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To Kill a Mockingbird Notes

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Paula McKee

on 14 January 2019

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Transcript of To Kill a Mockingbird Notes

To Kill a Mockingbird
Notes on the novel
Harper Lee is the author
of the novel TKAM.

To Kill a Mockingbird
was Harper Lee's
first and only novel until the
publication of Go Set a Watchman in 2015.

Parallels between Harper Lee
and Scout Finch, the protagonist

Both had father lawyers.
Both Scout and Harper live in Alabama.
Both grew up at the time that the story takes
place, 193 s
Harper Lee's mother's maiden name is "Finch"
and the family's name is Finch in the novel.
Both were independent, curious tomboys.
TKAM was published in 1960 when the Civil Rights Movement had gained a strong momentum.
An Academy Award-winning film with Gregory Peck as Best Actor was later produced.
For TKAM, she received the Pulitzer Prize for the best novel in 1960.
Born in Monroeville, Alabama on
April 26, 1926;
died February 19, 2016.
Her family is related to Robert E. Lee.
Studied law but never earned a degree
Lee modeled many
of her characters
after real people.
For example, Dill was
modeled after a childhood friend,
Truman Capote who wrote a famous novel,
In Cold Blood. (on the AP reading list).
Themes in
To Kill a Mockingbird

Prejudice is responsible
for many of our
problems in society.
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.
Deliberate destruction
of innocence is wrong.
Education is about
much more than
what is learned
in the classroom.
Courage is more than
a man with a gun in
his hand.
and Coming of age
Historical context
Isolated, old, steamy town that is slow to
respond to change
Town is not accepting of newcomers or new ideas.
Country in grips of 1929 stock market crash and Great Depression
President Franklin D. Roosevelt with his New Deal Program (relief, recovery, and reform in response to the Great Depression) is trying to improve the desperate situation in the country.
African-Americans were usually
relegated to the performance of
menial jobs, such as field hands or
housemaids and cooks.
A white man's word was never questioned;
blacks were stereotyped as untrustworthy.
Point of View:
a grown-up Scout
in 1st person
as a flashback
Literary Devices
The humorous tone is created by Scout's
ingenuousness and the wild imaginings
of the children in the story
Tone: Lee uses humor and tenderness
to promote understanding
and warn against judging others.
mad dog,

in a tree

white flowers
single lightbulb...
set by descriptions of the weird neighbor, Boo Radley, the Radley place, two murders, the rape trial...
Gifts are anonymously left in the knothole of the tree;
Atticus faces a dog with rabies;
A white gang comes to kill a black man in the night.
Foreshadowing and
Scout's understanding of the events she is narrating is limited because she is a child; there is often a significant incongruity between what she describes and what is actually taking place.
Black dialect,

southern white dialect,
poor "white-trash" dialect
sophisticated speech for Atticus
a characteristic speech
of a region or social group
It is divided in two parts
Structure of the novel
Part 1 tells a preliminary story,
introduces the main characters,
and foreshadows events in part 2.
Chapter 9 introduces Tom and foreshadows the theme of prejudice and injustice.
The first plot centers on Atticus Finch, a lawyer.
He is a fair man despite the prejudice of his day.
Atticus goes to court to defend a black man who is
accused of raping a white woman.
Parallel Plots
The second plot involves the children and
their recluse neighbor, Boo Radley.
Segregation still existed,
Maycomb is highly prejudiced about "blacks," whom had not been slaves for over 60 years yet were considered to be second-class citizens.
Part 2 deals with social prejudice,
the rape trial, and how the characters
you meet in part 1
react to the intensity
of the trial.
Lived with her sister,
Alice, a practicing lawyer
at the age of 97. Alice
died in 2014 at the age of 103.
Neither sister ever
married or had children.
Harper Lee in 1960
In Cold Blood
Capote wrote
What will you learn from TKAM?
Lee set the novel in the
fictional town of
Maycomb, AL
based on her real
hometown of
Monroeville, AL
but separate was not equal.
Whites may have known
these behaviors were wrong,
but many were reluctant
to change because
it meant they would
lose their power.
Racial slurs were commonly used in
this time period, and they are used in
the novel by
some unedu
cated characters
The (n-word) is an offensive word even though some people may use the term today in a friendly way.

The word is used in the novel to teach against its use and not to promote it.

We will not say the word as we read the novel because it is too emotionally charged.

You may say "n-word" or skip it altogether like a curse word.

Please talk to me about these policies if you have questions or concerns.
Direct Characterization:
learning about a character by being told exactly what that character is like by the narrator.

"Jem was twelve and he loved football."
Indirect Characterization:
Learning about a character only by observing what they do and say.

"Jem's appetite was appalling, and he spent hours a day sulking in his room and telling me to get lost."

Lee based part of the story on the real-life Scottsboro Trial - a Landmark Case
Nine Black teenage boys "hoboing" on a train between Chattanooga and Memphis get in fight with White men.
Boys initially arrested and charged with assault
White women Ruby Bates and Victoria Price were discovered on the train.
Women accuse boys of rape.
March 25, 1931
Short Documentary about the case - produced by History Day students = 6 minutes
American Experience PBS documentary
if you would like to learn more.
Harper Lee before she died.
Lee helped with the research.
(These guys are the murderers.)
3 minute video
3 minute video
Jim Crow Laws
Full transcript