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Encyclopedia > To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird

Author Harper Lee
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Southern Gothic (semi-autobiographical)
Publisher Lippincott
Publication date July 11, 1960
Media type Print (Hardback and Paperback)
Pages 336 (Hardcover 40th Anniversary edition)
ISBN ISBN 0-06-019499-5 (Hardcover 40th Anniversary edition)

To Kill a Mockingbird is a Southern Gothic bildungsroman novel by Harper Lee. Published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. The novel is loosely based on the lives of various friends and members of the author's family, but with differing character names. Lee has acknowledged that the character Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, who serves as the novel's narrator, is somewhat based on herself.[1] Image File history File links Mockingbirdfirst. ... Nelle Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926) is an American novelist known for her Pulitzer Prize–winning 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, her only major work to date. ... In political geography and international politics, a country is a political division of a geographical entity, a sovereign territory, most commonly associated with the notions of state or nation and government. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Southern Gothic is a subgenre of the Gothic writing style, unique to American literature. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... is the 192nd day of the year (193rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... ISBN-13 represented as EAN-13 bar code (in this case ISBN 978-3-16-148410-0) The International Standard Book Number, ISBN, is a unique[1] commercial book identifier barcode. ... Southern Gothic is a subgenre of the Gothic writing style, unique to American literature. ... A Bildungsroman (IPA: /, German: novel of personal development) is a novelistic form which concentrates on the spiritual, moral, psychological, or social development and growth of the protagonist usually from childhood to maturity. ... Nelle Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926) is an American novelist known for her Pulitzer Prize–winning 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, her only major work to date. ... See also: 1959 in literature, other events of 1960, 1961 in literature, list of years in literature. ... The Pulitzer Prize is an American award regarded as the highest national honor in print journalism, literary achievements, and musical composition. ...


To Kill a Mockingbird contains many themes such as selfishness, hatred, courage, pride, prejudice, and life's many stages, set against a backdrop of life in the Deep South. The book was successfully adapted for film by director Robert Mulligan with a screenplay by Horton Foote in 1962. To date, it is Lee's only published novel. Regional definitions vary from source to source. ... To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 film directed by Robert Mulligan and based on the novel of the same name by Harper Lee. ... Robert Mulligan (born August 23, 1925 in The Bronx, New York) is an American film and television director. ... Horton Foote (born 1916), is an American author and playwright, most noted for his 1983 Oscar-winning screenplay Tender Mercies. ... // Events Dr. No launches the James Bond film series, the longest-running motion picture franchise of all time, running more than 40 years. ...

Contents

Explanation of the novel's title

After giving Jem and Scout air-rifles as Christmas presents, Atticus warns the children that, although they can "shoot all the bluejays they want," they must remember that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird". Miss Maudie Atkinson, the children's neighbor, later explains that it is a sin because mockingbirds do no harm. They only provide pleasure with their songs: "They don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us". The mockingbird is used as a recurring motif to symbolize innocence and victims of injustice throughout the novel. Binomial name Linnaeus, 1758 The Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) is a passerine bird and member of the crow family Corvidae native to North America. ... Genera Melanotis Mimus Nesomimus Mockingbirds are a group of New World passerine birds from the Mimidae family. ...


Plot overview

The novel is a coming of age story about a sister and a brother named Jean Louise "Scout" Finch and Jeremy Atticus "Jem" Finch respectively, who are growing up in the fictional small town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the Deep South of America in 1935. The story takes place over a period of three years and is told through the recollections of the younger sister, Jean Louise Finch or "Scout", as she is commonly referred to by friends. During the story the children's father, attorney Atticus Finch, is appointed to defend a black man (Tom Robinson) who has been accused of raping a white girl (Mayella Ewell).


Plot summary

Scout Finch lives with her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus, a middle-aged lawyer, in Maycomb county, Alabama. One summer, Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Charles Baker Harris (Dill), who has come to live in their neighborhood for the summer. They are afraid of a man named Boo Radley, a mysterious recluse who has lived in the next door house for years without venturing outside in daylight. Boo is infamous for the rumors that abound about him in Maycomb County as a result of his reclusiveness, the most famous being that he once stabbed his father in the leg on an impulse, and that he sneaks out of the house every night, eats squirrels and cats and lurks outside people's houses.


