembers when Jem, her brother, broke his arm.
 She looks back to recall the events that lead up to the
incident and remembers that it started when ‘Dill’ came
to spend the summer with his aunt when she was six.
 The main activity that first summer was their attempts to
learn more about the Radley family, especially ‘Boo’,
whom the children had never seen but had heard many
stories (urban legends).
 Dill issues a challenge for Jem to touch the porch; when
Jem is shamed into doing so, they think they see a
movement within the Radley’s house.
Chapter One
 Introductions…
– Scout is the narrator of the first-person narrative; she
is telling her own story.
• Scout is both narrator and participant
• The story is told through episodes
– Her telling the story leads the reader toward a greater
understanding of the episodes of the story.
– In chapter one, she provides hints that the reader will reader
will recall later in the novel.
– The opening refers to a climactic event – Jem’s broken armand then returns to an earlier point in time to detail the episodes
that lead to the climax.
– The reader learns that the author is older and is recalling the
events of her own past, but that the narration is from the young
child’s view.
Other ideas in Chapter 1
 Atticus Finch is a man willing to break traditions:
– Left Finch’s Landing to study Law
– Treats his children as individuals and allows them to
call him “Atticus”
 Maycomb is a quiet, southern town where things
have been the same for a long time.
 The Radley place is fully described, which adds
atmosphere and tension to the story.
Chapters Two and Three: A
 After Dill leaves, Scout begins her first year of
 The first morning is disastrous for Scout, who
was punished for interfering.
 That afternoon, she watches Miss Caroline’s
attempts to control Burris Ewell, who is a son of
a low-class white man who drinks all the time.
 That night, Atticus tries to help Scout make sense
of her day. He wants her to see things from other
people’s points-of-view and to avoid jumping to
Scout’s Lessons…
 Outside of school, Scout learns the most:
– The Cunninghams are poor, but honest.
– Although Walter is poor, he deserves respect and
courtesy that is due to all people and guests.
– Ewells are poor, but disrespectful.
– She questions why she must obey the law and attend
school, but the Ewells are allowed to skip.
– Atticus makes her see that both she and Miss Caroline
learned a lot on the first day.
– She is told that the Ewells do not live like other
The Most Important Lesson…
Atticus tells Scout that she will never
understand people “until you climb into his
skin and walk around in it.”
– This will be returned to throughout the novel
as Scout tries to see things from others’
Looking back at Chapters 1 - 3
 Many people, places, and events are introduced.
 Scout passes the Radley house four times in Chapter 2 and 3, each
time she runs past it.
– Lee manages to keep the Radley place a focal point, while
developing other ideas at the same time.
 A contrast between poor and honest people and poor but disreputable
people is a key point for understanding the novel’s message.
 A very special relationship exists between Scout and her father.
 Despite the comical presentation of the episodes, readers should
realize that the ideas are serious.
– The theme and development in the novel grow out of her
controlled humor (narrative style).
Chapters Four - Six
 An uneventful year at school, except for the discovery
of the hidden gifts in the tree in Boo Radley’s yard.
 Dill return when summer arrives, but Scout is left out of
many of the games.
 After a summer of games and play focused on the
mysterious Boo Radley, the three decide to approach
the house and peek in through a window.
 While they are in-progress, Mr. Radley fires a gun shot
into the air, which causes the children to run and Jem
loses his pants because they catch on the fence.
Chapter four
 Scout does not appreciate formal education.
 The found things add mystery to the ideas
connected to Boo Radley.
– Who is leaving them and why?
– What do the games the children play suggest about
their view of Boo and the Radleys?
– How does the laughing Scout hears further add
mystery to the story?
– What is Atticus’s view of the Radleys? How does he
feel about the children’s games?
– What does Scout finally realize about Boo Radley at
the end of chapter four?
Chapter Five- part one
 Miss Maudie is like Atticus: she is fair and openminded.
– She loves flowers and things that grow (except nut
– “Miss Maudie hates her house”
– She has never told on the children/ she keeps their
secrets – Scout can talk to her.
– She believes that Arthur Radley is a human being, not
a phantom. She tries to explain how the Radleys’
religious practices add to the difference between
Scout’s family and theirs.
– She discredits the rumors about Arthur.
Chapter Five- part two
 Scout joins Jem and Dill in their attempt to give a
note to Arthur Radley (using a fishing pole).
 Atticus catches them in the act and tells them to
leave the Radleys alone and to respect their right
to privacy.
