The original book, of course, was published in 1960. It has sold over five million copies in many countries.

Written by Harper Lee, it chronicles the tale of Scout Finch over several years of her childhood. Providing the backdrop and much of the material for the novel is Scout's father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer, and a major trial in which he defends a black man; at the time, a social taboo.

This book is indispensible reading for anyone even considering college English. It's on almost every recommended reading list that can be found. Unfortunately, controversy over the use of the term 'nigger' has marred the book's name, although not as badly as in the case of Huck Finn.

To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is written in the form of a flashback. In the novel, the reader is presented in the beginning with an image of Scout Finch at 6, and in the end, Scout Finch at 9. The turbulent events of the book, as well as Scout’s own, less chaotic relationships with others, put forth an older, more mature Scout by the end of the novel.

One significant change that we see in Scout is her willingness to consider the feelings of others, even those that she doesn’t like. Aunt Alexandra, when she is introduced, is related to Mount Everest; she is “cold and there” (Lee 77). As time goes on, she becomes more and more of an opponent to Scout. Aunt Alexandra criticizes Scout on many aspects of her character. She complains consistently about Scout wearing overalls and not dresses, on her playing outside with the boys, and on her lack of interest in being lady-like. Throughout the early part of the book, Scout is completely unresponsive to Aunt Alexandra, and is often reprimanded for the way she treats Alexandra or for not doing what Alexandra wants her to do. However, when Scout and Alexandra learn that Tom Robinson has died, and Alexandra takes the news especially hard, Scout acts in a way more acceptable to Alexandra. Instead of complaining about the attitude of her social gathering, as she did earlier in the chapter, Scout “looked at a tray of cookies on the table… [She] carefully picked up the tray and… with [her] best company manners, [she] asked [Mrs. Merriweather] if she would have some” (Lee 237). This is the exact behavior that Scout rejects completely in the beginning of the book and earlier in her relationship with Aunt Alexandra, but in this scene, the reader can see that despite their differences, Scout can empathize with and attempt to comfort Aunt Alexandra.

Another way that Scout matures is through the way she perceives those around her. In the beginning, she describes Atticus as “detached” (Lee 6) and Calpurnia as cruel and irrational. However, as time goes on, the reader can infer from the actions of Atticus and Calpurnia that they are anything but detached, cruel, or irrational. Scout begins to comprehend and understand those around her more when she begins to think about Calpurnia’s life. Scout tells the reader in the beginning about Calpurnia’s physical appearance, her methods of discipline, and how she treats Scout, but Scout doesn’t really begin to think of Calpurnia in terms of being her own person until much later, when Scout comes to the realization that Calpurnia “was of mature years… but then I had never thought about it” (Lee 125). Thus, as time goes on, Scout begins to understand and empathize with the people around her as real people, rather than one-dimensional characters in her life.

The poignant scene between Scout and Boo Radley at the end of the novel serves to sharply contrast with the earlier chapters. Scout believes in the beginning of the book that Boo “dined on raw squirrels and… cats, there was a long jagged scar that ran across his face; what teeth he had were yellow and rotten; his eyes popped, and he drooled most of the time” (Lee 13). Many of the early chapter’s adventures are concerned with seeing Boo Radley, and the children view him as a monster. For example, when Scout finds out that the person who draped a blanket over her shoulders was Boo Radley, her “stomach turned to water and [she] nearly threw up” (Lee 72). However, by the end of the novel, Scout has matured greatly, and learned to accept and understand Boo Radley. Whereas she once envisioned Boo’s bloodstained hands, in the final chapter she takes Boo’s hand voluntary, describing it as “surprisingly warm for its whiteness” (Lee 277). Finally, in the scene in which Scout describes the view from the Radley Porch, the reader can draw an even broader idea about Scout. She describes all of the houses she can see from the porch, and that in daylight she “could see to the post office corner” (Lee 279). Never before had Scout truly understood or seen the world from the viewpoint of Boo Radley, but upon doing so, i.e. seeing the neighborhood from his porch, she gained not only a more intimate respect and knowledge of his life, but also her everyday surroundings.