Scout goes to school for the first time that autumn and has a disastrous day, but gives the readers an introduction to the Ewell family in one of her classmates, the child of infamous town drunk Bob Ewell, layabout and ne'er-do-well who has built a house on the town dump. On the way home, she and Jem find gifts apparently left for them in a knothole of a tree on the Radley property. Dill returns the following summer, and he, Scout, and Jem begin to act out the story of Boo Radley. Atticus puts a stop to their antics, urging the children to try to see life from another person's perspective before making judgments. But on Dill's last night in Maycomb for the summer, the three sneak onto the Radley property, where Nathan Radley shoots in the air, scaring them away. Jem loses his pants in the ensuing escape. When he returns for them, he finds them mended and hung over the fence. The next winter, Jem and Scout find presents in a tree, presumably left for them by the mysterious Boo. Boo's brother Nathan Radley eventually plugs the knothole with cement claiming it was "diseased". However, when the children ask Atticus of the tree's health, he says that it is perfectly fine. Jem breaks down, understanding that their first friendly connection with Boo Radley had been severed. Scout, being too young, thinks of it only as the end of the presents.


To the consternation of Maycomb's racist white community, Atticus was allocated to defend a black man named Thomas Robinson (Tom), who has been accused of raping Mayella Ewell. Although not choosing to defend him, Atticus nevertheless agrees. Atticus promises to defend Tom Robinson to his best ability because of his firm belief in the equal rights of all men. Because of Atticus's decision, Jem and Scout are subjected to abuse from other children, even when they celebrate Christmas at the family compound on Finch's Landing. Calpurnia, the Finches' black cook, takes them to the local black church, where the warm and close-knit community largely embraces the children.


Atticus's sister, Alexandra, comes to live with the Finches the next summer. Dill, who is supposed to live in another town with his "new father" who hasn't paid enough attention to him, runs away and comes to Maycomb. Scout finds him hiding under her bed. Tom Robinson's trial begins, and when the accused man is placed in the local jail, a mob gathers to lynch him. Atticus faces the mob down the night before the trial. Jem, Dill, and Scout, who sneaked out of the house, soon join him and refuse Atticus's advice to leave. Scout recognizes one of the men as Walter Cunningham, father of one of her schoolmates, and her polite questioning about his son shames him into dispersing the mob. Lynching is a form of violence, usually murder, conceived of by its perpetrators as extrajudicial punishment for offenders or as a terrorist method of enforcing social domination. ...


At the trial itself, the children sit in the "colored balcony" with the town's black citizens. Atticus provides clear evidence that the accusers, Mayella Ewell and her father, Bob Ewell, are lying: in fact, it was Mayella who was making sexual advances towards Tom Robinson, and then was caught. The marks on Mayella's face are from wounds that her father inflicted upon discovering her with Tom; he called her a whore and beat her. Everyone pointed out that the right side of Mayella's face was bruised, which would show that the abuser was left-handed. Mr. Bob Ewell himself is left-handed and Tom was handicapped on his left arm. Yet, despite the significant evidence pointing to Tom's innocence, the all-white jury convicts him. The innocent Tom later tries to escape from prison and is shot seventeen times, killing him. In the aftermath of the trial, Jem's faith in justice is badly shaken because of the unbelievable verdict, and he lapses into despondency and doubt as Tom Robinson's verdict was chosen by the jury clearly because he was black.


Despite the verdict, Bob Ewell feels that Atticus and the judge have made a fool out of him and he vows revenge. He menaces Tom Robinson's widow, tries to break into the judge's house, spits in Atticus' face on a town street, and finally attacks Jem and Scout as they walk home from a Halloween pageant at their school. After a brief scuffle in the dark, in which Scout gets confused and loses track of what's going on, she sees unconcious Jem being carried home by a stranger, later to be revealed as Boo Radley. The sheriff arrives with the news that Bob Ewell has died of a knife wound to the stomach; Atticus at first believes that Jem fatally stabbed Ewell in the struggle, but the sheriff insists that Ewell tripped over a tree root and fell on his own knife. It is evident (although unsaid) that Boo had actually intervened and killed Ewell to save the children; the sheriff wishes to protect the reclusive Boo, contrary to Atticus's belief, from the publicity certain to follow from the townspeople if they learned the truth of Boo's involvement. Atticus asks if Scout understands what is going on, Scout replies that doing otherwise would be "like shootin' a mockingbird" (as Boo had done nothing to hurt them and has only done good). After sitting with Jem for a while, Scout is asked to walk Boo home. While standing on the Radley porch, Scout imagines many past events from Boo's perspective and feels sorry for him because she and Jem never gave him a chance, and never repaid him for the gifts that he had given them.


