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Introduction to "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Harper Lee

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by

Bridget Van Hoven

on 19 September 2016

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Transcript of Introduction to "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Harper Lee

School
City vs. country kids

Segregated

Scout in trouble for reading and writing

Walter Cunningham: no shoes, no lunch, parents paid in products

Miss Caroline trying her best, but failing!

Introduction to "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Harper Lee
Historical Background
Jim Crow Laws
Scottsboro Trials
Recovering from the Great Depression
Racial Injustice
Poor South

Author Information
Nelle Harper Lee
Born April, 28, 1926 in Monroeville, AL (basis for Maycomb)
Youngest of 4 – studied law at University of Alabama
A woman living in the south during the 1940’s
Moved to NYC in the 1950’s to write

Harper Lee's Technique in the Novel
Viewpoint – Scout’s P.O.V./Narrator– 1st person

Scout includes events she hasn’t directly witnessed

As the novel covers many years, Scout describes the changes in other characters & herself. Novel covers about 4 years.

Through dialogue, we receive other viewpoints through the conversation of others.

Bildungsroman: coming of age story; reader views the psychological and moral growth of the main character throughout the story
Characters
**ATTICUS FINCH**
Widowed father of Jem & Scout
Talented and skilled attorney respected by the town
“lives his life as a lesson to his children”

SCOUT FINCH
Jean Louise
Narrator and main character

JEM FINCH
Scout’s older brother

**ARTHUR “BOO” RADLEY **
Finch neighbor who never comes out of the house
Neighborhood rumors say he is crazy and a monster

Setting
Maycomb, Alabama
Deep south
Small town, America
“Safe & Secure” world
Forces of racism threatening to explode the illusion of peace.
1933-1935
Great Depression
No one had much money

Background and Historical Context


Novel History
Published in 1960
Won Pulitzer Prize
Harper Lee hasn’t written since
July 2015 a SECOND novel by Lee was published "Go Set a Watchman" which is connected to TKAM
*** Indicates characters who are "mockingbirds"
**TOM ROBINSON **
Middle-aged black man who Atticus defends

BOB & MAYELLA EWELL
The town “white trash”
Many children, no mother
Bob, the father, stirs up all the trouble in town
Mayella, the daughter, accuses Tom Robinson of rape

DILL
Charles Baker Harris
Mrs. Rachel’s nephew from Meridian
MS who visits Maycomb every summer

CALPURNIA (Cal)
The Finch’s family cook, maid, and mother-figure

AUNT ALEXANDRIA
Atticus’ noisy, bossy, but well-intentioned sister
MRS. DUBOSE
Neighbor who torments Scout & Jem
She can’t understand why Atticus views her as courageous

MISS MAUDIE
Open minded
Nicest of the neighborhood ladies

Themes
Prejudice – the most obvious theme
Tom Robinson
Boo Radley
Scout & Jem at Cal’s church
Walter Cunningham (Scout’s classmate)

Courage – Moral, mental, & physical
Atticus
Mrs. Dubose
Jem
Mockingbird Theme – “It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird…”
Becomes a metaphor for the wrongness of hurting innocent or vulnerable people.
Tom Robinson
Boo Radley
Other Themes in the novel
Equal justice
Social outcasts
Maturing
Heroism
The Radley's (Nathan, Arthur "Boo", Mr. and Mrs.)

Family kept to themselves, no social commitments or church

Viewed as strange

No one REALLY knows them--they are the center of town gossip

The children view Boo as a monster
Vocabulary
“Assuaged” (Lee 3)
to soothe or to calm

“Dictum/Chattels” (Lee 4)
an authoritative pronouncement/ personal property

“Taciturn” (Lee 4)
silent or uncommunicative

“Predilection” (Lee 9).
A tendency or inclination
Full transcript