To Kill a Mockingbird is about racism and injustice in the south, yes, but it also tells a more personal story: a young girl growing up in such times. Scout Finch matures in many ways over the course of the book, but one main theme is evident in every lesson she learns: “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” (Lee 30).

A Node Your Homework venture.

The theme of this film is based on the structure of social injustice and also contains elements of a coming of age picture. The setting of a small 1930’s Alabama town is ideal for a revelation of searing racial tensions. Yet the choice of a little girl as a viewpoint breaks down the motif to such a size that no one escapes the principle. The true colors of the town bleed through when Tom Robinson, a poor Negro, is charged with assaulting and raping a local white girl. The fact that a black man could be tried and convicted of such a serious crime with absolutely no evidence illustrates a serious problem not only in the court, but in the hearts of the people. Aside from Atticus, the children seem to be the only white people that hold no discrimination against race, yet they are guilty of their own form of narrow-mindedness. Scout and Jem hate and fear a person whom they have never seen. All they know of their neighbor Arthur “Boo” Radley are skeptical and slightly unrealistic rumors, yet they are satisfied to remain blinded by their fear and ignorance. This basic and childish behavior is used to draw a parallel to the way the town treats Tom Robinson and, vicariously, the rest of the black community. However all hope is not lost in the end. As Scout realizes that Boo is no one to dread and the two become friends, so too do we realize that the town can likewise learn to shed its bigotry and embrace its subject of unfounded malice.

“It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,” relates Atticus to his children at the dinner table. A mockingbird hurts no one; it merely sings beautifully and peacefully. “To kill a mockingbird,” then, is to convict an innocent or to prejudice one who does not deserve it. The most obvious mockingbird in this film is Tom Robinson for his unfair conviction. However, Boo Radley is also a mockingbird because of the way the children treated him. Yet the children themselves become a more obscure mockingbird in that they are stereotyped as silly children when in fact they have a substantial impact in the sequence of events. Finally, their father, Atticus, is also made a kind of mockingbird because of his children’s assumptions about him, as revealed in the shooting of the rabid dog. Scout and Jem would have never thought their four-eyed lawyer of a dad was the best shot in town. Although one mockingbird was made to die, many more were set free.

Over forty years ago when Harper Lee wrote 'To Kill A Mockingbird' it was seen as something very controversial to write, something that was almost frowned upon. it was deeply open about issues that simply were not discussed. This book talked about the racism and prejudice that was so openly used forty years ago. People would have been disgusted had it not been written in the eyes of Scout, a young, naive girl whose innocence makes the book its own.

Mockingbird shows so much about that time, Scout is so innocent and shows so little understanding to what is going on around her. She is completly unaware of anything and simply thinks that the way that people are treated in Maycomb is O.K. Some of the things she says could offend but we know that what she says is just the honest truth and honestly isn't that what we like?

The popularity of the book has come from the issues it deal with and its popular, heartwarming characters, many of which are still very appropiate to the very day. People find they can relate to the book and that Scout's innocence is very pleasuring, something people wish there was more of.

The book brings out Harper Lee's views on racism, education and family life. She clearly is disappointed by the way the world treats people and is run and by reading this book we got the feeling that we really want to change the world ourselves. After all, anything is possible. Although these issues are big things to deal with we do feel very relaxed reading them, this is because the book is narrated by a young girl. It is impossible to feel pressured with her views in any way.

About the case: "Well, you've heard it all, you may aswell hear the rest."

Maycomb is a typical southern state, everyone knows each other and their business too. Nobody can possibly get away with anything, there is too much gossip for that. Atticus, a lawyer, wants to bring his children to be well-rounded with none of the bias that surrounds them. He wants them to know everything and form their own opinoins without the prejudice of their neighbours. Atticus keeps no secrets and tell no lies, he doesn't see the point in them.

