Born into a world of segregation and racism, Harper Lee was inspired to write her most popular novel “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Many readers are first introduced to the novel in high school, where it is consistently taught in English courses. To Kill a Mockingbird was not only Harper Lee’s most popular novel but also awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. Most of To Kill a Mockingbird not only focus on the novel but also the author Harper Lee as in the novel “Scout”. Since 1960 Harper Lee has never published anything again she became very mute by refusing nearly all interviews and public appearances (Bernard,8,10).
Harper Lee born Nelle “Harper” Lee in 1926 grew up in Monroeville, Alabama many would call it the “sleepy southern town” with tree-lined sidewalks, a down town square, and friendly people who lived in houses with big front porches. Lee grew up in a small town where racism was in full affect; and based her novel on a racial prejudice and other events that’s she witnessed as a child. Life was hard growing up between all the segregation, racism and having to get old enough to really understand what was going on in the world during that time back then. Harper Lee witnessed plenty of those days as she quoted,
“As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it-whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash”.
Lee did not quote that because she hates white men from what I understand from the quote was treat one how you expect to be treated (Sparknotes: To Kill).
Lee was the youngest child of Amasa Lee “Atticus” and his wife Frances Finch Cunningham Lee. Amasa known as Atticus in the novel was a former newspaper editor, proprietor and a good prominent lawyer and represented Tom Robinson an accused rapist in the town of Maycomb during this time. Amasa was a well respected member of his community and always stressed the importance of education to his children especially scout. The book To Kill A Mockingbird is based basically on the summer Jem Broke his arm, Jem is four years older than Harper and in the novel she describes him as Hardheaded and almost a grown man by the time the novel is over. Like Harper Lee Jem Was older he just didn’t pay attention to the racism and segregation that was going on. It took Jem a long time to understand because he was to busy being hardheaded so when He finally came to the light it was because of the Tom Robinson’s trial. Jem’s reaction to the racism to the racism was not pretty he retaliated on Mrs. Dubose’s azaleas hinting that he is in combat against racism (Enotes: To Kill).
Lee’s closest childhood friend was a boy named Truman Capote “Dill”, whom Also grew up to be a famous writer. Capote did not live in Monroeville his mother moved To Jackson, Mississippi so he would have to take the longest ride ever to spend his Summers visiting. Capote would come every summer and stay with his aunt. Dill Proposes to Scout and although they don’t marry in the book there speculation as to if They exchange vows later, Dill was also a liar when Jem and Scout would ask about his Parents he would say that he does not know where he is. Unfortunately after all the long fun summers reminisced by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird was the last book that she ever published (pinkmonkeynotes: To Kill).
Slavery ended almost a century before “To Kill A Mockingbird” was published in 1960, African Americans were still denied many of their basic rights. African Americans were still not able to use public restrooms or drinking fountains, blacks were even forced to ride in the back of buses. Rosa Parks challenged the idea one day by sitting in the front of the bus, Rosa was then arrested and later on she started a boycott of the bus system. The Justice System was also showing discrimination by arresting African Americans and convicting them with little cause. Although the novel To Kill A Mockingbird was set on the 1930s conditions were almost still the same in the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement was just taking shape in the 1950s so basically everything was just getting started by the 1960s (Grade saver: To Kill).
Majority of the themes in To Kill a Mockingbird is based on racism, during this time racism was at its peak. Although racism is not going on as much in the world today and has not been for centuries, on May 25, 2008 a group of black students in Monroeville, Alabama accused their school of racist treatment towards them such as; if blacks got into a fight with a white student the black student will get suspended for more days. Monroeville is where Harper Lee grew up and based her novel on. Unfortunately it was not only the whites hating the blacks, some African Americans started to retaliate against the whites to protect their selves and their families. Dr. Martin Luther King stood up not just for the African Americans but for everyone to live anywhere they wanted and not be judged by the color of their skin, every since Marin Luther Kings death racism has gone down a lot but sad to say it still exists (Freemonkeynotes: To Kill).
