To Kill a Mockingbird

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To Kill a Mockingbird is a 1960 novel by Harper Lee, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. It was made into an Academy Award-winning motion picture starring Gregory Peck by director Robert Mulligan in 1962. A coming-of-age story, it is told from the point of view of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, the young daughter of Atticus Finch, an educated lawyer in Maycomb, Alabama, a small town in the deep South of the United States. The protagonist and her brother Jem watch as her father defends a black man, Tom Robinson, wrongly accused of raping a white girl in a racist community in the 1930's.

Truman Capote was a lifelong friend of childhood neighbor Lee, and allegedly was the inspiration for the character of Dill in her best-seller. Capote frequently implied that he himself had written a considerable portion of her novel, and some have said he ghosted the entire novel. At least one person—Pearl Kazin Bell, an editor at Harper's— has gone on record as believing his assertions were true.

The story explores prejudice in its various forms, as well as childhood and maturity. Since the story is told from the point of view of a child (Scout), the author is able to present situations without adding an explicit opinion—the reader is left to make sense of events and come to his own conclusion. Nonetheless, it is clear that the author believes strongly that the prejudiced actions of the characters are wrong, even if they are believed by the majority and by those in power.

The title of the book is taken from Atticus's advice to his children about firing their air rifles at birds: "Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird". The blue jay is a very common bird, and is often perceived as a bully and a pest, whereas mockingbirds do nothing but "sing their hearts out for us". Metaphorically, several of the book's characters can be seen as "mockingbirds", attacked despite doing nothing but good. The mockingbird represents innocence, and to kill one is to metaphorically kill innocence. Note that several of the main protagonists are named after birds: Scout, Jem, Atticus Finch, and Tom Robinson.

Harper Lee stated " To get the ideas for the book I used recent events in my time like the Scottsboro Trials". (Harper Lee, Book Review, 1964)


Primary cast of the movie

Awards for the movie

Award nominations for the movie

It was deemed "culturally significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry in 1995.

Analysis of Important Characters

Missing image
Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch and Mary Badham as Scout Finch

Jem Finch is Scout's older brother. Jem undergoes crucial transformations in the work as he becomes a man. The trial of Tom Robinson is Jem's first real encounter with true evil, and the realization of its existence drives him into a sullen state. Prior to this, he had viewed the world innocently, thinking of people as being one-sided. He viewed Boo Radley, for example, as a frightening figure. Jem was able to overcome his sullenness due to the strong presence of Atticus in his life, and became a bigger person as he achieved a greater understanding of the world and how to view and treat other human beings.

Boo Radley symbolizes destroyed innocence. As a child he was abused by his father, and was driven to agoraphobia. A gentle creature, he is viewed with fear by the children, who do not come to a better understanding of him until the end of the work. He does several heroic things, including giving Scout a blanket during a neighborhood fire, and saving the kids from an assault by the father of the girl that accused Tom Robinson of rape. His misconceived good nature testifies to the message of the story, one of kindness and the notion that people should not make judgements on others, since human beings are not that simple.

Atticus Finch is one of the most important characters in the story. He represents morality and kindness. He defends Tom Robinson because he feels that not doing so would make him a hypocrite. Atticus serves as a guiding light for his children, always calm and patient, he allows them to come to the understanding that, although evil exists, one should not dwell on that but should instead realize that the existence of this evil is a sign that there is work to do, and progress to make. His strong presence in his children's lives prevents them from becoming symbols of destroyed innocence, such as Boo Radley and Tom Robinson.


  • The character of Boo Radley—a mysterious neighbor who lives quietly in his dark house and is feared by the local children—gave his name to the popular British band The Boo Radleys.
  • The movie Vanilla Sky shows a clip of the movie with Atticus and Scout as remembered by the lead character, David Aames. He visualizes Atticus as his own father, and contrives him as Psychiatrist Curtis McCabe.
  • The humor website AwesomeFunny made an extremely popular parody of To Kill a Mockingbird called How to Kill a Mockingbird. In the flash cartoon, the narrator is an elementary school student presenting a book report on the book, but it becomes obvious he hasn't read it when he deviates into fantasies about pirates, dinosaurs, robots, and ninja.

External links

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