People want, or even need, a hero in a book and in Mockingbird this role is given to Atticuss Finch. he fights for his town and what he believes in and nothing will stand in the way of that. Even when people tell him to not defend Tom Robinson he still goes ahead because he thinks it is a worthy cause and in a way it is.

About Aunt Alexandra: "She won't let him alone about the case."

The main popularity of the book comes from Tom Robinson and his somewhat wasted potential. Accused of rape, what chance does he have against Mayella Ewell, a white woman? So much racism goes on in the courts. A black man against a white woman? No chance. And, as you read the book you realise that Tom is the Mockingbird of the book.


Near to the end of the book Tom gets shot and we see that Atticus's advice to his children is ultimately true. Atticus always vowed he would bring Tom to justice and he would have done had he been given the chance. In this world there is so much injustice to blatantly innocent people. So the book comes to close and we realise that Harper Lee is trying to teach us a lesson, to treat everyone fairly. We owe everyone a fair trial.

Then we see the reason why this book has become so popular, it touches people's hearts and lives. It's one of those books that whoever you are, whatever your background or interests you can learn something from the book. We've all been the lost young child who doesn't know enough about the world around us and wants to, we've all been scared of someone and we've all learnt that judging someone is wrong.

The book is popular because it is flexible to people's lives and views. It can move with the times because the issues that were alive then still are today in some respects. If a book is written in such a innocent way how can it be hated?

A book review

This novel, written by Harper Lee in the 1950s, is about prejudice. It is one of the most powerful books ever written on the subject, mostly because the story unfolds through the eyes of Jean Louise Finch ("Scout"), a 9-year-old girl, growing up in Alabama. Her father, Atticus Finch, believes in equality and education, but the impoverished, largely uneducated community around her mostly does not.

More accurately, the story is told in retrospect by a grown-up Jean Louise, as she recalls the years of her childhood. This allows Lee to insert restrospective explanations into the book and to use longer words and more difficult concepts than would be appropriate for a nine-year-old narrator.

Set in the deep southern United States in the depression years of the 1930s, where people still remember the Civil War, the main storyline covers the trial of a fine, church-going, honest black man—Tom Robinson—for the alleged rape of a 19-year-old white girl, Mayella Ewell. Mayella is the eldest daughter of Bob Ewell, a man who can only be described as the worst kind of white trash. In the deep south in those days, no trial jury would ever favour the word of a black man, no matter how upstanding and honest, over that of a white man, no matter how violent, corrupt and mean-spirited. Atticus is the town lawyer and is assigned the task of defending Robinson.

Beyond this simple storyline, however, Lee skillfully develops her characters, first describing how the innocent Scout perceives them, and then gradually filling in the details of the various characters’ lives, so that we, the prejudiced adult readers, slowly come to realise their position in society. She slips in tiny details that Scout sees as incidental, but that we, the grown up readers, recognise as defining the character's place in society. We discover that society chooses to shun some people and revere others, not because of their intrinsic character, but all too often for other, less attractive reasons.

Mayella, for example, is portrayed as a victim of wider circumstance. She is lonely, struggling to find beauty in an ugly world; the victim, we are shown, of harsh physical abuse from her father. We, along with the trial jury, are left to imagine what other abuse he might have inflicted upon her. Robinson, recognising her plight, shows her the only friendship she has ever known. She tries to seduce him, but things go horribly wrong and she ends up accusing him of rape. An accusation entirely without foundation.

Although skin colour plays a dominant role throughout the book, many other small details remind us that prejudice lies everywhere. A posh aunt comes to town and, in true Southern style, she instructs the tomboy Scout in the fine gradations of how one should treat members of the various strata of society. The book even touches on Adolf Hitler and his own massive prejudices, though I have to say this short passage somehow distracted me from the gripping main narrative.

So the book takes apart a whole society and reveals, through the eyes of an innocent 9-year-old, where we have got it wrong. As if this were not enough, Lee goes further, examining many of the minor players in the drama, pointing out where they have character flaws, and simultaneously highlighting areas of prejudice that they could overcome, if they so chose. Her primary argument is that prejudice is a matter of will; that we choose to be prejudiced. We might not choose our parents, or our places in society, but none of these factors excuses a person who refuses to use their own eyes to see the world for what it really is, as opposed to what we like to pretend it might be.