Walking back home from the Radley house, she recalls all the events that have happened so far in the story (which have taken up about two or three years) and comes home to Atticus and a sedated Jem. After being read to from The Gray Ghost, she remarks to Atticus that the hero of the book he read to her turned out to be a nice person; Atticus leaves her with the words: "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them".


Characters

For a more detailed character list, including minor characters, see Main Article: Characters in To Kill a Mockingbird This is a character list from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. ...

  • Jean Louise "Scout" Finch - the novel's narrator. We see the world of Maycomb from her point of view, and her childhood innocence is used to expose the illogical and hypocritical prejudices which exist in the town.
  • Jeremy Atticus "Jem" Finch - Scout's older brother. At first he is shown to be childlike, but as the novel progresses he matures due to his father's parenting, and by the end is very similar to Atticus in many ways, although he has only just become a teenager.
  • Atticus Finch - Scout's father, and the lawyer who defends Tom Robinson. He is shown to have very high moral standards and retains his integrity by maintaining these values in all situations, no matter what the consequences.
  • Calpurnia - the Finches' black housekeeper, who although she is a servant, is treated as a member of the family by the Finches, unusual in the racist society that the book is set in.
  • Alexandra Hancock (née Finch) - Atticus's sister. She comes to live with the Finches to ensure that Jem and Scout are brought up correctly, as she is concerned about Atticus's style of parenting.
  • Charles Baker "Dill" Harris - a friend of Jem and Scout. Neglected by his mother and her partner, he spends time with various relatives, including his Aunt Rachel in Maycomb in summer, which is how he befriends the children. He is very small for his age, and is shown to have an impressive imagination.
  • Mayella Violet Ewell - the girl who accuses Tom Robinson of rape. Although in reality she had fallen in love with him and embraced him, prompting her father's violent outburst, she was forced by Bob Ewell to lie under oath and testify that Tom Robinson had beaten and raped her.
  • Robert "Bob" Ewell - the father of Mayella, he was accused of numerous beatings to his daughter. Only evidential in Atticus' testimony, used her beaten up body as evidence for his abuse for her embracing Tom Robinson. Although never specifically stated, readers can be implicitly led to believe Bob raped Mayella. After making several threats towards Atticus, he is killed by Arthur "Boo" Radley in the climax of the novel, in the act of attempting to murder Jem and Scout to get revenge on Atticus for his role in the court case.
  • Tom Robinson - the black man accused of raping Mayella Ewell. He only has the use of his right hand, as his left arm is crippled from a childhood accident. Although Atticus establishes his innocence, he is nevertheless convicted and is later shot dead attempting to escape jail.
  • Arthur "Boo" Radley - a shy recluse who is kind to the children. At various points throughout the novel he reaches out to them in small acts of kindness, and ultimately saves their lives by confronting and killing Bob Ewell, who planned to murder them.
  • Walter Cunningham - Poor farmer boy who was a classmate of Scout's and whose father was a client of Atticus'. In attempting to be polite to Walter's father, Scout unknowingly thwarted the lynching of Tom Robinson.
  • Little Chuck Little - Another poor classmate of Scout's whose manners were impeccable and directly contrary to those of Burris Ewell.
  • Burris Ewell - Scout's first introduction to the Ewell family: a filthy, profane 1st grader who swears at the teacher and walks out of school.
  • Miss Caroline - Scout's young, beautiful first grade teacher, who demonstrates intolerance for Atticus' teaching methods, and ignorance of the ways of the people of Maycomb.

Atticus Finch is a character in Harper Lees Pulitzer Prize-winning fictional novel To Kill a Mockingbird. ... Lynching is a form of violence, usually murder, conceived of by its perpetrators as extrajudicial punishment for offenders or as a terrorist method of enforcing social domination. ...

Literary significance and criticism

When it first appeared, The Atlantic Monthly's reviewer rated it as "pleasant, undemanding reading," but found the narrative voice ("a six-year-old girl with the prose style of a well-educated adult") to be implausible.[2] Overall, though, critical response was enthusiastic as the book's ethical themes had an obvious relevance to current events in American race relations. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961 and adapted into a critically-acclaimed film in 1962. The Atlantic redirects here; for the ocean, see Atlantic Ocean. ... The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction has been awarded since 1948 for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. ... The following are the Pulitzer Prizes for 1961. ... // Events Dr. No launches the James Bond film series, the longest-running motion picture franchise of all time, running more than 40 years. ...


Over the years, To Kill a Mockingbird has become part of the standard canon of literature taught in schools. It has sold over 30 million copies and been translated into over 40 languages. It was voted the "Best Novel of the 20th Century" by readers of the Library Journal in 1999. Library Journal is a trade publication for librarians. ... Year 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1999 Gregorian calendar). ...


