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To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel written by Harper Lee. It was published in 1960

by J.B. Lippincott Company in Philadelphia & New York. This is the only book that

Harper Lee has ever written. It is also one of the best-loved novels in American

literature, winning the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Lee is a very private person who doesn t

grant interviews, although her literary agent says she divides her time between her

hometown of Monroeville, Alabama and New York. She also enjoys reading, and her

favorite authors are Jane Austen, Charles Lamb, and Robert Louis Stevenson. She has

said that her novel about a white southern lawyer defending an innocent black man is not

autobiographical. But her father was a lawyer, and the inspiration for the character

Atticus Finch.

To Kill a Mockingbird is about a young girl named Jean-Louise Finch, who they

call Scout, her brother Jeremy, nick-named Jem, and many other characters. Their

father Atticus, who is a lawyer, had been given a case to handle and did not have a choice

but to receive it and work his best for his client. The case was about an African man,

named Tom Robinson, who was accused of raping a white woman. This case causes

many problems that they have to deal with everyday. The entire town turns against them

saying that Atticus is a nigger-lover. Even Atticus family turned against them, which

really hurts Scout, especially when her cousin Francis says I guess it ain t your fault if

Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover besides, but I m here to tell you it certainly does mortify

the rest of the family- (Harper 91).

Racism is a major theme in this story along with growing up. Throughout the

story the reader sees how Scout and Jem are afraid of Boo Radley because they think he

is a monster and try to tease him. Later in the novel they are no longer afraid of him and

no longer interested in teasing him. Another example of their maturity is how they view

people. When Scout and Jem see how Tom Robinson is treated just because he is black,

they begin to understand the meaning of prejudice. Throughout the trial Scout watched

and believed that Tom will be found innocent. Instead he is found guilty. Her

disappointment in the verdict makes Scout question the idea of justice. Scout and Jem

also think that their dad isn t like any other fathers in school, but as the book goes on,

their attitude towards their father has changed, which is another sign of maturity. Scout

also overheard her teacher saying that it is a good thing that Tom was convicted because

the black were getting too high and mighty. This disturbs Scout very much because the

teacher is always telling them about democracy and the persecution of Jews, yet she says

it is all right to persecute the blacks. All of this makes Scout wonder how her teacher

could be so contradictory. The last incident which brings Scout to adulthood is when she

and Jem are brought safely home from their attacker by Boo. She finally has the courage

to stand on the Radley porch and the kids are no longer afraid of Boo Radley.

I think that this story has a very good plot to it. It tells an interesting story about

racism and growing up. The plot wasn t the least bit boring either. There never seemed

to be a dull moment throughout the story. The themes were also portrayed very well. It

really showed how so many people can become so racist over issues that are

uncontrollable. Eventhough this was written in the 1950 s, I think that it still has the

same relevancy now as it did then because racism is still a big issue. The theme on

growing up was also shown very well throughout the book. At the beginning of the story

Scout is only about six years old, which is the age when children start really figuring

things out. I think Harper Lee did a very nice job showing all the signs of maturity that

Scout and Jem face throughout the story, especially since they had no mother; just

Calpurnia, who was their housekeeper, and their father who wasn t home as much as he

should have been when Scout and Jem are at such young ages.

In conclusion, I would recommend this book to anyone high school age or older.

I think it teaches a lot of things that everyone has gone through or everyone will have to

go through someday.


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