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To Kill a Mockingbird Background Info
Transcript of To Kill a Mockingbird Background Info
Setting of the Novel
Takes place in
The Great Depression (1930s)
THE GREAT DEPRESSION
The economic crisis began with the
stock market crash
in 1929 and continued through the 1930s.
This is recognized now as
THE GREAT DEPRESSION
unemployment rates rose drastically
wages fell 15%
The estimated number of
in 1932 was
14 million (1/3 of the workforce)
, but could have been as high as
was taking place in the middle of the country. Farmers and workers suffered greatly.
Although slavery was abolished in 1863,
African Americans were still denied many rights
existed in schools, public bathrooms, buses and many other public places.
African Americans could not sit in the same sections as whites, they have separate facilities as well because of
Jim Crow Laws
Racial Tension and Discrimination of the Time
A great deal of
existed in the
African Americans were
to be on juries.
African Americans were often
with little cause.
Gender Bias in the 1930s
Women were seen as the
was not important for women.
Wealthy women were expected to
Men were not seen as
The South in the 1930s
economy was hit hard by the depression.
Many white southerners had a
idea of how life should be.
They felt threatened by
for African Americans to advance themselves
Nearly half of all
in the South
did not receive an education
past the 5th grade.
Racist groups like the
Ku Klux Klan
and the Black Shirts terrorized African Americans.
was still a common practice.
Harper Lee Background and Biography
Born on April 28, 1926 in
Real name is
Nelle Harper Lee
Father - Amasa Coleman Lee (practiced law and was on state legislature from 1926-1938)
Mother – Frances Cunningham Finch Lee
Where it all began…
Harper Lee at the Monroeville Courthouse
Youngest of four children.
Got in many playground fights.
, and sometimes talked back to teachers.
Became good friends with her schoolmate and neighbor,
Nelle protected Truman from childhood bullies.
Harper Lee and Truman Capote
Truman Capote & Harper Lee
After graduating high school in
, she went to the all-female
in Montgomery to study
Transferred to the
University of Alabama
Wrote for and eventually became the editor of the school’s newspaper and humor magazine, the
Began working on her
while completing her undergrad.
Decided that writing—not the law—was her true calling and eventually dropped out after a summer at
In 1949, 23-year-old Harper moved to NYC.
Struggled for several years working various odd jobs.
While living in NYC, Harper re-united with Truman Capote.
Befriended Broadway composer Michael Martin Brown and his wife Joy.
In 1956, the Browns gave Harper a generous Christmas present—they gave her a gift of one year’s wages and a note that said “You have one year off from your job to write whatever you please. Merry Christmas."
When she began writing, it was very episodic, and struggled to bring it all together.
One night, Harper Lee threw her manuscript out a window and she later had to collect it out of the snow.
The novel was completed by 1959, and published in 1960.
Received immediate success.
The following year, To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize and several other literary awards.
In 1962 the book was adapted for film.
visited the set often
and did many interviews.
The film had
eight Academy Award nominations
. The film won four, including Best Actor for Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus Finch.
The Film Adaptation
Harper Lee on Set
Harper joined Truman Capote in Holcomb, Kansas to work on the nonfiction novel,
In Cold Blood
Harper helped with the interviews and
Harper was much more appealing to the people in Kansas than her flamboyant friend, Truman.
The book was published in 1966, and a
developed between the friends.
Work on In Cold Blood
After the massive
To Kill a Mockingbird
, Harper lived a very
To Kill a Mockingbird
remained the only published novel from Harper Lee, until 2015.
At one time, she began a second novel,
The Long Goodbye
, and a nonfiction book project about an Alabama serial killer, but both were never completed or published.
During her later years, she lived in an assisted-living facility, and recently passed away on February 19, 2016.
In a 2011 interview with the Daily Telegraph,
Harper explained why she never wrote again
: "Two reasons: one, I wouldn't go through the pressure and publicity I went through with
To Kill a Mockingbird
for any amount of money. Second,
I have said what I wanted to say and I will not say it again
Harper Lee Now
In June 1966, she was appointed to the
of the Arts
by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
Harper has won many honorary awards and degrees, but
to make any speeches.
On November 5, 2007, Lee was presented with the
Presidential Medal of Freedom
by George W. Bush.
LITERARY DEVICES IN TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Point of View
One of the most distinctive characteristics of the novel
The story is told from the perspective of a child who is approx 6 years old when the story begins
Look for many symbols throughout the novel - especially symbolic animals
- recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that help develop the themes
ex: small town life
old fashioned values
It was announced on February 3, 2015, (fifty-five years after To Kill a Mockingbird), that Harper Lee is publishing a second book,
Go Set a Watchman
Lee completed this novel in the 1950s and then set aside in favor of Mockingbird. It follows Scout, the little girl of "Mockingbird," as an adult. The manuscript was rediscovered last year.
A statement from the publisher: "Reading in many ways like a
to Harper Lee's classic novel, it is a compelling and ultimately moving narrative about a father and a daughter's relationship, and the life of a small Alabama town living through the
of the 1950s."