 Atticus’s cross-examination traps Jem into
admitting that their games focus on the Radley’s
Chapter Six
On Dill’s last night in Maycomb, they
decided to stroll to the street lamp.
Jem and Dill intended to peek into a
The gun firing intensifies the mystery
surrounding the Radleys and their house.
– There is no proof, but it seems that the shadow
(page 53) belonged to ‘Boo’.
So far…
 Two summers have passed in the book.
 How have the events so far led the reader toward
the whole novel?
– The relationship between the Finch and Radley
– Harper Lee has provided the children’s first responses
to the Radley family.
– It is important that readers continually remember that
the events are leading to the previously related
climactic event.
Chapters Seven and Eight
 Scout later learns that someone had mended Jem’s pants
that night he left them on the Radley’s fence.
 In the next weeks, more gifts were found in the tree.
 The tree hole was cemented (filled) by Mr. Nathan
 The winter was the coldest ever recorded.
 Miss Maudie’s house burns.
 Someone places a blanket around Scout as she watches
the fire, which she later realizes was Boo Radley.
Narrations and Developments
Scout observes and reports as narrator, leaving the reader
to draw their own conclusions that the young/innocent
child cannot yet understand.
– Jem begins to see that Boo wants to be friends,
although Scout- who is younger- does not yet realize
– Jem realizes that Boo is the only friendly Radley.
– Scout finally understands that Boo Radley is kind and
friendly and that he wants to protect the children, even
though he may be odd in other ways.
Moving on…
 After chapter eight, the Radleys fade into the
background, as Scout and Jem have learned their
lesson- a man may be different from another, but
this difference does not mean that he is wrong or
evil or cruel. Their desire to seek him out
dissipates with that knowledge.
 The emphasis switches now and the main interest
turns to the Tom Robinson case.
– The two main plots will later merge, which is why the
opening is so important to the structure of the novel.
Historical Allusion
The author’s reference to historical people,
event, etc. that the reader is expected to
When a reader is able to recognize
allusions, they are better able to identify
and comprehend the idea(s)/messages(s)
the author intended to convey
List the Similarities
 What ideas can be discussed in history that are
alluded to in Lee’s novel?
– The Depression – 1930s
– Rape trial- White woman accused (falsely) a black
– Defense attorney white man truly defended and tried
to gain justice for the black man/men
– Racism/segregation in South (Alabama)
 What thematic message do you think Lee meant
readers to understand based on the above listed
Chapters 9-11 (End of Part I)
 The Racial Tension becomes a major factor
– Chapter 9:
• Scout hears that her father is a “nigger-lover” at school… she
does not understand its meaning.
– She fights Cecil Jacobs
– She asks Atticus about the man he’s defending
• He explains that he will defend Tom so he can hold his
head up in front of his family and neighbors.
• He tells he he expects to lose – “Simply because we were
licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for
us not to try to win” (P. 76)
– Atticus makes her promise not to fight.
– She promises because her father seldom asks things of her.
– She breaks that promise…
9 continued…
 Christmas at Finch’s Landing
– Scout tried to be polite to Francis
• They have little in common – the contrast in their upbringing highlights
that Atticus’s children are different from many others.
• Aunt Alexandra’s disapproval of the way Atticus’s children
behave/dress is stated… “Sister, I do the best I can” (p. 81) foreshadows
Alexandra’s Part II arrival.
• p. 83- Francis’s insults include calling Dill a “stray dog” and Atticus a
“nigger lover” – Scout intimidates him- he tattles and she gets warned
about cussin’…on p. 84 he refers again to Atticus rudely and she
punches him in the mouth.
– Francis says she used rude language and Uncle Jack spanked her in
punishment- without hearing her side (p. 85).
– Uncle Jack learns a lot about children – much more than Scout learned from
– While Atticus is criticized for how he is raising the children, he actually has
a far better understanding of their needs than the adult relatives.
Chapter 10…
 The children feel Atticus is old and cannot do what
other fathers are able to do…
– Cecil Jacobs’s father plays football
– Atticus and Maudie are around 50-years-old
 Mockingbirds as creatures that never harm and only
make music are introduced (p. 90)
 Tim Johnson (Harry Johnson’s dog) is mad and
Atticus – being the best shot in town puts the dog
down in “One Shot”… Jem’s disappointment in his
father is relieved and he respects that he should not
brag about that talent…
Chapter 11…
 Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose
– Mean lady – always shouting insults to Jem and Scout.
– Atticus models the best behavior for dealing with Mrs.
