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Copy of Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird

background of author & elements of story

Sally Wendel

on 14 March 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Harper Lee & To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee Born April 28, 1926 Grew up in a small southwestern town of Monroeville Lee's father was a lawyer who also served on the state legislature from 1926-38 As a child, Lee was a tomboy & a precocious reader Harper Lee is an American writer known for her 1961-Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which deals with the issues of racism that were observed by the writer as a child in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. In June of 1966, Lee was one of two persons named by President Johnson to the National Council of Arts. Despite being Lee's only released book, it led to Lee being prized the Presidential Medal of Freedom of the United States for her contribution to literature in 2007. Lee has also been the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, but has always declined to make a speech.

She was the youngest of four children of Amasa Coleman Lee and Frances Cunningham Finch-Lee. The Great Depression 1929-1939 To Kill a Mockingbird relates to The Great Depression because it takes place during that time period. You will notice that Atticus quits the farm & goes back to school to become a lawyer. He does this because during the depression farmers were hit especially hard. Favorite quote: "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin & walk around" ~ Atticus Lee studied law at the University of Alabama, but leaves in 1950 before completing her law degree. She considers her time at law school valuable because of the excellent traning she received in thinking and writing. Also, the cases proved to be very valuable sources for her writing. Famous American Trials: "Scottsboro Boys" (1931-1937) The Scottsboro Trials were landmark legal cases that dealt with racism and the right to a fair trial. The cases includes frame-ups, all-white juries, rushed trials, an attempted lynching, angry mobs, and miscarriage of justice. To Kill a Mockingbird is said to be inspried by the Scottsboro Trials, which took place beginning on March 25, 1931. The major points of the trials are that two young white women, Victoria Price & Ruby Bates, accused nine young black men of assaulting & raping them on the train. Lee attended Huntingdon College 1944-45 Also studied one year at Oxford University Crowd gathers in Scottsboro during the first trials May, 1932: U.S. Supreme Court announces that it will review the Scottsboro cases
November 1932: U.S Supreme Court, by a vote of 7-2, reverses the convictions of the Scottsboro boys in Powell vs. Alabama on the grounds of Alabama failed to provide adequate assistance of counsel as required by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment
January, 1935: U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review the most recent Scottsboro convictions
April 1, 1935: U.S. Supreme Court overturns the convictions of two of the accused because African Americans were excluded from sitting on the juries in their trails (Patterson v. State of Alabama, 294 U.S. 600- 1935)(Norris v. State of Alabama, 294 U.S. 587-1935)
January 23, 1936: Patterson is convicted for a 4th time of rape and is sentenced to 75 years
June 14, 1937: Conviction of Patterson is upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court
October 26, 1937: U.S. Supreme Court declines to review the Patterson and Norris convictions
July, 1948: Patterson escapes from prison. In 1950, Patterson is involved in a bar fight, resulting in the death of another. Patterson is charged with murder--convicted of manslaughter, sentenced to 6-15, dies of cancer less than a year later
October, 1976: Norris is pardoned by Alabama Governor George Wallace (last surviving Scottsboro boy, dies at age 76)
(Linder 1999) Victoria Price & Ruby Bates January, 1932: Bates, in a letter to a Earl Streetman, denies that she was raped

July, 1977: Price brings suit against NBC for its movie "Judge Horton & the Scottsboro Boys," which she claimed defamed her and invaded her privacy; suit was dismissed; Price dies 5 years later Samuel S. Leibowitz, a New York lawyer, is retained by the International Labor Defense (ILD) to defend the Scottsboro boys Charlie Weems, Ozie Powell, Clarence Norris, Olen Montgomery, Willie Roberson, Haywood Patterson, Andy and Roy Wright, Eugene Williams ages thirteen to twenty-one Jury of Patterson's peers Leibowitz & Patterson Price testifing Bates testifying http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/scottsboro/scottsb.htm For more information on the Scottsboro Trials May 7, 1933: thousands march in Washington protesting the Alabama trials To Kill a Mockingbird Critical Response Initially, the novel received mixed reviews:
Unconvincing narrative voice of nine-year-old girl unreliable narrator
Excessively moralistic
However, during the racially charged atmosphere of the early 1960s, the book became an enormous success:
Won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961
Sold over 30 million copies worldwide
Translated into more than forty different languages
Two years after publication, the Academy Award-winning film was produced

