FC: To Kill a Mockingbird Visual Literary Analysis | By: Neal Kisor
1: Table of Contents: Setting- 2 &5 POV- 6 & 12 Conflict- 13 & 14 Character- 15 & 17 Symbols- 18 & 19 Theme- 20 - 23 Literacy Criticism- 24 - 27
2: Setting: Maycomb County- A small sleepy town that is located in Alabama. Years 1934-1935, hot and humid and in the midst of the Depression. "A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County" (Lee 10). "Maycomb was an old ton, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, he courthouse sagged in the square" (5).
3: The setting impacts characters because 1930's Alabama was subject to racism, poverty, and tensions between citizens and the North following the heels of reconstruction and the civil war. This ties into many characters personalities. | The Scottsboro Boys & Emmett Till: Back in 1931 in Alabama nine black boys were accused of rape by white teenagers, each was put on trial to an all-white jury and 8 out of 9 were sentenced to death. Only after Supreme Court rule were 4 of the 9 able to walk free. In another case, Emmett Till, a young 14 year old black boy, was murdered for whistling at a white woman, Till was beaten and had one eye gouged out before he was shot and thrown in a river. Both of these events are similar to the one's in To Kill a Mockingbird because they feature black men getting prosecuted and even killed in the South for troubles with white women, even if the boys were innocent.
4: Real World to TKaM: Real: 1) Emmett Till was killed for whistling at a white woman 2) Scottsboro boys were prosecuted for rape 3) In the 1930's Hitler rose to power in Germany 4)The Civil Rights movement occurs in the 1960's TKaM: 1) Tom Robinson was prosecuted for allegedly raping Mayella Ewell 2)Tom Robinson is shot in prison and his family is threatened 3) Hitler begins locking away Jews and killing the mentally handicapped 4)Atticus senses a looming of a black uprising of sorts.
6: POV To Kill a Mockingbird is written in 1st person point of view from Scout's perspective. | "We moved our chairs forward. This was the nearest I had ever been to her, and the thing I wanted most to do was move my chair back again"(106).
7: Scout Finch is the main narrator, she is a young girl growing up in the post-reconstruction racist world that is the South. She is a tomboy and not traditional in terms of how girls are thought to act. | On the next page you'll find a short story written in Scout's father Atticus' point of view during the trial scene where he is pleading with the jury.
8: The Children in the Balcony A Story from Atticus Finch’s Point of View I stood there, staring at the jury with my bespectacled eyes. Their faces were shining in the light of various lamps and the dull glow of the sun that was just about to make its journey below the horizon to light parts of the world far away that I would most likely never get to see. I spoke in a dream, a man’s whole life, and his family’s life too; it was all in my hands, mind, and mouth. My lips hit together and my tongue contorted to make up the complex slurs and dialects that concern the English language and southern speak. The all-white jury leaned in to hear as I softened and accented to my speech, I could tell they were interested in what I had to say. I added parts that they could connect to, how Jefferson said all men were created equal, how no matter who you are you deserve an opportunity. I felt my mind create the words and I was subject to the stream of passionate thoughts and ideas that fell like a waterfall over the jury and crowd. In my mind, there was no question to this trial.
9: My client, Tom Robinson, approached me, a simple defense attorney for the great state of Alabama to help him. The story goes that Tom had tried to rape poor defenseless Mayella Ewell, a girl from a family of trash, respectively. I had no doubt in my mind about the legitimacy in Tom’s speech and being as he told me what really happened to lead to all of this trouble; as it goes, Tom got jumped on by Mayella after he had become her friend by doing jobs out of the kindness of his heart. But unfortunately for her, her grand love gesture wasn't meant to be as interracial love was among the most taboo subjects in my southern town. Tom ran from the house after he was jumped on by Mayella and had a stroke of bad luck to say the least, Mayella’s dad, Bob, had entered in the house and began beating the poor lovesick girl for her acts. Bob formulated the plan to blame Tom for the whole incident by accusing him of rape. I had encountered Bob and Mayella during my cross-examination of their stories, I believe I convinced every sane man and woman that the two were spurting out lies faster than the recorder, Bart, could type. But sadly, my small town wouldn't free a Negro if he had been convicted, and I, along with everyone else in town could guess poor Tom Robinson’s fate.
