S: Literary Analysis by Sam Lee
FC: Literary Analysis of To Kill a Mockingbird | Sam Lee English II G2
1: Table of Contents | Setting.................................................................................2-3 How It Relates.....................................................................4-7 Point of View.....................................................................8-11 Conflicts...........................................................................12-13 Characterization...............................................................14-19 Symbolism......................................................................20-21 Theme.............................................................................22-24 Self Reflection......................................................................25
2: Maycomb County | The story is set in Maycomb, Alabama in the early 1930s. "Maycomb was an old town, 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, the courthouse sagged in the square." (Lee 6) | Maycomb is a small town where everyone knows everyone. "He liked Maycomb, he was Maycomb County born and bred; he knew his people, they knew him, and because of Simon Finch's industry, Atticus was related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town." (Lee 6)
3: A majority of the white southerners that live in this town are racist towards African Americans. "Mrs. Dubose would hound Jem for a while on her favorite subjects, her camellias and our father's nigger-loving propensities..." (Lee 144) | The setting for To Kill a Mockingbird is the backbone of the story. The small community allows the characters' actions and opinions to strongly affect one another. In a place where everyone knows everyone, the town has an old, worn down feel where racism is everywhere, the people are quick to judgments, and have reputations that last generations.
4: Several white teenagers wrongfully accused nine black boys of attacking them and raping two girls creating the now famous story of the Scottsboro Boys. | These boys had poor legal representation and all white juries in a southern town during the early 1930s when racism wasn't uncommon.
5: How it relates... | White girl(s) accusing African American(s) of rape is involved in both Tom Robinson's and the Scottsboro Boys' trials. | Neither trail had any real evidence to support these claims but both the accused were found guilty and sentenced to death.
6: Emmitt Till, a fourteen year old boy, was kidnapped, beaten, shot, and dumped into a river for flirting with one of the murderer's wife.
7: How it relates... | Emmitt Till and Tom Robinson both lived in a time where racism was all around them. Both of their lives were taken due to discrimination. | Neither of the victims were alive to see the day they were proven innocent. The white men in both incidents who caused the deaths of Tom Robinson and Emmitt Till were discovered to being guilty but not punished.
8: Point Of View | To Kill a Mockingbird is written in first person point of view from main character Jean Finch or Scout. "I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that" (Lee 3). The narrator uses key words like "I" and "my" to show first person point of view. | Scout starts the story as a young, innocent child. She likes reading and isn't the average young lady. She'd much rather wear pants and play with her brother outside than wear dresses and play with dolls.
9: In the beginning of the story Scout is naive and innocent, setting a childlike mood. However, as she grows up the story takes a more serious and mature turn. If the story had been written from someone else's point of view, like Atticus's, the reader wouldn't be able to see this change.
10: I knew I'd have to go get my pants back. There wasn't no other option. Scout pleaded at me to stay but she is just a girl, after all. I took the back way, through Deer's Pasture, across the schoolyard and around the fence. I crept along, silently, waitin' to see a shadow or hear a gunshot. Then, there before me, were my pants. Somethin' wasn't right, though. When I wiggled free of them, I had left them tangled up and with a hole. Now, they were folded all nice'n neat. I plucked them off the fence and ran, not takin' any care to the sounds I made. Once I got a safe distance and my body quit shakin' as much, I inspected the pants real close. The hole I had left had been stiched up. Not clean like Calpurnia's neat hand, though, more like a boy's clumsy stitching.
11: Jem Finch
12: Conflicts | Tom Robinson is put on trail against a racist and unreasonable community. | Tom vs. Maycomb Man vs. Society | External conflict | Tom Robinson was a helpful and kindhearted man. After the unfair trial, he is pronounced guilty and sentenced to death. | Atticus is asked to defend Tom Robinson in a trial he knows he can't win and will force his children and himself to face criticisms from the town. | Internal Conflict
13: Atticus vs. Atticus Man vs. Self | Atticus struggles with knowing he'll be putting himself and kids through harshness from the community but defends Tom Robinson anyway because it is the right thing to do. | Scout becomes upset when her teacher, Miss Caroline, doesn't think she should be reading or writing. | Scout vs. Miss Caroline Man vs. Man | External Conflict | At first, Scout feels guilty and apologizes for knowing how to read and write. Atticus later helps her understand Miss Caroline's point of view and Scout feels better about reading.
14: In the beginning of the story Scout is a young, proud, tomboy. Atticus gives her a lecture about trying to be more understanding and reasonable towards others, especially her teacher, but it didn't really sink in until the end. "Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough" (Lee 374). Throughout the story, Scout has changed to become more understanding and accepting. | Scout
15: D Y N A M I C | Characterization | Boo Radley | The children of Maycomb treated Boo Radley as a character in a ghost story. He was mysterious and spooky and only the most brave or stupid children would go anywhere near the Radley house. The reader discovers, however, that Boo is more than just a character in their games. "'Thank you for my children, Arthur,' he said" (Lee 370). After saving the children's lives, Atticus and the others refer to Boo as Arthur, allowing the reader to view him as an actual human being. In the beginning of the story, Boo was a mysterious ghoul that ate squirrels. By the end, he was Arthur Radley, a damaged man that saved Jem and Scout's lives.