The storyline therefore follows Scout Finch through the events of her 9th year, as she slowly realises that the world is not all innocence and purity, and that some people are motivated by forces other than goodness, kindness and honesty. Her father, Atticus Finch is the defence lawyer. He and his children are abused by some of the uneduated townsfolk, but his courage is admired by the few educated liberals in town. Atticus shows in the courtroom that the story hatched by Mayella and Bob Ewell is clearly a pack of lies, but the jury still finds Robinson guilty.

In a different context, Atticus tells his son Jem that true courage is knowing you are beaten before you start, but doing the thing anyway. Atticus knew before the case was given to him that he could not win it, but he still defended Robinson to the best of his ability. This, says Lee, marks the truly courageous from the ordinary person.

One of the key story lines in the book is the emergence of the character of Arthur (Boo) Radley. In a sense, he becomes an allegory for Scout's growing awareness of other people. Early in the book he is a figure of fear and mystery. Towards the end, Scout meets him and she takes him by the hand, as a friend. As the narrative has progressed, Scout has grown from a child, with childish concerns, playing childish games, into a young woman, who faces her fears, controls her emotions and views the world from a more adult perspective.

The message of hope carried in the book is that despite her debut into the adult world, she has avoided absorbing the prejudices of the community around her. Scout becomes our hope for a more tolerant future.

A personal note

I first read this book in the 1970s, as a high-school student. If there was one subject I was terrible at, it was English literature. I think it is the only examination I have ever failed. However, something happened during that exam. I started really reading the book, probably for the first time. During that exam, I came to understand something of the power of the words contained in this slim volume. Maybe I passed after all, despite the miserable mark on the bottom of the paper.

I was at the time an innocent 16-year-old. I knew nothing of politics, and still less of the politics of race. Alabama was a foreign place, no different from California or Afghanistan in my limited imagination. The name carried no associations of slavery, segregation, and white plantation owners exploiting black labour in those far off days. Similarly, as a child of very white, very middle class parents, I had no experience of the kind of person Bob Ewell represents. I was as innocent as Jean Louise Finch in her 9th year when I first glimpsed some of the power behind this book.

Now, having re-read the book in my 45th year, I can see all the sub-plots, understand most of the jokes, and realise the impact this book must have had when it was first published in 1960. It won a Pulitzer prize (1961, fiction) for its combination of powerful argument, charm, humour and honesty.

One of my favourite jokes has Scout's brother, Jem, building a snowman caricaturing Mr Avery, a neighbour, and then disguising it with female accoutrements. All the adults could see the joke, and referred to the snowman as a hermaphrodite. Scout, not having the vocabulary, heard the word as 'Morphodite' and used it in context at a later date, to great hilarity. I would never have seen that joke, even as a 16 year old. Very intelligent writing there, emphasising Scout's ability to make a grown up point, despite her apparent innocence.

Almost every review of this book refers to a passage in chapter 10, when Atticus Finch gives his children air rifles and warns them never to kill a mockingbird, because mockingbirds do no harm and sing beautifully. The standard interpretation is that the mockingbird represents innocence and Tom Robinson is the Mockingbird of the title, as he does no harm and brings a great deal of good to the community. And yet, in the end, he is shot in an almost thoughtless act of violence.

Personally I think the more important quote comes in chapter 3: "If you can learn a simple trick, you'll get along better with all sorts of folks. 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." For that is the key to overcoming prejudice: understanding and education.

In the final pages of the book, Scout finally sees the world from Boo Radley's point of view. Not only does she stand on his porch, looking at the world as the Boo would see it, but she remembers the events of the book, and re-interprets them from Boo's point of view, realising all he has done for her, and reflecting that she never gave him anything in return. It's a lesson we could all learn.

Rev. Sykes: "Jean Louise. Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passing."

