To Kill a Mockingbird

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To Kill a Mockingbird

SETTINGThis novel is set in the town of Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s. Although this Southern town is fictional, its inhabitants have very real opinions about the differences between white and black, rich and poor. This reality of 1930s American culture, and how to rise above it, is but one of the lessons that the Finch children have to learn.CONFLICTThe main conflict of this novel is person vs. person, with Bob Ewell accusing Tom Robinson of raping his daughter, Mayella. The conflict evolves into a person vs. society conflict in many ways as the court case involves most of the town's inhabitants, either directly or indirectly.PROTAGONISTJean Louise (Scout) Finch is the protagonist and narrator of the novel. The story is told from teh perspective of the adult Scout, recounting her childhood as a young, innocent and fiesty tomboy, struggling to make sense of a world that seems to have gone mad.

Plot Summary

To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story about two children who are forced to confront the racism and prejudice of their small town in Alabama because of a court case being fought by their lawyer father. This court case pits the nasty and neglectful white man, Bob Ewell, against the hardworking black man, Tom Robinson. The entire town chooses sides and Scout and Jem get caught in the middle. Atticus makes sure that his children learn valuable lessons along the way, which they immediately apply to their misunderstood neighbour, Boo Radley.


Atticus tells his children that it is a "sin to kill a mockingbird" because all they do is "make music for [people] to enjoy" (Lee 90). The mockingbird becomes a symbol of the tragedy that occurs when someone is accused of a heinous act they didn't commit.In discussing the case with his brother, Atticus says, "'The jury couldn't possibly be expected to take Tom Robinson's word against the Ewells' '" (Lee 88). Despite the fact that Bob Ewell has a terrible reputation around town, the fact that his skin is white means that the jury will take his word over Tom's.Scout tells her father about the ending of a story she read: "'an' Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things... Atticus, he was real nice'" (Lee 281). As the final words of the novel, we can see that Scout has learned her father's most important lesson: not to judge a person until you really know them.

Literary Features

Where is the Love? Black Eyed Peas


To Kill a MockingbirdHarper Lee

The main theme of this novel is that prejudice and racism have very negative effects on society, and that people can learn not to be prejudiced by putting themselves in other people's shoes.

This song offers the very same message as can be found in the novel; that racism and prejudice are very negative forces in the world. Racism is something we learn, and if we were just able to see the world through a child's eyes, we would find the love. The fact that this song was written 50 years after the publication of the novel shows the unfortunate reality that these are still problems.


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