16: Characterization | S T A T I C | Dill | Charles Baker Harris or "Dill" is a young boy who visits Maycomb every summer and becomes close friends to Jem and Scout. He's adventurous and lets his curiosity get the better of him. Throughout the story, Dill is just a naive child. From creating the "Boo Radley game" in the beginning to crying when Tom Robinson is declared guilty in the end, Dill remains innocent and immature.
17: Atticus Finch, Jem and Scout's only parent, is old but wise. He maintains the utmost respect for everyone throughout the story. He teaches his children, especially Scout, not to judge someone without imagining life through their skin. Atticus sees the good in people and stays true to his beliefs in the beginning of the story when he urges Scout not to be mad at her teacher for insulting him. Even after the trial, Atticus accepts Bob Ewell as a man of ignorance and remains polite and courteous towards him. | Atticus Finch
18: Characterization | F L A T | Miss Caroline is Scout's first grade teacher. Miss Caroline is young, foreign, and doesn't know the ways of Maycomb. She is an important character, as she prompts Scout's first lesson in learning to view life through other people's skin, but the reader does not learn much about her. | Miss Caroline | Heck Tate | Heck Tate is the sheriff in Maycomb, and a respectable figure. He remains fair and just throughout the Tom Robinson trial and the incident when Bob Ewell attacked the children.
19: R O U N D | Calpurnia | Calpurnia is the maid and caretaker of children in the Finch household. When with the other black members of the community, Cal surprises Scout and Jem by speaking and acting differently. She explains she only does this to keep peace between both the white and black communities she lives in. | Jeremy Finch, or Jem, is Scout's brother and companion. Scout doesn't always understand the finer points of Jem's growth to becoming a teenager but the reader can infer his maturity level increases after the trial. Jem becomes more concerned with fairness and the ways of life. | Jem Finch
20: Symbolism | The significance of the title of To Kill A Mockingbird is to explain the acts of harming the innocent. The story supports this as innocent people are harmed. The main motif, the mockingbird, symbolizes innocence. Just as it's a sin to kill a mockingbird because they only do good by singing their hearts out; it's a wrong to harm innocent people when all they've done is give.
21: One of the main examples of mockingbirds in this story is Boo Radley. "...they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us" (Lee 119). Boo Radley repeatedly did generous things like leave gifts for the kids, cover Scout with a blanket, and save Jem from Bob Ewell. It would have been wrong to harm him because he was as innocent as a mockingbird. | Tom Robinson could be considered a mockingbird. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy" (Lee 119). The only thing Tom was guilty of was helping Mayella. | It's a sing to kill a mockingbird because they are innocent of any evils. Scout is an example of a mockingbird because she is just as innocent and naive.
22: Do what you feel is right, no matter public opinion. | "'They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled full respect for their opinions', said Atticus, 'but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience'" (Lee 139-140). | Even though the town and his family disagrees, Atticus does what he thinks is right and defends a black man. He knew he'd never forgive himself if he didn't. | Connection: It takes a lot of courage to stand up for someone in a town where everyone has formed their own opinions. For example, standing up for a kid getting bullied by someone more popular.
23: Themes | Don't judge people based on rumor. | "Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough" (Lee 374). | People used rumors to form judgements on people they never got to know. Once Scout could see things from Boo's perspective, she realized he wasn't a bad person. | Connection: In How to Train Your Dragon everyone thinks the dragons are bad. Only when someone explores for themselves do they realize dragons were just misunderstood.
24: Theme | Don't harm the innocent. | "...it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" (Lee 119). | Those who have harmed the innocent received their karma. Bob Ewell wouldn't have died if he never would've accused the innocent Tom Robinson. | Connection: There is an example of this theme in the Hunger Games. Katniss, an innocent mockingbird like Tom Robinson, is attacked by the Capitol, the Bob Ewell of the story. Spoiler: the Capitol "slips on their own knife," too.
25: I wasn't a fan of To Kill A Mockingbird. The beginning was slow, the Southern style setting bores me, and honestly, I viewed it as an English assignment instead of a book to enjoy. The majority of the time I spent reading it was with the questions from the literary analysis packet in my mind. It's kind of hard to enjoy a story when I'm stopped with thoughts like "Oh, this will be a good quote to use when I get to characterization." I love reading because it's a stress reliever. This project was the opposite. I think it was well written and I appreciate the valuable lessons but sadly, this is not the book for me. | Self Reflection