Dubose- who is “old and ill”
– Jem really tries to “be a gentleman”, but is pushed too
far by Mrs. Dubose’s comments about “lawin’ for
niggers” (p. 101-02)
– Jem used Scout’s new baton and knocked every
Camellia off of the bush in a fit of rage.
– Atticus explains that he thought Scout would be the one
to lose her temper- not Jem- and that he wished Mrs. D.
had said it directly to him, not his children.
Chapter 11 continued…
 Jem’s Punishment…
– He had to read Ivanhoe to Mrs. Dubose for a month.
• Jem learned what true courage is when he understood that Mrs.
Dubose broke her addiction to morphine.
• Jem failed to see how Mrs. Dubose was a “great lady” when she
was so horrible.
• Atticus used this event to show that “men with a gun in their
hands” are not truly courageous!
• Atticus explained that all people are allowed their
personal views.
– He tried to show Jem that he could not fault his neighbors for
their view of his defending Tom Robinson.
The first Test…
The comprehension questions
The events and characters
– Episodic
– Lee’s narrative style
– How the novel allows readers to see the
development of a child. (provide an example
to support response)
Reviewing Literary Structure
 Readers are told that the climax of her tale is Jem’s broken arm, which does not occur
in Part I!.
 Introduction and Rising Action are interspersed and episodic.
– Scout, Jem, Atticus, Cal, Dill
– Aunt Alexandra
– Uncle Jack
– Setting – Alabama – Maycomb County
– The Radleys
Rising Action at that point:
– Scout’s learning about People
– Poverty
– respect/honesty.integrity
– Judgment
 Each episode built up the tension- Scout’s frustration- until she had a better
understanding (end. Ch 8)
Examining the Plot Structure
 The later part of Part I adds introduction of characters (ex. Heck
– In addition, characters who were only names and a brief
description (ex. Mrs. Dubose) will be built up in episodes, as
required to continue toward the climax and emphasize the
theme of courage.
 This novel has two levels of the plotline:
– The first is Scout’s childhood
• The maturity/growth/understanding that develops through
her experiences (the episodes and sequence).
– The second lot line is the Tom Robinson trial.
• This will be the main focus of Part II.
Looking at Lee’s work…
 How has Harper Lee prepared readers for the change of focus?
– The increased use of racial epithets (an abusive word or phrase)
in the novel.
– Atticus’s battle to keep his children from reacting to the
nastiness of their neighbors (stemming from their judgment of
his action)
 What kind of man is Atticus?
– A calm and steady man who is rational, honest, and fair. He is a
great father and he teaches his children not to judge others
without really understanding them.
– He leads by example and does not explain that he was assigned
the Robinson case.
Linking ideas…
 What is significant about the novel’s opening with the
Finch’s ancestry, the Radleys, Cunninghams, Ewells,
– Atticus is highly respected in the community, but his
neighbors will still call him horrible names because they
disagree with his defending a black man accused of a crime.
– Does Atticus expect to win the case? Why does he take it?
– What does his acceptance of the case show his children?
Part II : To Kill a Mockingbird
Notes and Ideas for chapter sets:
12-15/ 16-18/ 19-21/ 22/ 23-27/ 28-31
Chapters 12 - 15
 Chapter 12:
– Atticus is away overnight and the children must attend church with
• Lula objects to the presence of white children in Negro church.
• Reverend Sykes welcomes the children respectfully and honors
them because they are Atticus’s children.
• The collection is for Tom Robinson’s family
– Readers learn how hard the accusation of Mayella Ewell is on
Tom and his family. (Empathy is evoked in this chapter.)
– They learn that Calpurnia has a life they have never thought
about (ex. Zeebo, her eldest son is the trash man who sings at
– They return to find Aunt Alexandra has come to stay with them.
Chapter 13
 Aunt Alexandra moves in for a while, presumably because it is
time for more of a “female” presence, which coincides with the
approaching trial.
– She has contrasting opinions and attitudes to Atticus, especially
regarding the family:
• Alexandra insists that Atticus explain that the children must
act “like Finches” and be properly dressed and behaved at
all times.
– This marks the first time the children have seen Atticus
do something that he does not believe in, which scares
them into thinking that their relationship with their
father will change because of Aunt Alexandra.
12 and 13
 The Maycomb Society is focused and defined.
– There is a hierarchy.
• Old “Aristocracy” – Aunt Alexandra represents the upper crust
of the social ladder- old family line.
• The doctors and lawyers- those who hold high-levels of
education came from the upper crust – Atticus and Uncle Jack.
