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Essays on To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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Brief overview
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Date

11 July 1960

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Author

Harper Lee

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Type

Novel

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Genre

Bildungsroman, southern gothic

characters
Major Characters

Atticus Finch, Scout Finch, Jem Finch, Calpurnia, Dill Harris, Arthur Radley, John Finch, Aunt Alexandra

based-on
Based On

Lee loosely based the characters on her family and neighbors. She was inspired by an event that occured in 1936 in Monroeville, Alabama.

symbols-motives
Symbols/Motives

Racial injustice, southern life, gender roles, class, laws, compassion, loss of innocence.

influence
Influence

Atticus Finch, the book’s main character, has served as a model of integrity in legal circles. The book was adapted into a popular film in 1962. Gregory Peck played Atticus Finch.

plot
Plot

Jean Louise Finch (Scout) tells the story of her father Atticus and the family, living in Maycomb, Alabama. The children of the neighborhood are terrified by Arthur Radley, and they tell rumors and stories about his life and appearance. They make plans on how to get him outside. Atticus is appointed to the defense of a black man accused of raping a white woman (Tom Robinson). During the trial, Atticus proves that the accusations are false. Nevertheless, Tom is convicted by the jury. In an attempt to escape from prison, Tom is shot and killed. Bob Ewell, the supposed victim’s father, is furious with the trial’s outcome and attacks Atticus’ children in revenge. A mysterious man, who turns out to be Arthur Radley, saves them.

purpose
Why Is This Topic Important?

This book teaches us an important lesson of history. It’s based on the author’s actual childhood, when segregation and racism issues were real and harsh.

idea
Main Ideas

The book’s most popular theme is the inseparable nature of good and evil in our world and within people themselves.

quotes
Key Quotes
  • “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ‘em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”
  • “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 time. It’s because he wants to stay inside.”
  • “It’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.”
interesting-facts
Interesting Facts

Although the book was extremely well received by the mainstream audience, it hasn’t received much academic attention. Its themes have been discussed for a long time before Lee finally gave some insight in the mid-1960s.

argument-for
Arguments For

Racial injustice is still a current issue. Looking into its history makes us realize where we stand today on the matter. The book has many strong characters worthy of analyzing.

argument-against
Arguments Against

The book contains profanity and racial slurs, which make it realistic. However, these parts may be hurtful to some readers.

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