10: These things were going through my mind as I pleaded silently with the jury. A small thought buzzed in my head like a summer's mosquito. Maybe, just maybe, I could convince them otherwise; just maybe, I could be the first to save one of Tom’s kind. I feared greatly for when the black population became aware of the segregation they were forced to endure. When they did, I feared, it would change the course of America I just hoped it wasn't in my children's time. My children were my ultimate source of inspiration and joy. My son, Jeremy or Jem as he liked to be called, was a fierce boy, loyal and strong in his beliefs in the world and a boy that could inspire and lead, many say he reminded them of me, but I couldn't see it. Then there was my daughter, Jean Louise or Scout as she enjoyed being called, she took after her brother so much, she was a tomboy and the bane of my neighbors existence in her wild acts and from her attitude that could be compared to that of a mother bear whose children were in danger; but oh God how she reminded me of my deceased wife but I couldn’t think about these things right now. I kept up my assault on the jury and with a final breath and elongated carefully planned sentence, ended my speech.
11: “In the name of God, do your duty,” I finished and dropped by voice and turned away. The silence in the courtroom eased me and also unnerved me. In the distance I could hear the court doors open. I looked down and at Tom and whispered. “In the name of God, believe him” I gasped a shaking breath to myself and turned towards the footsteps going up the aisle. My gasp was louder this time as it was my beloved maid Calpurnia at the railing. She asked Judge Taylor if she could pass a note to me, the Judge agreed and I opened it, dreading what was inside. “Atticus: It’s simply awful, your children have been gone since morning, I’ve called around town and I’ve asked all of the neighbors but they’re nowhere to be found. I can only hope they’re with you. For our sake, Alexandra” My heart sank and I feared the worse. “Judge, I—this note is from my sister. She says my children have been missing since noon I could you—“ “I know where they are, Atticus.” I turned to see the racist reporter Mr. Underwood speak and point. “They’re right up there on the colored balcony—been there since 1:18 pm”
12: I turned my head to the balcony and saw my children along with their best friend Dill watching me with eyes that reminded me of deer yearlings. I tried to be disappointed, to be angry with them for leaving. But I couldn’t, my own kids where here to support me and they heard all of those things oh no no, I mustn’t worry about that, they would learn one day. My body was filled with the fatherly pride that you only can achieve from being the outsider looking into your child’s life. I watched as only one second rolled by like millions billions. They were next to colored folk, and they looked happy, perhaps I shouldn’t worry after all. My children where wonderful as was life, and they could not have a prouder father.
13: Conflicts | Conflict that Occurred: Tom Robinson's Accusation. | Type of Conflict: Man vs. Society--External | Scout's pressure to become proper lady. | Man vs. Idea--Internal | Ewell's threat to kill the Finches | Man vs Man--External
14: How these Conflicts affected and changed characters: | Before | After | Tom Robinson- Scared but confident in Atticus' abilities to save him Scout Finch- Defiant on all forms of lady-like southern life. Bob Ewell- Bitter and confident that he would win the trial. | Tom Robinson- Got killed in prison to the dismay of the Finch family, all because of the town's ridicule Scout Finch- Scout grows more accepting of being a lady after she learns that you can still have ideas and freedoms. Bob Ewell- Gets killed after he tries to kill the Finch kids for Atticus making a fool of his family.
15: Characterization | Scout Finch | A young southern girl that struggles to act like she's expected to in her society. | Scout slowly starts to accept people and become a nice little girl with a little wisdom. | Jem Finch | A young southern boy that holds strong to his beliefs and is witty and resourceful, brave too. Jem begins to grow wiser when he begins to grow up, he wants to impress Atticus by seeming mature. | Calpurnia | Calpurnia is the Finch's maid, an African American, and educated. Calpurnia changes by starting off the story by being quite bitter to Scout, but as time passes her love and trust in Scout increases substantial.
16: Static Characters | Atticus Finch | Atticus stays as an almost "perfect super-man" like character throughout the book. His morales, values, and ideas are always righteous and true. | Bob Ewell | Bob stays as the drunk, no-good, dumpster inhabiting "bad guy" throughout the book. His constant quest of racism and lies never dwindling.
18: Symbols | "To Kill a Mockingbird" as a title is a slight foreshadow, as characters can be described as "mockingbirds". The book describes mockingbirds as beautiful creatures that cause no harm. "Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."(90). Ms. Maudie then goes to tell Scout that Mockingbirds are innocent beautiful creatures that don't do anything but sing for humans, killing one is evil. The mockingbird symbolizes the innocence that is present in characters like Scout, Boo Radley, and Tom Robinson. The "singing" that mockingbirds do could symbolize the joy Scout brings, the gifts Boo left, or how Tom helped out the Ewells for no money.