• The Officers, Sheriffs, Judges, Shop/Business Owners,
• Clerks, Operators, Office employees
• Farmers and Laborers
• Poor White Trash
• *********************
• The Negro Community (notice no distinctions are made here!)
Aunt Alexandra
She is openly welcomed by all of the
community, even Mr. Nathan Radley spoke
to her.
She became the most prominent society
hostess, which eased the focus off of Atticus
Finch (Tom’s defender) for a time.
The children see the power and effects of
social conversation, although they do not
truly understand the hypocrisy.
Chapter 14
 The Robinson case is causing tension in the Finch
– Atticus and Aunt Alexandra openly disagree, which indicates
that he is tired and not acting like himself.
• He defines rape as “carnal knowledge of a female by force and without
consent” (p. 135).
• He refuses to let Calpurnia go now that Alexandra is staying.
– She is part of the family
– The children need her, as they always have.
 Dill is found, having run away.
– He is allowed to stay
– Scout and Dill discuss parents and where children come from
– Scout asks why Boo never ran away; Dill says, “Maybe he had
nowhere to run” (p. 144).
Chapter 15
 Tom Robinson is to be moved to the jail.
– Men showed up to stand in Atticus’s front yard.
• People they saw everyday: “merchants, in-town farmers; Dr.
Reynolds, and Mr. Avery” (p.146).
– Heck Tate is worried about trouble.
– Link Deas expressed his confusion about why Atticus
risked “everything” for the case.
– Alexandra expressed fear of “disgracing the family”
– Jem feared the men would hurt Atticus.
 Atticus went to sit at the jail at 10 o’clock.
Chapter 15 – The Mob
 The children follow into town to find four carloads of
men, dressed similarly and wearing their hats low to hide
their features, approach the jail.
 Atticus stands between the men and Tom, whom they
wish to harm.
 The mob mentality (see T-chart) is broken by Scout’s
innocent “conversation” with Mr. Cunningham.
– Readers are made aware that acts of gang violence are seldom
made by individuals;
– Mr. Cunningham realized that Atticus helped him and his
family and had never disrespected them, as he and his
companions may have done to get to Tom.
Chapters 16 - 18
 Atticus and Alexandra do not agree and have a
strained relationship.
 The Trial begins!
– The children watch the parade of the community- Jem
providing as much information about the family
histories s he recalled.
– Not all people felt they belonged at the courthouse
(Miss Maudie).
– There was room made for the children to sit near
Reverend Sykes in the front of the colored balcony.
 Miss Maudie recognized that the trial was becoming a
spectacle, rather than a trial for a man’s life.
 Dolphus Raymond is known as the town “drunk”.
 Scout learns that Atticus was assigned the case.
 Bob Ewell is ignorant and crude; He drinks and makes
a spectacle of himself in the courtroom.
 Mayella Ewell is uneducated and lonely. Her testimony
exposes her fear of her father and her lack of innocence
in the accusations.
 Tom’s crippled arm made it impossible for him to be
the one to leave the bruises on Mayella’s face.
Chapters 19-21
 Tom served time in jail for having been cut with a knife
and unable to pay the fine for disorderly conduct.
 Tom’s version of the events paints a sad picture of
Mayella’s life and explains that he tried to help her but
she stood in his way, touched him, and that her father
saw her and was angry.
 This brings up the point that Tom, a black man, was not
allowed to touch a white woman in any way.
 Mr. Gilmer was condescending and rude to Tom, which
upset Dill greatly. He was comforted by Dolphus
Raymond, who was not a drunkard at all!
 The closing statements and the jury deliberation contrast
Jem’s hopes for justice and Scout’s realizations that her
brother’s hopes were crushed.
Chapter 22
 Jem must deal with his anger at the verdict while
Scout sees the outpouring of gratitude from the
Negro community.
 Miss Stephanie’s gossip with Mr. Avery and
Miss Maudie lead to:
– Maudie’s saving the with cake and helping Jem see
that Judge Taylor picked his father for the right
reasons, which is a sign of progress. She furthers that
Atticus is a better man than most, but that most aren’t
– Learning that Bob Ewell spit in Atticus’s face and
swore revenge.
Chapters 23 - 27
 Atticus expresses that Bob wouldn’t follow through with
threats and that he is upset because he lost any shred of
respect he may have once had.
 Atticus explains that a white man’s word is always taken
above a Black man’s in the court, but that he felt they had
made a difference and helped people think.