Classic film, released in 1962 by Universal Pictures. It was directed by Robert Mulligan, with a screenplay by Horton Foote, based, of course, on Harper Lee's novel. Alan J. Pakula was the producer. Russell Harlan was the film's cinematographer, and Elmer Bernstein composed original music.

The stars included:

I won't go into too much detail about the plot, because I bet you know it by now. Scout Finch is a six-year-old tomboy living with her brother Jem and her attorney father, Atticus, in Depression-era Maycomb, Alabama. They gossip about the recluse next door and play with their new friend, Dill. Atticus agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man who has been accused of raping a white woman. Can Atticus prove that Robinson is innocent? And what will happen to the Finch family after the trial is over?

A lot of the success of this movie can be ascribed to the power and popularity of Harper Lee's novel -- but at the same time, a lot of the popularity of Harper Lee's novel comes as a direct result of the popularity of this movie. Yes, the story is powerful and engrossing. The dialogue is beautiful -- but of couse, it would be, having come from Lee's novel and from a script by a master like Horton Foote. The setting is perfectly realized, right down to the way the movie's courthouse was based on the courthouse in Lee's old hometown.

But the acting is what's gonna make you stand up and salute. Brock Peters, a man who knows he will never see justice, but dares to hope anyway; Robert Duvall, making his screen debut, pale and unspeaking and mesmerizing; Mary Badham, so sweet and fun and innocent; and Gregory Peck -- my god, Gregory Peck. Noble and quiet and dedicated and loving and strong. Anyone who doesn't wish they had more in common with Atticus Finch is not a person who's worth a bucket of warm spit. Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch should be on the ten-dollar bill. His portrait should be hung in every courtroom and law school in the country. The world needs a million more people like Atticus Finch, and Gregory Peck got the opportunity to perfectly embody him on the big screen. He did it perfectly, and thus ensured himself a permanent place in film history. Is it any wonder that the American Film Institute named Atticus the greatest screen hero of the past century?

And the cast seemed to realize they were making something extraordinary. While shooting the scene where he testifies in the courtroom, Brock Peters began crying, even though the scene had never been rehearsed that way. Mary Badham has acted only rarely since making this movie, though she probably never intended to become a full-time actress, and she corresponded regularly with Peck, Peters, and Phillip Alford. In fact, she always called Peck "Atticus." As for Peck himself, "To Kill a Mockingbird" was said to be his favorite of his own movies. Even Harper Lee loved the film, believing that Peck was almost a dead ringer for her own father, whom she had based Atticus on.

This movie received a slew of Oscar awards and nominations. Peck received the Academy Award for Best Actor, and Foote won for Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie also won Best Art Direction for a black-and-white movie. Nominations included Best Picture, Mary Badham for Best Supporting Actress, Robert Mulligan for Best Director, Russell Harlan for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, and Elmer Bernstein for Best Score.

Atticus, to the jury: "In the name of God! Do your duty."

Some research from the Internet Movie Database (

The most beautiful books in the world are never those with rhythm and reason interwoven within their pages, though they look pretty, and, to some extent, are. The Principia is not beautiful, though to a certain mind it comes close; nor are the works of lesser men than genius, men of half the calibre of Gauss, a quarter the power of Mozart. Shakespeare, for all his lilting tongue, is not beautiful, though there are moments when the poetry of his prose leaps off the page, and blazes in magnificent conflagrations of sheer, exquisite tenderness, and raw, unmatched talent. He is perfect; perfection need not be beautiful, just as gods need not be kind to be gods, as kings need not be merciful to be kings.

Beauty is a strange beast. We search for it, in myriad corners of the world, never realising it cannot be found – only made. We declare ordinary women princesses over others, mortal men more beautiful than the gods, though beauty is always, and shall always be, democratic – can mere humans be greater than the sight of leaves descending swift on the blowing breeze, glinting in the morning sun, or be lesser than the smell and touch of rain on bare, naked skin, in the light of the evening twilight? There is a frightening beauty to the wrath of the thunderstorm, a calm and earthly one in the sight of a mother’s love to her children; there is a heroic beauty to those who suffer because they choose to over another’s pain, a fragile, tenuous beauty to those who live, and in life do greater things, better things, than all their brethren, than all of their kin. Gandhi’s soul was beautiful. Martin Luther King Jr.’s heart was beautiful. Lovers in love are beautiful. Everything is beautiful, in the right light, and the right moment.