Job’s in the 1930’s were very hard to find because that was the time of The Great Depression especially in 1933. The Great Depression lasted from the late 1920s through the 1930s; many families did not eat days at a time because during the Dust Bowl which lasted until 1936 the mud turned into dust so therefore the crops couldn’t grow. Most of the farmers tried to move to California because gold was there. During this time unemployment rose as high 25 percent so babies were going unclothed, bills not paid which would lead to eviction, and families unfed. Today’s unemployment rate is 5 and 6 percent which is good compared to how it used to be in the 1930s (Cliffnotes: To Kill).
Education in Monroeville, Alabama in the 1930s money was scarce just like job’s were because of the Great Depression. Schools were segregated during that time and long after, segregation was emancipated by the 1950s but treatments of higher education generally failed to pay attention to the ways segregation worked. Lip service which is what people used to do to teach children before public school came along. In 1932 most Americans, decided that they could not afford school, in many states schools rank near the bottom in educational achievement. Therefore most schools had low paid and poorly qualified teachers (Frank, 6965).
To Kill A Mockingbird is an amazing story with many characters, some of the characters were good and some were bad, most were just confused and following up others with all the segregation and racism. One of the main characters in the book “Atticus” kind of kept the town together and tried to keep peace between everyone, Atticus’s role in the novel is Scout’s and Jem’s father, and a lawyer who defended Tom Robinson an accused rapist which was one of Atticus’s biggest cases. Atticus was a very honest person and he did not go forward with things unless it has a good cause. He always went the extra mile to instruct his children to be generous, honest and good citizens. From my point of view Atticus is not a prejudice person and everyone in the town turns their back on him because of that, Atticus did not care what people thought of him and his family because if he did he would not have bothered to keep trying to get the jury to see Tom Robinson was not guilty of his charge (Lee, 67).
Harper Lee is the life of To Kill a Mockingbird, the novel is known for its humor and generosity. Queen of Tomboys which many people would call scout because she was very rough to be a girl and she didn’t have any female friends, she loved to hang around her brother Jem, Lee was the hardheaded child she always did the opposite of what she was told. As a child Lee would witness many things in her home town that she knew wasn’t right but there was nothing she could do about it. There was many times where Scout, Dill, and Jem would sneak into town to go to Tom Robinson’s court date to see what was the case that everyone around town was talking about because no one would tell them. Scout was not only a hardheaded child she did listen to her father when he would stress to her that education and learning was the most important thing in life even though it may not have seemed like it at times, she also learned to read before she started school Jem was older but she was reading better than him. Harper Lee is a very outspoken person which one might say “what comes up comes out” might come out in the right situation but the wrong time, Atticus has always told his children to be honest, Scout is very honest in fact she does not bite her tongue at all. In the end she is still considered a good person in my book because of the way that Atticus raised her not to follow other people and their thoughts (Frank, 6967).
To Kill A Mockingbird starts off on the summer that Jeremy Finch “Jem” (brother) broke his arm, Jem is the type of boy who has a very good imagination and loves to make up stories and imagine things about Arthur Radley “Boo”. Jem really starts to believe his own stories and begin to think that Boo is a monster because he has never seen him. Jem would think that it was Boo that was putting the dolls, gum, and money in the tree stomp, which he would talk to scout about taking them when she would check the tree everyday over the summer. Being the big brother and doing the teasing that big brothers do to their younger siblings, Jem would tease Scout about being a girl which made Jem feel big. The Tom Robinson’s trial effected Jem badly when Atticus lost because he knew that Tom was not guilty. Around this time Jem continues to mature and had less time for Scout, but Jem would also protect Scout walking her to school, and even fighting Ewell to protect her and that’s how his arm was broken, Jem looks up to his father a lot in fact he calls himself a gentleman like Atticus (Lee, 86).
