Today in this post I will share, To Kill a Mockingbird book summary and review. To Kill a Mockingbird is an American drama novel written and published by Harper Lee in 1960. He achieved rapid success and won the Pulitzer Prize and became a classic of American literature. The plot is loosely based on Lee’s observations about her family and neighbors, as well as an event that took place near her town in 1936, when she was 10 years old.

to kill a mockingbird summary

The novel is adorned with warmth and humor, despite dealing with serious themes of rape and racial discrimination. The character of the father in the novel, Atticus Finch, later served as a moral guide and hero to many readers and lawyers. One critic explains the novel's impact with these words: "In the 20th century, Killing a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book on races in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, is the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism."

The themes of The Mockingbird, a novel described as Bildungsroman, are racial injustice and the destruction of innocence. Examiners noted that Lee also talks about social strata, courage, compassion, and the roles of women in the American South. The book is on the reading list of many schools in English-speaking countries because it has lessons that emphasize tolerance and call for justice. Despite their themes, there were also groups that wanted to remove the novel from school classrooms because of allegedly controversial racial epithets.

Given the large number of copies sold and its presence in education, the novel was relatively rarely the subject of literary analysis. Author Mary McDonough Murphy, who has gathered impressions from several authors and public figures about the novel, called the Mockingbird a "stunning phenomenon." In 2006, British librarians ranked the novel above the Bible as one of "those books that every adult must read before he dies."

It was adapted into the 1962 film of the same name, directed by Robert Mulligan and written by Horton Foote. Since 1990, a play based on the novel has been performed every year in Lee’s hometown, Monroeville, Alabama. It was Lee's only novel published, until 2015, when the second, Go Set a Watchman, was published, which is considered an earlier version of the same story, and although she continued to follow the influence of her book, she refused any publicity since 1964. for himself or for a novel.

To Kill a Mockingbird book summary

Born in 1926, Harper Lee grew up in the southern city of Monroeville, Alabama, where she befriended future famous writer Truman Capote. She attended Huntingdon University in Montgomery (1944-45) and then studied law at the University of Alabama (1945-49). While attending university, she wrote for on-campus magazines: Huntress and Rammer Jammer. At both universities, she wrote short stories and other works on racial injustice, a topic that was rarely mentioned on campus at the time.

In 1950, Lee moved to New York, where she worked as a booking agent for a British airline; there she began writing a collection of essays and short stories about the people of Monroeville. Hoping to be published, she presented her works in 1957 to a literary agent recommended by Capote. 

The editor at the J. B. Lippincott publishing house advised her to resign from the airline and focus on writing. Thanks to donations from friends, including Michael and Joy Brown and Alice Lee Finch, they allowed her to write without interruption for a year. 

Lee eventually spent two and a half years writing Kill the Mockingbird. According to one anecdote, she became so frustrated that she threw the manuscript out the window into the snow, and her agent forced her to pick it up again. The novel was published on July 11, 1960, and was originally called Atticus. Lee then renamed it so that the story would reflect a larger scope than just one character. Lippincott's editorial board warned Lee that it would probably sell only a few thousand copies.

In 1964, Lee recalled that period and stated: "I never expected any success with Rugalica. ... I was just hoping for a quick and painless death in the hands of the reviewers, but, at the same time, I was hoping that someone would like me enough to I encouraged the little one, as I said, but I got a lot instead, and in a way it's just as terrifying as the quick, painless death I expected. "  Reader's Digest Condensed Books chose to the book was reprinted, which immediately gave it a widespread readership. Since its first publication, the book has never been out of print.


The ancestor of the Finch family, Simon Finch, a Methodist, escaped religious intolerance in England and moved to Alabama, where he became wealthy and bought several slaves.

The main action takes place three years after the Great Depression in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama. The protagonist is six-year-old Scout Finch, who lives with her older brother Jem and single father Atticus, who is a lawyer. Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill who visited their town to stay with his aunt all summer. The three children are afraid of their neighbor, the estranged "Boo" Radley. 

Adults are reluctant to talk about Boo. Children develop the craziest theories as to why he is hiding and think about how to lure him out of the house. Scout and Jem discover that someone leaves them small gifts on a tree near Boo's house, but he never reports in person.

Atticus gets a new case: to defend black Tom Robinson from the accusation that he raped a white woman, Mayella Ewell, which suddenly makes him very unpopular in the city. This spills over into Scout and Jem as well, as the kids tease them about it. 

Atticus is even once confronted by an angry mob that wants to take Tom to a lynching, but is saved by Scout, Jem and Dill when they embarrass the crowd by presenting the situation from Atticus and Tom’s perspective.

Atticus does not want the children to take part in the trial, but they still secretly find themselves in the courtroom and secretly watch the lawsuit from the balcony. Atticus establishes that Mayella and her father, Bob Ewell, a city drunkard, are lying. 

It also becomes obvious that Mayella has no friends and was shooting at Tom, but her father caught her and beat her. Despite significant evidence of Tom's innocence, the jury convicted him. Jem no longer believes in justice, nor does Atticus after Tom is shot and killed when he wanted to escape from prison.

Although he won the lawsuit, Bob Ewell's reputation is ruined and he wants revenge. He spits on Atticus' face in the street and threatens Tom's widow. Finally, anger erupts on helpless Jem and Scout as they return from school at night during the masquerade. Jem's arm is broken in resistance, but then someone comes to help the children: Boo Radley, who takes Jem home.