19: Boo Radley | Boo can be considered a "mockingbird" because he leaves the kids gifts, covers them in a blanket when it's cold, and sews Jem's pants | Tom Robinson | Tom can be considered a "mockingbird" because he does chores for the Ewells out of the kindness of his heart. His prosecution and death was sinful. | Scout Finch | Scout can be a "mockingbird" because her innocence and childlike wonder inspires others to question there evils, like the song of a mockingbird
20: Themes | [Theme 1: Good Vs. Evil] I believe that the theme of Good Vs. Evil is one of the most important themes you can find in "To Kill a Mockingbird". “...Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy . . . but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird" (90).
21: As stated in Symbols, the whole idea of the "Mockingbird" is the innocence and goodwill of people. Characters that are often described as these "mockingbirds" get hurt and assaulted in someways from the evil characters like Bob Ewell, or they are the blunt of jokes from the teasing children or judging adults. The good (mockingbirds) vs the evil (society) is a theme that rolls along in the book. You can still find this theme everyday in real life when it comes to topics like, war, segregation, sexism, political propaganda, and social events.
22: [Theme 2: Understanding Each Other] A long line of accusations, blames, and overall segregation occurs at many points in "To Kill a Mockingbird", the book encourages readers and Scout to think like the opposing party. "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it" (30). Atticus says this to Scout when concerning the Cunningham and Ewell children, this quote sticks with Scout and it helps her when she thinks of others in Maycomb. The quote can be applied to many characters, Bob Ewell, Tom Robinson, and especially Boo Radley. We can see examples of this quote each day in real life, in almost every literary work, is is crucial and essential to understand characters and their objectives and motives.
23: [Theme 3: Parental Teachings] Atticus Finch is without a doubt the shining example of what good citizenship looks like, he tries hard to teach his kids how to be citizens and cares for them in a supportive, comfortable, and loving way. “When they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things . . . Atticus, he was real nice. . . .” His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning" (281). Atticus teaches his kids the importance of acceptance to everyone throughout the book, alongside this you can also witness how he is a father who's kids mean the world to him, a perfect fatherly role model. Atticus also talks about how you should always see a perspective from two views, a lesson the world continually tries to teach. You can see the values and methods of Atticus Finch affecting fathers even today, many parents try to mimic the teachings of Atticus to their children.
24: Literary Criticism | Feminist School of Literary Criticism: The feminist school of literary criticism is a literary point-of-view that identifies how a literary work displays equality and displays rights, independence, and respect for women. An example from the book would be to examine the scene in Chapter 24 where the ladies of Maycomb gather to do lady-like activities and check to make sure there's equality shown between the men and women. For example, you can see that Atticus acts much differently in the scene around the women, trying purposefully to be respectful and act like a gentleman.
25: New Historicism School of Literary Criticism: New Historicism is a criticism focused on finding and telling both ends of a story, finding hidden meanings, and determining a philosophy in a story. New Historicism also finds out how a story impacts a history of a civilization or culture. For example, the philosophy of To Kill a Mockingbird largely focuses around the fair treatment of everyone you meet. A person examining the story from this point of view may try to determine what Bob Ewell was thinking on the night of his death, or what really happened at the Ewell house. To Kill a Mockingbird impacted society by showing human's the tyranny of what racism did to people and families, this largely helped the Civil Rights Movement.
26: Psychoanalytical School of Literary Criticism: The psychoanalytical school of literary criticism is criticism focused on characters subconscious and author's subconscious and an author's deeper meanings within a book. The school also looks into what drives a character, the id, the ego, or the super-ego. When examining the book through the eyes of a psychoanalytical you would see that based on actions throughout the book a character like Jem has deep respect for his father, but his father's popularity leaves him with expectations he might not be willing to take on; therefore, early on in the book Jem could be described as an id character, the climax of this behavior happening when he breaks Ms. Layfette's flowers. Afterwards, Jem grows up and matures and soon becomes like his father, blossoming into and ego character. While Harper Lee wrote the book about a small girl's coming of age, many can tell that she also wrote the book to expose southern racism for what it really was and to give the spotlight to problems happening at the time.