While most whites during that time were to busy judging African Americans the Finch Family had a maid by the name of Calpurnia, Scout used to think of her as the wicked step mother and she also thought that Calpurnia was mean. Scout would always think that Calpurnia was against her or to hard on her and that Calpurnia was to mean to admit that she was wrong when situations occurred, Scout quoted ” She was all angles and bones, nearsighted, her hand was as wide as a bed slat and twice as hard. She was always ordering me out of the kitchen, asking me why I couldn’t behave as well as Jem when she knew he was older, and calling me home when she know I wasn’t ready to come home. Our battles were epic and one-sided, Calpurnia always won mainly because Atticus always took her side”. As the days went by Scout realized that Calpurnia was hard on her because she cares about her. The Finch Family loved Calpurnia she was a good cook, she kept the house clean, she even took them to church with her once and she surprised Scout and Jem because she spoke in a voice that they had never heard her use before(Pinkmonkey: To Kill).
Throughout the long the long hot summer days in Maycomb, Alabama Tom Robinson was a twenty-five year old black man during this time who was accused of raping Mayella Ewell. Tom Robinson had a wife named Helen and three children, the trial made it very hard for Robinson’s family emotionally and physically. As noticed by Scout which Atticus brought up at the trial to prove Tom’s innocence that Tom’s left arm is useless and shriveled, making it impossible for him to beat Mayella because all of her bruises were in the right side of her face. At the trial Tom even stated that he felt sorry for Mayella but none of that did any good because Tom was still convicted of the charge, soon after with everything that was going on while Tom was in jail he attempts to escape and was shot seventeen times and killed (Enotes: To Kill).
Arthur Radley “Boo” is the talk of Maycomb because no one knows what to expect from him because he has not been seen or heard from for a long time, Jem made up the stories about Boo saying that he stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors and was taken to jail. Many people judged Boo because he never came outside, as a teenager Boo fell into a bad crowd and had to go in front of a judge and soon after he was released his father took him home and punished him with religion. People in the town did not know how good of a person Radley was , he rescued Scout, Dill, and Jem when Bob Ewell tried to kill them, in self-defense Boo stabs Bob Ewell with a kitchen knife. At the Boo. Mr. Heck Tate convinces Atticus that Bob fell on his own knife because he was drunk and stumbled over a tree root (Sparknotes: To Kill ).
Robert “Bob” Ewell is Mayella’s father, many would describe him as a good for nothing father who spends all of his money on liquor. Bob is one of the main characters in the novel that wants Tom convicted of raping his daughter. The truth of the story is Tom Robinson did not rape Mayella, Bob walked in and saw Mayella kiss Tom, Bob was so angry because his daughter had kissed a black man that he beat Mayella black and blue, then called the police and accused Tom Robinson of raping his daughter. Although Tom is convicted, Atticus humiliates Bob by telling the jury what really happened that day and his abuse of alcoholic beverages. Bob wanted to seek revenge so he tries to break into the judge’s house, he also harasses Helen Robinson (Tom’s wife), then he attacks Jem, Dill, and Scout to try and get back at Atticus but was killed by Boo while he attempts to do so.
Mayella “Violet” Ewell is Bob Ewell’s daughter and also Tom Robinson’s accuser. Mayella is the oldest child and she goes through a lot of stress because she has to take care of her younger siblings, they only go to school for the first day of each year because they cant afford to go because their father uses all their money on alcohol. Mayella’s mother died when she was just a child and every since then Mayella basically became her father’s mate and her siblings mother. In the trial Mayella admits that she might as well kiss a grown man because what her father does to her doesn’t count. The bruises on her right side indicated that a left-handed person had to beat Mayella because Tom couldn’t have done such thing because his left arm is paralyzed. Mayella admits that she tried to seduce Tom Robinson, her father saw it and beat her up and called her all kinds of names.
Though there are many versions of the novel, To Kill A Mockingbird’s time period is set in 1936 when Harper Lee was ten years old. Lee wrote the novel to express her feelings and to let the world see some of the things that were going on in the 1920s and 30s.The novel is based on Lee as a child and her observations and things that were going on in Maycomb. To Kill A Mockingbird was published in 1960 and since then it has became a classic. The novel takes place during the Great Depression and the information is three main years of Lee’s life.