And, then, to books, there is a subtle beauty, a beauty as indefinable, as insubstantial, as those of numbers before Erdös, though concrete and rock-solid to our souls, if not our mind. To Kill a Mockingbird is such a book. How can it not be? Here, you no longer have the extremes of humanity, pitiful caricatures, crude and ugly mockeries of what it means to be human, that so plague our tales and stories. Villains are never really villains, heroes never truly heroes; it is this that the book reveals, and by so doing, never descends into the mistake of believing in the difference between right and wrong. There is no right and wrong; only fairness, and the right to fairness, that of all democratic principles alone does not ring hollow or sound false, that of all the many thousands of laws and rules and opinions humans may quibble over, stands incontestable over the others.

There is Atticus Finch, who, by all definitions, is a hero, and yet so stubbornly is not. To be able to court the criticism and disgust and ire of one’s own fellow men – a fate so many detest, so many despise, and hence venture little from the cages they place themselves - not by force or fate and destiny, but by pure, unadulterated choice, between what you believe is right and wrong, is the mark of a hero. Yet terrorists do the same, and they are not heroes. To be a hero, one must fight back not with weapons or violence, but with dignity, and all the power of the human spirit. There is not a person on Earth who will not weep when he hears his defence of a cripple maligned and prejudiced against by those who consider themselves his betters. I know I wept, and it will be the beginning of the end of humanity when someone does not. Atticus is a lawyer and a devoted father, and moreover a father to be admired and respected, if only for the wisdom he embodies, in his handling of his own children, and the handling of his own peers. Were all people like Atticus, heaven would be found on Earth, not in the skies.

There is Boo Radley, and Bob Ewell – one an evil mysterious and unknown, the other the worst excesses of humanity given human form. It is Boo, nonetheless, who proves himself to be far less cruel and insane than his reputation would present; the same cannot be said for Bob Ewell. Boo, like everyone else, is human, proof that what we say of a man is no evidence as to what he is, that rumour is rumour and never fact. And Bob? It is naïveté to believe that no humans can be as cruel as he is, as foul and mean and ignorant as he is – but the demons we see are our own demons masked; he is every bit the very worst that humans can ever fall to.

There are the other, smaller characters, though each is no lesser than each other in role. There is Judge Taylor, who, like Atticus, chose to help a man than abandon him, and chose Atticus as Tom Robinson’s defendant. There is Mayella Ewell, poor and penniless, to be pitied for what she has been made into, by the ministrations of a violent and absent father and the weight of her younger siblings on her shoulders - a small and innocent youth, whose only fault was being born an Ewell, and hence never accorded respect, or the chance at a future free from her father. There is Dolphus Raymond, Aunt Alexandra, Reverend Sykes, Stephanie Crawford, each a minuscule glimpse into the many kinds of people who make up the world, each a kaleidoscope of all the many shades of humanity that dwell side by side.

Above all, To Kill a Mockingbird is a story of growing up, of aging and becoming wiser. It is not our destinies that make us who we are, not our innate beliefs and tendencies and opinions, but our choices that define us, in the situations that fate provides, and every choice makes us grow. The story is about being human, and what humans can do, and what humans can choose to do. Boo Radley could brave the outside world when ‘his’ children were being threatened. Scout could be a lady when her Aunt – detested though she is – needs her most to be. Atticus could fight to save a man whom nobody else was willing to aid, Atticus could do what he believed was right over what was popular; all of them could do the hardest of the hardest of choices that life sees fit to throw, the only choice that is the difference between remaining a child, and growing up: to help when required, and ask for nothing in return.

If only the rest of humanity could do the same...

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