The city sheriff arrives and discovers that Bob Ewell was killed in a skirmish to protect the children. He then discusses with Atticus the ethics and justification of holding Jem and Boo accountable. Atticus eventually accepts the sheriff’s story that Elwell simply fell on his own knife. Boo asks Scout to escort him to his house, greets her, and then disappears behind the door again. As she sits on the swing of the Radley House, Scout imagines life from Bo’s perspective and regrets never returning the gifts he gave them.

Autobiographical elements

Lee stated that the Mockingbird is not an autobiography, but rather an example of how an author "should write about what he knows and write honestly." Still, some characters and events draw parallels with Lee’s childhood. Lee's father, Amasa Coleman Lee, was a lawyer, as was Atticus Finch, and in 1919 he defended two black men accused of murder. After being hanged, killed and mutilated, he was never again a lawyer in any court proceedings. Lee's father was also the editor of the Monroeville newspaper. 

Although he was more in favor of racial segregation than Atticus, he changed his mind over the years and became more liberal in this regard. Although Scout's mother died when she was young, Lee was 25 when her mother, Frances Cunningham Finch, died. Lee's mother had neuroses and was mentally and emotionally absent. Lee had a brother, Edwin, who was - like the fictional Jem - four years older than her. As in the novel, the black maid came daily to take care of Lee’s house and family.

Lee shaped Dill's character into a childhood friend, Truman Capote, then known as Truman Persons. Just as Dill lived just across the street from Scout during the summer, Capote lived across the street from Lee with his aunts while his mother was in New York. [18] Like Dill, Capote had an impressive imagination and a gift for fascinating stories. 

Both Lee and Capote were atypical children and loved to read. Lee was masculine and quickly got into a fight, while Capote was ridiculed for his advanced vocabulary and stuttering. They would write stories together. Capote called them "separated people." [19] In 1960, Capote and Lee traveled to Kansas to investigate the multiple murders that later became the basis for Capote's true novel Cold Blooded Murder.

Near them was a house that served as a model for the Radley estate. The son of the family found himself in the middle of a law problem and his father advised him to be mostly in the house, out of shame from the neighborhood. He remained so until he was completely forgotten and died in 1952. 

Tom's origins are less clear. When Lee was 10, a white woman near Monroeville accused a black man - Walter Lett - of rape. The story was covered by her father's newspaper and it was announced that Lett was sentenced to death. After several letters that Lett was in fact innocent, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He died there of tuberculosis in 1937. 

Academics believe Tom's case is similar to the infamous Scottsboro Boys lawsuit, in which nine black men were convicted of raping two white women based on loose evidence. However, in 2005, Lee stated that she had something less sensational in mind, although the Scottsboro case would have "served the same purpose" to point out prejudices in the American South. 

Emmett Till, a black teenager who was killed for flirting with a white woman in Mississippi in 1955, and whose death is sometimes cited as the trigger for the civil rights movement, is also seen as a model for Tom Robinson in the story.

To Kill a Mockingbird book review

The strongest element of the style, according to critics, is Lee's talent for narration, which one Time review called "palpably brilliant." Analyzing the novel a decade later, one academic noted that "Harper Lee has an extraordinary gift for storytelling. Her art is so visual, cinematically fluid, and subtle that we see one scene transition into another without a twitch of transition."

Lee merges. the voice of a child narrator observing an environment with an adult woman who remembers childhood, exploiting the vagueness of this voice with a narrative ‘flashback’ technique to play with perspectives.

This narrative method allows Lee to tell a "wonderfully misleading" story that combines the simplicity of children's observation with adult situations that complicate secret motivations and unconditional tradition. 

Yet this connection sometimes leads the reader to wonder how Scout has such a depth of understanding.  Both Harding LeMay and literary critic Granville Hicks have expressed doubts that children as protected as Scout and Jem can understand the complexity and horror of Tom Robinson's trial. 

Writing about Lee's style and use of humor in the dark story, Jacqueline Tavernier-Courbin found: "Laughter ... [reveals] gangrene beneath the beautiful surface but also diminishes it; one cannot control what one laughs at." 

Scout's observations about her neighbors and behavior inspire the director of the National Endowment for the Arts, David Kipen, to call her "hilarious." [35] However, to express more serious themes, Tavernier-Courbin notes that Lee uses parody, satire, and irony effectively by using children’s perspective. After Dill promises to marry her and then spends a lot of time with Jem, Scout concludes that the best way to get her attention is to beat him up, which he has done on a couple of occasions.

Scout’s first day at school is a satirical treatment of education; her teacher says that she must correct the damage done by Atticus by teaching her to read and write, and forbids him to teach her anything more. 

Lee sets up the most ridiculous situations ironically, as Jem and Scout try to understand how Maycomb can embrace racism while still trying to remain a decent society. Tavernier-Courbin even suggests that the interpretation of the novel's title is in fact a mockery of education, the legal system of one's own society by making them objects of humorous disagreement.  

Critics have also noted the fun methods that drive the action. When Atticus is out of town, Jem locks up his Sunday school peer in the basement of the church during the game. This led their black maid, Calpurnia, to take Scout and Jem to her church, giving the children an insight into her life, but also into the life of Tom Robinson.  

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