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Book Summary: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Scout and her brother Jem are raised by their father and by Calpurnia, an African-American housekeeper who works for the family. Scout and Jem meet and befriend seven-year-old Dill Harris, a boy who has arrived in Maycomb to stay with his aunt for the summer.

Lee has stated that the character of Dill is based on young Truman Capote, a well-known Southern writer and childhood friend. Local myth holds that Boo eats live squirrels and prowls the streets at night, and the children's perception of him is colored by such tales.

In the fall, Dill returns to his family in the North and Scout enters the first grade. Scout and Jem begin to discover mysterious objects, designed to intrigue children, hidden in a tree on the Radley property. Mayella and her shiftless father, Bob Ewell, live in abject poverty on the outskirts of town. The family is known as trouble and disliked by townspeople. Despite this, Atticus's defense of Tom is unpopular in the white community, and Scout and Jem find themselves taunted at school due to their father's defense of a black man.

Atticus consistently strives to instill moral values in his children, and hopes to counteract the influence of racial prejudice. The children view their father as frustratingly staid and bookish, until he is asked by the sheriff to shoot a rabid dog that is roaming the street.

After Atticus kills the dog, Scout and Jem learn that their father is renowned as a deadly marksman in Maycomb County, but that he chooses not to use this skill, unless absolutely necessary. Scout's aunt, Alexandra, unexpectedly arrives to reside with the Finch family, announcing it is time someone reined in the children.

She makes it her mission to counteract Atticus's liberal influence on the children and to instill ladylike virtues in the tomboyish Scout. The night before the trial of Tom Robinson is to begin, a group of local men threaten a lynching, but Scout inadvertently disrupts their plan when she recognizes the father of a schoolmate in the crowd of would-be lynchers.

When the trial begins, Atticus tries to protect his children from the anger and prejudice they would hear; however, Scout, Jem, and Dill sneak into the courtroom and sit in the balcony with the black community. Mayella and her father testify that Tom raped Mayella after he was asked onto their property to break up an old chifforobe into firewood.

Atticus, however, proves Tom's innocence by demonstrating that while Mayella's face was beaten and bruised on her right side, Tom's left arm had been rendered completely useless by an earlier injury. Therefore, Atticus concludes, Tom could not possibly be the left-handed assailant who struck Mayella on the right side of her face. Atticus further suggests that it was Bob, Mayella's father, who beat her, and that, in fact, no rape occurred.

Before the jury departs to deliberate, Atticus appeals to their sense of justice, imploring them not to allow racial prejudice to interfere with their deliberations.

However, after two hours, the jury returns with a guilty verdict, sentencing Tom to be executed for rape. Later, Tom is shot to death during an attempt to escape from jail. The following fall, Bob Ewell, incensed by Atticus's treatment of him during the trial, attacks Scout and Jem with a knife as they are walking home from a school Halloween pageant.

Boo Radley, secretly observing the scene, intervenes in the scuffle, and Bob Ewell is stabbed and killed in the process. Called to the scene, the Sheriff and Atticus agree to not report Boo's involvement to the police, because a trial against him would likely be prejudiced.

Intimately aware of issues of prejudice due to the Tom Robinson case, Atticus and the children agree to report that Ewell fell on his knife in the scuffle, sparing Boo the consequences of a legal trial.

Scout realizes in retrospect that Boo has never been the threatening figure the children had imagined, and that he was responsible for leaving the mysterious gifts for them to find on his property. After walking Boo home, Scout stands on the porch of his house looking out, finally seeing the world through a wider perspective.

The central thematic concern of To Kill a Mockingbird addresses racial prejudice and social justice. Atticus Finch represents a strongly principled, liberal perspective that runs contrary to the ignorance and prejudice of the white, Southern, small-town community in which he lives. Atticus is convinced that he must instill values of equality in his children, counteracting the racist influence.

Lee makes use of several images and allegories throughout the novel to symbolize racial conflict. The children's attitudes about Boo, for example, represent in small scale the foundation of racial prejudice in fear and superstition.

The rabid dog that threatens the town has been interpreted as symbolizing the menace of racism. Atticus's shooting of the rabid dog has been considered by many critics as a representation of his skills as an attorney in targeting the racial prejudices of the town. The central symbol of the novel, the mockingbird, further develops the theme of racial prejudice. The unjust trial of Tom Robinson, in which the jury's racial prejudice condemns an innocent man, is symbolically characterized as the shooting of an innocent mockingbird.

Toward the end of the novel, Scout realizes that submitting Boo to a trial would be akin to shooting a mockingbird—just as the prejudice against African Americans influences the trial of Tom Robinson, the town's prejudices against the white but mentally disabled Boo would likely impact a jury's view.

