VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 26 POSTED ON: 11/11/2011
To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee • Wrote To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960 • Based the story on her life growing up in Monroeville, Alabama • TKAM was the only novel she ever wrote SETTING OF THE NOVEL • Southern United States Maycomb, Alabama (fictional name) • 1930’s Great Depression Dust bowl Prejudice and legal segregation Ignorance Major Historical Happenings... • Recovering from the Great Depression • Poor South • Jim Crow Laws • Racial Injustice • Scottsboro Trials 1930’s - Great Depression began when the stock market crashed in October, 1929 • Businesses failed, factories closed – People were out of work – Even people with money suffered because nothing was being produced for sale. • Poor people lost their homes, were forced to “live off the land.” 1929-1939 • Farmers were already feeling the effects – Prices of crops went down – Many farms foreclosed • People could not afford luxuries – Factories shut down – Businesses went out • Banks could not pay out money • People could not pay their taxes Many found being broke – Schools shut down due to humiliating. lack of funds • Many families became homeless and had to live in shanties “White trash” • Poor, uneducated white people who lived on “relief “ – lowest social class, even below the poor blacks – prejudiced against black people – felt the need to “put down” blacks in order to elevate themselves A drought in the South lead to dust storms that destroyed crops. “The Dust Bowl” The South Was Buried • Crops turned to dust=No food to be sent out • Homes buried • Fields blown away • South in state of emergency • Dust Bowl the #1 weather crisis of the 20th century Racial prejudice was alive & well. Although slavery had ended in 1864, old ideas were slow to change. Jim Crow Laws • After the American Civil War most states in the South passed anti-African American legislation. These became known as Jim Crow laws. • These laws included segregation in… – Schools -- Hospitals – Theaters -- Water fountains – Restaurants – Hotels – Public transportation – Some states forbid inter-racial marriages • These laws were instituted in 1896 and were not abolished till the late 1950’s (even then still not completely). Racial separation (segregation) • 9 young African- American men (13- 20) accused of raping 2 white girls in 1931 • Immediately sentenced to death • Trials went on for nearly 15 years before all the men were dismissed • Started on a train bound for Memphis • Several white men boarded and picked a fight with the black men • Whites were forced off train by the 12 black men. The white men reported the the black men had raped two white girls on the train to authorities • They were immediately arrested and tried in front of an all-white jury. The trials caused a huge uproar amongst the black community. Reading the Novel • Setting is all important –be aware of the “where” and “when” as you begin • Point of View – the novel is shaped by the voice of a young girl, Scout, who sees the story from a position of naïve acceptance • “Goodness vs. Evil (Ignorance)” is an important theme Point of View • First Person Narrator – Story is told by Scout – Told as a woman looking back to when she was young school girl. – Scout represents the author, Harper Lee, as a little girl. However, the story is not strictly autobiographical. Characters • Scout: young girl age 6 – 10 through the novel. Tomboy, little sister, innocent, naive • Jem: 10 - 14 year olf boy, Scout’s older brother, respectful, protective, leader • Dill: neighbor boy, curious, 7 – 11 years old • The character of “Dill,” Scout and Jem’s playmate in the novel was based upon Lee’s actual neighbor, Truman Capote • Capote is famous for amongst other things, In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Characters • Atticus Finch - an attorney whose wife has died, leaving him to raise their two children. He is fair and just and does not subscribe to the ways of the “old South.” • Tom Robinson – a black man accused of raping white girl; he is defended at trial by Atticus Prejudice in the novel Race Gender Social Status Age Religion Gender Bias (Prejudice) • Women were considered “weak” • Women were generally not educated for occupations outside the home • In wealthy families, women were expected to oversee the servants and entertain guests • Men not considered capable of nurturing children Legal Issues of the 1930’s which impact the story • Women given the vote in 1920 • Juries were MALE and WHITE • “Fair trial” did not include acceptance of a black man’s word against a white man’s
"To Kill a Mockingbird"