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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Updated on August 24, 2012

To Kill a Mockingbird study

To Kill a Mockingbird, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee is the one of the best-loved stories of all time. The story takes place in a small isolated town in Alabama and depicts the racial prejudice and discrimination that were tormented the life of the negatively privileged people in the 1930s. The story gives out the messages that law cannot produce social change in a racist community. The restrictions made by law are no way useful in building up a society where equality and fraternity reigns. To Kill a Mockingbird is also a powerful fictional piece which is a display of various literary devices and strong themes. The satirical classic piece is written in the view of Scout Finch, a six year old girl and reflects prejudice, segregation and various other practices in the contemporary society.

To Kill a Mockingbird summary

An example of the injustice against the blacks in the novel is the trial of Tom Robinson. He was falsely charged for raping a white woman. Though Tom Robinson was innocent, he was found guilty by the jurors. It was easy for a black man to be convicted those days. African Americans were deprived of justice and all crimes were charged on them. The strict social codes and handicapped laws of that period were totally unfair to the African Americans as people were judged through nothing but the color of their skin. No law could uphold the rights of the suffering African Americans of 1930s. Laws were blind to the sentiments of the blacks.

To Kill a Mockingbird addresses various themes like tragedy, racial segregation, courage, the persecution suffered by the innocent etc.

Synopsis of to kill a mockingbird

One famous writer commented about the novel that "In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism." The character Atticus Finch is the real model of morality and integrity as far as law is corned. To Kill a Mockingbird is extraordinarily influential as well as highly controversial. The novel strongly supports racial justice and explains the failure of law as a remedy to racial tensions and distinctions. Justice is the most important theme of the novel. The author is trying to explain true justice that is seen through the eyes of the innocent.

To Kill a Mockingbird Analysis

We can find in the story that Scout and her brother; the little meek ones are able to detect the injustice done to Mr. Robinson. Law or society order fails completely in establishing justice and equality in the society. Except Scout and her brother, nobody could understand that society is ignoring justice. The elderly people in the town who have gone through different experiences in their life become blinded with the society order and never identity the uselessness of law. Nobody is seen reacting when an innocent man is sentenced to death. We can see society ignoring the cruelty done to this innocent individual. The early society of South was blinded with wrong notions of law and order and justice. Prejudice and ignorance of that generation made them ignore justice. In the novel the author tries to associate justice with innocence. He attempts to depict justice as being easily detected.

To Kill a Mockingbird story : Society is highly prejudiced with several beliefs and practices. These beliefs and practices acted as a veil preventing the people from understanding what justice is and what injustice is. Even the laws and orders of that society fail to produce the social change that the society requires. The only exception to this is Atticus who successfully passes his nobility, morality and innocence to the young generation and the blinded society. To Kill a Mockingbird thus loudly proclaims the Promise and Limits of the Law and the vanity of the celebrated rules and regulations of the society.

To Kill a Mockingbird setting : People being under injustice for several centuries have lost the sensitivity to understand what is right. Racial discrimination and exploitation is no longer wrong to these blinded eyes. Mr. Robinson was punished just because he was of black origin. We can see Atticus saying in the novel that "The witnesses for the state have presented themselves to you gentlemen, to this court, in the cynical confidence that their testimony would not be doubted, confident that you gentlemen would go along with them on the assumption-the evil assumption-that all Negroes lie, that all Negroes are basically immoral beings, that all Negro men are not to be trusted around our women, an assumption one associates with minds of their caliber. Which, gentlemen, we know is in itself a lie as black as Tom Robinson's skin, a lie I do not have to point out to you. You know the truth, the truth is this: some Negroes lie, some Negroes are immoral; some Negro men cannot be trusted around women, black or white. But this is a truth that applies to the human race and to no particular race of men." (Lee, p. 217). This is the real example of the way blacks were treated during the period of writing this novel. The racial segregation that prevailed during those times prepared an isolated, ill developed and racially segregated society that encouraged racial mistrust, senseless conflicts and other discriminations that ultimately prevented the society from obtaining true racial equality. Laws and rules only widened the gap between the blacks and the whites. To Kill a Mockingbird is a real testimony of the racially segregated society of the 1960s.

To Kill a Mockingbird Review

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel of such rare excellence where the unaffected young narrator watches the show with an innocent but perceptive mind (though she seems to use adult language to deliver the matter). The innocent narrative beautifully conveys the complex theme even though she is too naïve and inexperienced to fully understand what is really happening. The narration is skillful, straightforward, witty and live. All characters are vibrant and alive at all points. The beauty of this novel is its ability to bring sympathy out of the hearts of the readers even though it was written in 1960. Even though it deals with complex themes, the readers never get bored or fed up since the narrator is a child and the readers easily get along with her.


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    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 6 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      I'll tag it with a useful. One thing I always felt the novel was about was the hope for a better future as made clear in Scout. People, including and especially children, who ask too many questions for the comfort of certain others can in time change the world.

    • Heather Says profile image

      Heather Rode 6 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

      My all time favorite book! Such great character names... Atticus, Scout, Boo Radley, etc. Great hub!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 6 years ago from Taos, NM

      Excellent review and explanation of the novel. This is one of my favorite American novelS and the best written work on the theme of racial prejudice and injustice.