S: To Kill a Mockingbird Literary Analysis
FC: To Kill a Mockingbird Literary Analysis
1: Table of Contents | 2-3. Setting 4-5. Historical Context 6-9. Point of View 10-11. Conflicts 12-13. Characterization 16-17. Themes 18-19. Personal Reflection
2: "Being Southerners, it was a source of shame to some members of the family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle of Hastings (Lee)." --The story takes place in the South which explains a lot of the racism in the story. "Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it (Lee 5)." --Maycomb was a small town and nothing really exciting happened except when the Tom Robinson trial happens. | "Not exactly. The Cunningham's are country folks, farmers, and the crash hit them hardest (Lee 21)." --The "crash" is referring to the stock market crash and the Great Depression of the 1930's. Segregation was still going on at this time before any civil rights movements. | Setting
3: It is important to understand that the story takes place in the 1930's south because it helps explain the racism and segregation happening in the book. If the book took place in a different time period, a lot of the conflicts in the story, including some that don't deal with racism and segregation, wouldn't be such a big deal.
4: In the trial of the Scottsboro boys, 9 black boys were accused of gang raping two prostitutes. They were on trial for 6 years and many times were tried very unfairly. Emmett Till was a 14 year old black boy who inappropriately called to a white woman "Thanks, baby," and was later drug from his house in the middle in the night, beaten, and hung from a tree. The white men who did this were not charged for murder.
5: 1. The Scottsboro boys were accused of raping two white women. 2. The Scottsboro boys were tried unfairly many times and sent to jail. 3. Emmitt Till was killed by a mob of white men in the middle of the night. 4. Prostitutes lied about the Scottsboro boys raping them. | 1. Tom Robinson was accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. 2. Tom Robinson was tried unfairly and sent to jail. 3. Mr. Cunninghams' mob tried to kill Tom Robinson at the Maycomb jail in the middle of the night. 4. Mayella Ewell lied about Tom Robinson raping her. | Historical Context
6: First Person | "Catching Walter Cunningham in the schoolyard gave me some pleasure, but when I was rubbing his nose in the dirt, Jem came by and told me to stop (Lee 22)." | Scout is an 8 year old girl who is very naive and unaware of the evils in the world. She speaks what is on her mind and has no filter and doesn't fully understand what goes on around her.
7: Point of View | I believe Harper Lee chose to tell this story from the perspective of a young girl (Scout), as opposed to Jem's or Atticus's to help the reader see the world from a different point of view. I believe she wanted the reader to look at the world through the innocent eyes of a child who doesn't quite understand all the racism and prejudices around her. This point of view gives the reader more room to infer and makes the story seem more dramatic.
8: Even though I have left Maycomb and live in a retirement community in Arizona now and my memory is not what it used to be, sometimes I let my mind wander and I always find myself thinking about that Halloween night that Jem and Scout were jumped by Bob Ewell. I will say that it had probably been the scariest night of my life. I had Jem take Scout to the schoolhouse that night because Scout was to play the ham in Mrs. Merriweather’s pageant, “Maycomb County: Ad Astra Per Aspera”, I think is what she called it. I couldn't manage to attend, I was just too exhausted. After all, I had been spending all my time doing my best to defend Tom Robinson. Jem and Scout were on their way back from the schoolhouse and were just under that old oak tree behind the Radley place when Bob Ewell came at them with a knife. Of course, they didn't have a clue who it was when it happened since it was black as ink that night. Scout had told Mr. Heck Tate all that she could remember, though she couldn't be too sure of exactly what happened since | Atticus's Point of View
9: she had still been in that ham costume. She said they thought they were being followed all the way home, but they figured it was just Cecil Jacobs trying to play a trick on them again. When they got under the old oak tree, Bob came running at them and attacked Jem first, tackling him to the ground. The wrestled around for a few minutes, I guess, and in the process somehow Scout's ham costume was crushed around her. A few minutes into it, there was a loud crack and a groan. Scout eventually shoved herself off the ground and saw a man, under the streetlight, carrying Jem over his shoulder over to our house. Mr. Arthur Radley, Boo, as the kids always referred to him, came through the front door with Jem unconscious and slung over his shoulder, and his arm bent at an odd angle at his elbow. Shortly after Scout walked in herself, unharmed. She told Sheriff Tate everything that she could remember and we finally came to the conclusion that Mr. Bob Ewell had went after them to get back at me and in the process “fell” on his knife and killed himself. But that's long done and over with now and Jem's arm healed perfectly fine. He is now a lawyer and I am tremendously proud of him and Scout is waiting tables at the diner. I myself am in Arizona enjoying my retirement where I can look back on all the memories made during that summer when I defended Tom Robinson.