 Alexandra explains the difference between classes of people
and later reveals that a woman must always play the role
expected, despite her true feelings (evidenced when she
learns of Tom’s death and her feelings for Atticus’s pain)
 Prejudice and hypocrisy is revealed by Miss Gates, Scout’s
teacher as world politics and religion are briefly identified.
 Bob Ewell’s threats extend to Helen and Judge Taylor; Link
Deas settles things for Helen.
Chapters 28 - 31
 The atmosphere is tense as the plot reaches its turning point. Cecil
Jacobs’s scaring of Jem and Scout foreshadow Bob’s attack later that
 Arthur Radley saved the children by fighting (and stabbing) Bob
Ewell, who had broken Jem’s arm after damaging Scout’s costume
with his knife. “Boo” carried Jem home and Scout tried to put
together the pieces of the event.
 Atticus had difficulty seeing that Jem had not been the one to stab
Bob, and later accepted why it would be wrong to bring Arthur’s
role out to the public.
 The Doctor, Sheriff, and Atticus all treated Arthur with dignity and
respect, so Scout followed the example and learned to see from
Arthur’s point of view. She realized that he’d given so much to
them, but they had offered nothing in return.
Who is the Mockingbird?
 Tom Robinson
Hardworking, despite his disability
Family man
Regular Church attendance
– 1) Chapter 12’s episode ($10 for Helen) introduces Rev. Sykes
and evidences that the Robinsons are well respected in their
community because the Negro people made sacrifices to collect
that cash during the hard times of the Great Depression.
– 2) The narration (Scout’s) builds the reader’s trust of Rev.
Sykes, which helps up believe his support, admiration, and
respect for Tom and Helen.
– 3) We then trust the testimony that Tom only helped Mayella
because he was sympathetic. Thus, we could say that he was
“shot” for the crime of taking pity on a white woman.
Who is the Mockingbird?
 Arthur “Boo” Radley
• Reclusive
• “Foot Washing” Baptist (Biblical allusion)
• Pale, due to not being out of house (in public) since his arrest/trial. His
outdoor doings were speculated by the locals (rumors) and documented by
the kids (gifts).
– 1) Arthur’s actions during the time span of the novel’s episodes
evidence several acts of kindness toward the children (Blanket;
Tree gifts; Jem’s pants and the saving of their lives).
– 2) Because of his past misdeeds, many of Maycomb’s residents
create false and misleading takles (urban myths) about the type of
person the now reclusive man had become.
– 3) Heck Tate uses his position of power to make a lie of omission
in order to keep Arthur from having to undergo a public trial for
Bob’s “murder”. The speculation and stories that would result
from having “Boo” on trial would be a punishment to him, which
would be “like shooting a mockingbird”.
Literary Details
 Tone is childlike, humorous, nostalgic, innocent; as the novel
progresses, increasingly dark, foreboding, and critical of society.
 Foreshadowing: Gothic elements (fire and mad dog) build tension to
subtly foreshadow Tom’s trial and tragic deaths; Burris Ewell
foreshadows his father’s nastiness; the gifts foreshadow Arthur’s
goodness; Bob’s threats foreshadow the attack on the children
 Themes are the coexistence of good and evil; the importance of
moral education; and social class
 Climax is the “guilty” verdict, which forces Scout and Jem to
confront the fact that morals cannot always be reconciled with the
reality of the world and the evils of human nature.
 Major conflict is the struggle to maintain childhood innocence in the
face of the bad side of human existence. The children struggle to
keep faith in the human capacity for good because of the recurring
instances of human evil. (Bob Ewell and Trial verdict)
Motif and Theme
 Motifs are recurring
structures, contrasts,
or literary devices
that can help to
develop and inform
the text's major
– Gothic Details
– Small-Town life
 Themes
Loss of Innocence
Isolation and Courage
Integrity in the Face of Injustice
Human Kindness in the Face of
– Bravery
– Disparity between Appearance
and Reality
Major Ideas
Growing Up
•Balance what
is good/ right/
fair for all
of a person’s
type/ worth/
beliefs based
oin group
•Favoring one
above another
based soley on
•those we
care about
they are one
of our own.
•People we
choose to
with and
share life
what care
to risk
•Should be
blind to race,
religion, etc…
•Trial by jury
of peers:
Innocent until
proven guilty
beyond a
•Social vs.
•Asian = Smart
because of their
difference to
you and your
of belief
and practice
•People we
may choose
with when
and work in
exchange for
and freedom.
from mistakes
what is right
and wrong for
Themes and Ideas
Social Class
Moral Education
Good and Evil

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