To Kill a Mockingbird, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee 5

Context 5

Summary 6

Characters 8

Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch 8

Atticus Finch 8

Jeremy Atticus ‘Jem’ Finch 8

Arthur ‘Boo’ Radley 8

Bob Ewell 8

Charles Baker ‘Dill’ Harris 9

Miss Maudie Atkinson 9

Calpurnia 9

Aunt Alexandra 9

Mayella Ewell 9

Tom Robinson 9

Link Deas 9

Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose 9

Nathan Radley 10

Heck Tate 10

Mr. Underwood 10

Mr. Dolphus Raymond 10

Mr. Walter Cunningham 10

Walter Cunningham 10

Themes and Symbols 11

Themes 11

The Coexistence of Good and Evil 11

The Importance of Moral Education 11

The Existence of Social Inequality 12

Symbols 12

Mockingbirds 12

Boo Radley 13

Important Quotations Explained 14

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Context

Nelle Harper Lee was born on April 28, 1926, in Monroeville, Alabama, a sleepy small town similar in many ways to Maycomb, the setting of To Kill a Mockingbird. Like Atticus Finch, the father of Scout, the narrator and protagonist of To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee’s father was a lawyer. Among Lee’s childhood friends was the future novelist and essayist Truman Capote, from whom she drew inspiration for the character Dill. These personal details notwithstanding, Lee maintains that To Kill a Mockingbird was intended to portray not her own childhood home but rather a nonspecific Southern town. “People are people anywhere you put them,” she declared in a 1961 interview.

Yet the book’s setting and characters are not the only aspects of the story shaped by events that occurred during Lee’s childhood. In 1931, when Lee was five, nine young black men were accused of raping two white women near Scottsboro, Alabama. After a series of lengthy, highly publicized, and often bitter trials, five of the nine men were sentenced to long prison terms. Many prominent lawyers and other American citizens saw the sentences as spurious and motivated only by racial prejudice. It was also suspected that the women who had accuse...

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