50 Years Later, 'Mockingbird' Remains Relevant
July 10, 2010
Weekend Edition Saturday
[6 min 13 sec]
To mark the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird," host Scott Simon speaks with author James McBride about how the classic American novel influenced his life and writing career. McBride is the author of the memoir "The Color of Water," and the novel "Miracle at St. Anna," which was adapted into a film directed by Spike Lee.
Main Characters in TKAM Jean Louise Fench (Scout) Racism Classism Sexism Inequality Themes Atticus Finch Jeremy Finch (Jem) Calpurnia Arthur Radley (Boo) Charles Baker Harris (Dill) Tom Roberinson Good v. Evil Morality Symbols Atticus Finch is a lawyer who is defending a black man, Tom Robinson, with the charge of raping a white girl. The lives of the characters are changed by racism; the force of racim develops during the course of the narrative and drives the plot line throughout the novel. The character of Mr. Dolphus Raymond is said to be a sinful man according to the community because he has fathered mixed children. To contemplate this felony he pretends to be a drunk: "Secretly, Miss Finch, I'm not much of a drinker, but you see they could never, never understand that I live like I do because that is the way I want to live."
He tells Scout his secret because he knows Scout and Jem believe racism is wrong. They learn from their environment and the teachings of their father, which creates and shapes their opinions of equality.
Racism is, at first, bullying and discriminative on a basic level. The novel develops as the force of racism affects many individuals in Maycomb. Racism is life altering and causes some people to become outcasts, as in Raymond's case. Racism creates the back-bone of the story, and during this time in history, racism is too expansive to overcome discrimination in order to create room for justice.
Atticus explains to Scout how the Ewells differ from the rest of society: "'You, Miss Scout Finch, are of the common folk. You must obey the law.' He said that the Ewells were members of an exclusive society made up of Ewells. In certain circumstances the common folk judiciously allowed them certain privileges by the simple method of becoming blind to some of the Ewells' activities. They didn't have to go to school, for one thing. Another thing, Mr. Bob Ewell ... was premitted to hunt and trap out of season" (41). What does this teach the alcoholic, who "spends his relief checks on green whiskey" while his "children have a way of crying from hunger pains" ? Racism: "The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races. Hence: prejudice and antagonism towards people of other races, esp. those felt to be a threat to one's cultural or racial integrity or economic well-being; the expression of such prejudice in words or actions" (OED). Classism: "The belief that people can be distinguished or characterized, esp. as inferior, on the basis of their social class; discrimination or prejudice against people belonging to a particular social class" (OED). Classism is not as straight forwartd as other "isms" because it crosses race, ethinicity, gender, sexual orentation. Yet, classism has the same detrimental affects as other specific oppressed groups of peoples The class system arranges itself from highest to lowest. For example, Mrs. Dubose The Finches The Ewells/ Cunninghams The black community Jem describes four kinds of "folks" in Maycomb County: " ... our kind of folks don't like the Cunninghams, the Cunninghams don't like the Ewells, and the Ewells hate and despise the coloured folks" (303). Despite each family knowing the other, the wealth and/ or position in the caste system lead them to believe that they are better than others Scout describes Aunt Alexandra's obsession with heredity and family lineage: "[She]was of the opinion ... that the longer a family had been squatting on one patch of land the finer it was" (130) Aunt Alexandra believes that Scout and Jem are far too imaginative, considering their position in life and in the community. She thinks they ought to take themselves and life a bit more seriously if they want to be respectable Southern citizens. The first day of school, it's made clear that certain students (the Cunninghams & the Ewells) were of a certain social standing.
Walter Cunningham had no lunch or shoes, but he clings to his family's dignity--"the Cunningham's never took anything they can't pay back ... They don't have much, but they get along on it" (26).
The narrator discribes Burris Ewell as one of "the filthiest human I had ever seen" (35) and "[h]e's a mean one, a hard-down mean one" (36). He and his siblings "come [the] first day every year and then leave. The truant lady get 'em here 'cause she threatens 'em with the sheriff, but she's give up trying' to 'em" (36). On the other hand, Scout is reprimanded because she is able to read : "I read the alphabet a faint line appeared between her eyebrows, and after making me read most of My First Reader and the stock-market quotations from The Mobile Register aloud, she discovered that I was literate and looked at me with more than faint distates" (22). Sexism: "Prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex" (OED). Sexism is the belief that one sex (usually male) is naturally superior to the opposite. This is represented mostly by Aunt Alexandra and also at the trial of Tom Robinson.
Aunt Alexandra has grown up believing that wearing dresses, being well mannered and going to tea parties is all required in order to be a lady. Naturally Scout is mortified as she has always been a bit of a tom boy. She continues to put pressure on Scout to stop being childish so she can then become a ‘proper’ lady. Scout is then made to go to a women’s group at the Finch’s house hosted by Aunt Alexandra, and is made to wear her best clothes and is advised to be on her best behaviour.
The other example of sexism is at the trial in which there is an all male jury. No women are given the chance to even have an opinion or chose on whether Tom Robinson is guilty or not. Bildungsroman In literary criticism, Bildungsroman or coming-of-age story is a literary genre which focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood and in which character change is extremely important.
In a Bildungsroman, the goal is maturity, and the protagonist achieves it gradually and with difficulty. The genre often features a main conflict between the main character and society.
Miss Maudie Harris-a widow neighbor and friend to the Fench family. She has a sharp-tounge & speaks her mind. She shares Atticus' passion for truth & justice. She spends most days out doors tending her garden. People drive by her house & tell her that she & her flowers are going to hell. When Scout asked her to explain, Miss Maudie says they're against anything people gain enjoyment out of. They feel that the time she uses to take care of her plants is time wasted from reading the Bible. This hatred is sexist because people feel that she is not conforming to the ways in which women are suppose to act--getting remarried staying inside cleaning, cooking, kniting, & entertaining guest, etc. Atticus has experienced evil, but has not lost his faith in the good of humanity. He knows every person has good & evil inside of them, but he tries to appreciate the good in people & understand the bad. Genre Atticus is the moral voice in the story. He teaches his children morality through lessons in humanity. He teaches them that they can have a conscience without becoming cynical; but to achieve this, they must be sympathetic & understanding The Finch is a symbol of liberty. Finches are often caged as pets for their beauty & joyous songs. The caged songbird serves as a symbol of repressed humanity, and the free bird as a symbol of liberty. The Finch family represents this songbird, therefore making them susceptible to the dangers of the racist citizens of Maycomb. Mockingbirds have no distinct call of their own--they imitate other birds . They listen first, then respond. Over the course of the novel, killing a mockingbird is associated with the sinful, the pointless, and the cruel. Lee uses the mockingbird to judge more complicated situations (a sign to stop, listen, & think before acting). In the novel, the mockingbird represents the idea of innocence. Many characters, like Scout, Jem, Dill, Boo, Tom & Mr. Raymond can be characterized as the innocent. Their innocence is destroyed or injured in connection with some sort of evil. Symbols are objects, characters, figures, and colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
Themes are the fundamental and often universal ideas explored in a literary work.
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