10: Conflicts | 1. Mayella Ewell accuses Tom Robinson of raping her 2. Bob Ewell attacks Jem and Scout Finch 3. Black citizens of Maycomb are not treated as fairly as white citizens even after the trial | 1. Man vs Man (external) 2. Man vs Man (external) 3. Man vs Society (external)
11: Character Involved Tom Robinson Jem and Scout Finch Black citizens of Maycomb | Before Tom doesn't bother anyone and minds his own business They are very naive, carefree, and innocent They are treated unfairly | After Put on trial for rape and is eventually shot and killed They become very aware of the evil in the world around them They are treated the same as before even after Tom's trial
12: Characterization | Dynamic Characters Scout: Tom-boyish little girl, innocent, naive In the beginning, Scout's only concern is getting Boo Radley to come out, but in the end she learns of the prejudices and racism in the world and what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes. Jem: Young, carefree boy who likes getting into trouble Jem enjoys getting into trouble and trying to get Boo to come out but he also goes through problems of growing up and learning about the world around him. | Static Characters Bob Ewell: "white trash", sarcastic, liar Bob is the same kind of person throughout the entire story and in the end, it gets him killed. Atticus: kind, caring, compassionate, understanding man Even after everything he's been through with the Tom Robinson case, Atticus's opinion of people does not change and he manages to stay the same person throughout the entire story.
14: Symbols | Boo Radley is considered a mockingbird because he does not harm anyone or anything and does not disturb anyone. He saves Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell, so he is doing Atticus a service like the mockingbird does when it sings. | Tom Robinson is considered a mockingbird because he is an innocent man in the rape trial, just as the mockingbird represents innocence. He helps Mayella Ewell when she needs it and does not cause trouble. He is peaceful. | Scout is considered a mockingbird because she is a small child during the time of Tom Robinson's trial. Her being so young during this time allows her to tell the story through the innocent eyes of a child.
15: The Mockingbird symbolizes innocence. The mockingbird does not harm anyone or anything and is not a pest. All it does is sing for people. It is a symbol of peace.
16: Forgive and Forget "Mr. Cunningham's basically a good man," he said, "he just has his blind spots along with the rest of us (Lee 157)." Mr. Cunningham was a part of a mob that could've killed Atticus, but he doesn't hold anything against him because he is still a good person. This theme can be applied to the real world in everyday life because everyone makes mistakes and we cannot treat them as any less of a person because of that. | People Are Not Always Treated Fairly "Well, Dill, after all he's just a Negro (Lee 199)." Black people are thought to be lesser than whites and are treated far differently than whites because of their skin color. This theme can be applied to the real world because racism and prejudices are still among us today. It can also be applied to other works of literature, such as "Night" by Elie Wiesel where Jews are persecuted and treated horribly by the Nazis just because they are Jews.
17: Themes | You Don't Really Know a Person Until You Walk a Mile in Their Shoes "Dill, you watch out, now," I warned. Dill released the straws and grinned, "Scout, it's nothing but Coca-Cola (Lee 200)." Dolphus Raymond has a reputation of being a rich drunk who lives with a black woman and has mixed children. Nobody knows he's not really a drunk, until he lets Dill have some of his coke. This theme can be applied to everyday life because people are always making judgments about other without actually knowing them.
18: To Kill a Mockingbird was a very interesting story about the racism and prejudice present in the world and the existence of good and evil all seen through the innocent eyes of a small 8 year old girl named, Scout. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, especially when it came to the parts during and after the trial. This book really surprised because I didn't expect it to be as good as it actually turned out to be. I think my favorite part of this book was when Scout met Boo Radley after Bob Ewell attacked her and Jem. My least favorite part of the book would probably be when the jury declared Tom Robinson guilty. The best kind of book is the kind where you really get a chance to get to know the characters and feel what they feel and understand their actions throughout the story. That is how I felt with this book. When Tom Robinson was pronounced guilty, I felt genuinely sorry for him and I felt | Personal Reflection
19: the defeat that Atticus must have felt also. I understood Jem's anger at the prejudice and racism of the situation and Scout's excitement at meeting Boo Radley. I also learned many lessons from this book, but the main one would have to be that “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.” I completely agree with this statement. I believe that too many times, people are so quick to judge one another by their actions, or their words, or even their physical appearance without even knowing anything about them. More often than not, that judgment is wrong. I was able to take away a lot from To Kill a Mockingbird and learned a few lessons from it as well. I really enjoyed reading this book.