The concept of justice is presented in To Kill a Mockingbird as an antidote to racial prejudice. As a strongly principled, liberal lawyer who defends a wrongly accused black man, Atticus represents a role model for moral and legal justice. Atticus explains to Scout that while he believes the American justice system to be without prejudice, the individuals who sit on the jury often harbor bias, which can taint the workings of the system.

Throughout the majority of the novel, Atticus retains his faith in the system, but he ultimately loses in his legal defense of Tom. As a result of this experience, Atticus expresses a certain disillusionment when, at the conclusion of the book, he agrees to conceal Boo's culpability in the killing of Ewell, recognizing that Boo would be stereotyped by his peers. Atticus decides to act based on his own principles of justice in the end, rather than rely on a legal system that may be fallible.

To Kill a Mockingbird also can be read as a coming-of-age story featuring a young girl growing up in the South and experiencing moral awakenings. Narrated from Scout's point-of-view, the novel demonstrates the now-adult narrator's hindsight perspective on the growth of her identity and outlook on life. In developing a more mature sensibility, the tomboyish Scout challenges the forces attempting to socialize her into a prescribed gender role as a Southern lady. Aunt Alexandra tries to subtly and not-so subtly push Scout into a traditional gender role—a role that often runs counter to her father's values and her own natural inclinations.

Lee has stated that the novel was essentially a long love letter to her father, whom she idolized as a man with deeply held moral convictions.

The neighbor who is clouded and hidden in mystery. Judgment is a major theme in To Kill a Mockingbird. The two notable instances where judgment comes out are:. The mockingbird is used to symbolize innocence in the novel. The symbolism is portrayed in the instances where the goodness and innocence of some characters were bruised and crushed. The story is told by the little six-year-old girl Jean Louise Finch nicknamed Scout. She is a rebellious girl who has tomboy tendencies.

The storyline is based in Maycomb, a small town in Alabama in the s where Scout lives with her elder brother Jem, and her father, Atticus, who is widowed. They have a housekeeper named Calpurnia, who is a stern kind-hearted African-American.

They also befriend Dill, a small boy who comes to visit and stay with his aunt every summer. The timeline is placed during the depression where the status of her father as a respected and successful lawyer alleviates the Finch family from the harshness of the depression gripping the small town.

The two major themes in the novel are judgment and justice. Scout and her brother get to learn some crucial lessons about judging others through the character of Boo, the cryptic and solitary neighbor. Early in the story, the children mimic and mock Radley, but they, later on, come to experience his goodness. The judgment theme is depicted in the circumstances that befell Tom Robinson, a poor African-American field attendant who is accused and put on trial for rape.

He was charged with trying to rape a white woman Mayella Ewell. The racist nature of the white supremacy society places all odds against Tom.

Boo comes to the rescue of the children where Jem is injured, a fight erupts, and Bob is killed. The dominant element of style the author applies in To Kill a Mockingbird is storytelling. The narration style adopts two perspectives; one that of the young girl growing up in hardship and problematic era and that of a grown-up woman reflecting on her childhood memories.

The method of narration applied allows the author to fuse the simplicity of childhood observations with the adulthood situations intricate with veiled motivations and unquestioned custom. The weird and near-supernatural traits of Boo and the aspect of racial injustice concerning Tom Robinson underwrite the quality of the gothic in the novel.

Several practicing professionals have cited the influence Atticus had on their decisions to join law school or shaped their ideology during school days and afterward during practice. Despite the heroic depictions, some critics have come up to maintain the assertion that his figure is irrelevant in the modern profession as he existed in a past era where racism and injustice were the order of the day.

They draw their assumptions from the notion that he does not put his skills to use against the racist status quo in Maycomb. A controversial earlier draft of the novel, which was titled Go Set a Watchman, was released on July 14, The draft was completed in and is set in a timeline 20 years after the time depicted in To Kill a Mockingbird.

The plot is based on the adult Scout Finch who has traveled to Alabama from New York to visit her father. She is then confronted by the intolerance still existing in her society. The novel was intended to be the first in a trilogy with a smaller novel in between the two.

To Kill a Mockingbird was introduced in the classroom as early as This to kill a mockingbird summary is an insight of the general impacts the novel has had on the society. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Academic level Undergraduate Bachelor Professional.


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Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, to Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch Lee. Harper Lee grew up in the small southwestern town of Monroeville in Alabama. Her father, a former newspaper editor and proprietor, was a lawyer who also served on the state legislature (). As a. Bob Ewell is a character in Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Bob Ewell is the head of the Ewell family, a poor family who lives in the town dump. Bob Ewell has many children, but his wife is deceased.

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Free Essay: Ashley Ewing Dr. Cohoon Literary Heritage 18 February Essay One Southern Parallels: An Exploration of the Life of Harper Lee and the Lasting. This free English Literature essay on Essay: Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird' is perfect for English Literature students to use as an example.