The time period of the film To Kill A Mockingbird is 1962, it is also ranked number one on the list of best courtroom films. Because of all the props of Atticus’s role in the novel in 2003 he was named the greatest movie hero in the 20th century. The film is based on the mystery surrounding Boo Radley and the Tom Robinson’s trial. The film is very different from the novel, the film was not made up by Harper Lee, in the film it was acted out that Scout found a peace of metal in the tree, in the novel it is treasure that she finds in the tree stomp. The film also omits lots of parts from the novel and changes it around (Enotes: To Kill).
The novel and film of To Kill A Mockingbird may have the same title but they are very different, they are not meant to be the exact same. Though the novel and the film have differences they also have similarities, such as when Tom Robinson died in the book he also died in the film, it would have been the same if he had stayed alive in the film. Another similarity is in the novel Atticus, Atticus was well respected by the African American community as well as in the film. I think that the movie producers took out just enough facts and added just enough on the 1962 version of To Kill a Mockingbird. Many might say that the film of To Kill A Mockingbird is not true because facts are changed and other things are added, although that may be true but the novel and film versions are still by Harper Lee(Pinkmonkeynotes: To Kill).
It may be true that Atticus was well respected by the African American community, as the Tom Robinson’s case took place there was a lot of man vs. man going on in Maycomb, Alabama. In the beginning Atticus was well respected by everyone because of the good and kind of person that he was. The moment Atticus begins to defend Tom Robinson and proves his innocence everyone began to hate Atticus. I think that the town of Maycomb was wrong for harassing Atticus and his family because of him defending Tom Robinson; if Atticus was defending anyone else he would have done the same. People in Maycomb did not understand why Atticus was defending Tom Robinson, many did not see that it was because he was just doing his job and if it were someone else he would have done the same, they were just concerned about the fact that Atticus was defending an African American(Cliffnotes: To Kill).
Unfortunately it was not only man vs. man going on at this time in the South. Man vs. Society was one of the biggest themes against African Americans in the 1930s. An example of man vs. society is that Tom Robinson has a paralyzed arm so there is no way that he could have raped Mayella Ewell. Tom Robinson’s arm was as small and shriveled up as a dried grape, Atticus threw a balled up piece of paper at Tom unrepentantly to prove to the jury that Tom could not move his left arm. The jury still found Tom guilty of a charge that he did not commit, they knew Tom was innocent but he was still charged.
In the novel To Kill A Mockingbird there were a lot of good characters and there were a lot of evil characters. As we all may know, Atticus was a good character because of his honesty and help towards Maycomb, Alabama. Many did not know it until the end of the novel but Boo Radley was also a good character, Boo saved Jem, Dill and Scout’s life at the end of the novel, then Scout realizes that he actually is a nice person and that he was outstanding, Tom was convicted on a rape charge that he did not commit, he was just a 25-year-old African American trying to make a living for his family. I think that out of all the evil characters in the novel Bob Ewell is the most hateful one, Ewell tried to kill Jem and Scout to get back at Atticus for embarrassing him in court.
Monroeville, Alabama was a town of racism, the Great Depression left many people without money, a place to live, and jobs. Most African Americans were slaves, some worked in the fields and some were servants. During the Dust Bowl many people left because of crop failure. Monroeville was also segregated where African Americans could not go to certain parks or any other public places at the wrong time. Times were hard in the 1920s and 30s for African Americans and some whites, such as Atticus and his family during the Tom Robinson trial.
As said in the novel by Harper Lee “Never kill a Mockingbird, mockingbirds don’t harm you, all they do is sing”. Tom Robinson is considered a mockingbirdbbecause he never hurt anyone he was accused of something he didn’t do. Boo Radley is also a Mockingbird because how can you judge someone you can’t see? Boo Radley was judged as a crazy person because of how he always stayed in the house, come to find out when he does come out everyone finds out about the true Boo Radley. I would consider Dr. Martin Luther King a Mockingbird because he was killed trying to bring peace to the world. The moral is don’t judge someone by what you cannot see.