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					      To Kill a Mockingbird
By: Harper Lee

(Background notes / overview / characters)
Author & Novel Background
   Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville,
    Alabama.
       She attended and studied law at the University of
        Alabama. However, she left 6 months before
        getting her degree – went to NY, and worked as
        an airline reservations clerk (her family / friends
        supported her financially, so she could devote her
        time to writing)
   Mockingbird – sent to a publisher in 1957, but
    not published for 2 ½ years (after much
    rewriting)
Author & Novel Background
 Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in
  1960. (This is the only book she has written.)
 Plot / Characters – suggested by her own
  experiences in the small town of Monroeville,
  Alabama.
     Her father – model for lawyer/hero Atticus
     Her mother – maiden name was “Finch”
Overview of the novel…
   The novel covers three years in the life of Jean
    Louise (Scout) Finch, the young daughter of an
    Alabama lawyer. (told in the 1st person)

   Scout's narrative relates how she and her older
    brother, Jem, learn about fighting prejudice and
    upholding human dignity through the example of
    their father.
       Plot Summary: Scout and Jem live with their widowed
        father, Attitcus, in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama.
        Setting takes place during the Depression (after 1929).
        Atticus Finch has taken on the legal defense of a black
        man who has been falsely charged with raping a white
        woman.
    Parallels to the Tom Robinson case
                (don’t copy)
   March 25, 1931 - a freight train was stopped in Paint Rock, a tiny
    town in northern Alabama. Nine young African American men,
    who had been riding the train, were arrested. As two white women
    (one underage) got off of the freight cars, they accused the men of
    raping them on the train.
   Within a month, the first man was found guilty and sentenced to
    death. There was a series of trials condemning the other men
    solely on the testimony of the older woman, a known prostitute,
    who was attempting to avoid prosecution under the Mann Act,
    prohibiting taking minors across state lines for immoral purposes,
    like prostitution. Although none of the accused were executed, a
    number remained on death row for many years. The case was not
    settled until 1976 with the pardon of the last of the Scottsboro
    defendants.
Characters… (to help keep them
straight)
 Atticus Finch - widowed father of Jem and
  Scout / respected attorney
 Scout Finch - narrator and main character of
  the novel. She likes to dress like a boy /
  “tomboy”
 Jem Finch - Scout's older brother / very
  protective of her.
Characters cont.
   Boo Radley- Finch's neighbor / never comes
    out of the house
       tormented by Jem, Scout and Dill - they believe
        he is insane and a murderer of his family. He
        surprises the children in the end.
   Tom Robinson - middle-aged, black man who
    Atticus defends in court against charges of
    rape.
Characters cont.
   Bob and Mayella Ewell - the town "white trash."
    Bob instigates trouble and stirs the town to
    vengeance against Tom Robinson.
   Dill - (Charles Baker Harris) / Mrs. Rachel’s
    nephew from Meridian, Mississippi / summer visitor
    - becomes best friends with Scout and Jem.
   Calpurnia – African American / cook, maid, and
    mother figure of the Finch Family.
Characters cont.
   Aunt Alexandria - Atticus's nosy (yet, only looking
    out for the best of the children) sister. She comes to
    live with them in an effort to make things easier.

   Mrs. Dubose - neighbor who torments the children
    as they walk past her house. She is seen as
    courageous by Atticus as she fights an addiction to
    morphine.
Group activity / intro. to TKAM
 Groups of 3-4
 1 sheet of paper
 Something to write with
---Next to each statement put a “1” if you strongly agree, a
“2” if you somewhat agree, a “3” if you somewhat disagree,
and a “4” if you strongly disagree.
---List one reason after each.
1.   All men are created equal.
2.   Under our justice system, all citizens are created equal by
     the court system.
3.   It’s okay to be different.
4.   Nobody is all good, or all bad.
5.   Some words are so offensive, they should never be written
     or stated.
6.   The old saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones,
     but words will never hurt me,” is true.
7.   No one is above the law.

				
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