The book's treatment of racial bigotry and possible stereotyping of African American characters has led to it being removed from some libraries. The American Library Association reported that To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the 100 most frequently challenged books of 1990-2000[3], and cites several cases from that period and earlier of the book being challenged or banned[4].


Allusions/references to reality

The novel is semi-autobiographical, and Scout is based on the author herself, Harper Lee, who grew up in Monroeville, Alabama. Monroeville was also the inspiration for the fictional town of Maycomb. The surname 'Finch' is taken from the author's mother's maiden name. Scout's father, Atticus, is said to be based on Lee's father, Amasa Coleman Lee, who was also an attorney, and additionally the character of Dill is purportedly based on the author's childhood friend and neighbor Truman Capote. Furthermore, the trial of Tom Robinson has some similarities to the Scottsboro Trials that really took place in Scottsboro, Alabama in the 1930s. However there are several differences, e.g., the Scottsboro trial involved nine defendants instead of just one. Monroeville is a city in Monroe County, Alabama, United States. ... Truman Capote (pronounced ) (30 September 1924 – 25 August 1984) was an American writer whose non-fiction, stories, novels and plays are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffanys (1958) and In Cold Blood (1965), which he labeled a non-fiction novel. ... The case of the Scottsboro Boys arose in Scottsboro, Alabama during the 1930s, when nine black youths, ranging in age from thirteen to nineteen, were accused of raping two white women, one of whom would later recant. ... Scottsboro is a city in Jackson County, Alabama, and is included in the Huntsville-Decatur Combined Statistical Area. ...


Awards

Year 1961 (MCMLXI) was a common year starting on Sunday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction has been awarded since 1948 for distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life. ...

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The book was made into the well-received and Academy Award-winning film, starring Gregory Peck, with the same title, To Kill a Mockingbird, in 1962. Although he never won an Oscar for any of his movie performances, the comedian Bob Hope received two honorary Oscars for his contributions to cinema. ... Film is a term that encompasses individual motion pictures, the field of film as an art form, and the motion picture industry. ... To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 film directed by Robert Mulligan and based on the novel of the same name by Harper Lee. ...


This book has also been adapted as a play by Christopher Sergel.


Release details

  • 1960, USA, J.B. Lippincott ISBN 0397001517, Pub date July 11, 1960, Hardcover
  • 1999, USA, HarperCollins ISBN ISBN 0060194995, Pub date December 1, 1999, Hardcover

See also

To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1962 film directed by Robert Mulligan and based on the novel of the same name by Harper Lee. ... Nelle Harper Lee (born April 28, 1926) is an American novelist known for her Pulitzer Prize–winning 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird, her only major work to date. ... Atticus Finch is a character in Harper Lees Pulitzer Prize-winning fictional novel To Kill a Mockingbird. ... The case of the Scottsboro Boys arose in Scottsboro, Alabama during the 1930s, when nine black youths, ranging in age from thirteen to nineteen, were accused of raping two white women, one of whom would later recant. ... Maycomb is a small Alabama town that was created by Harper Lee in the book, To Kill a Mockingbird. ... Since To Kill a Mockingbirds publication in 1960, there have been many references and allusions to it in popular culture. ...

References

  1. ^ Shields, Charles (2006). Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. Henry Holt and Co.. ISBN 080507919X. 
  2. ^ Adams, Phoebe (August 1960) "A Review". Atlantic Monthly.
  3. ^ 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000
  4. ^ Banned and/or Challenged Books

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Preceded by
Advise and Consent
by Allen Drury
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
1961
Succeeded by
The Edge of Sadness
by Edwin O'Connor

  Results from FactBites:
 
To Kill a Mockingbird (9004 words)
The mockingbird of the proverb is a harmless creature which does its best to please its hearers by singing, but which is defenceless against hunters.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a conventional literary novel.
To Kill a Mockingbird is not “grown-up” in the sense of being full of sex scenes, swearing and violence.
To Kill a Mockingbird News (667 words)
AUTHOR HARPER Lee's only book is "To Kill a Mockingbird," but that one book has had an influence like few others.
Macy, would be a Gregory Peck type as in "To Kill a Mockingbird." From our teacher we learned more than just the the 3 R's.
Harper Lee, author of the novel "To Kill A Mockingbird," has written a rare published item - a letter for Oprah Winfrey 's magazine on how she became a reader as a child in a rural, Depression-era Alabama...
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