To kill a mockingbird
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To Kill A Mockingbird. Higher . Historical Setting. Set in the fictional Maycomb , Alabama in the 1930s Depression in the US Alabama was renowned for its racial tensions

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Historical setting
Historical Setting

Set in the fictional Maycomb, Alabama in the 1930s Depression in the US

Alabama was renowned for its racial tensions

The South had a historical legacy of slavery, lynch mobs, the Ku Klux Klan and legal unfairness towards blacks known as Jim Crow laws

The great depression
The Great Depression

  • A worldwide economic downturn starting in America with a major stock market crash on 29th October 1929 which became known as Black Tuesday.

  • Many shares suddenly became worthless and poverty swept the country.

  • The public lost confidence in the economy and spending levels decreased.

  • This resulted in drastically falling production levels and drastically rising unemployment.

Life during the 1930s
Life During the 1930s

The Great Depression sweeps the nation – Many families do not even have money for basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter.

The per capita income for families in Alabama (and Oklahoma) is $125 - $250 a year (£750 in today’s money)

Many southern blacks pick cotton for a living

Franklin D. Roosevelt is President

Legal segregation in alabama 1930s
Legal Segregation in Alabama, 1930s

  • No white female nurses in hospitals that treat black men

  • Separate passenger cars for whites and blacks

  • Separate waiting rooms for whites and blacks

  • Separation of white and black convicts

  • Separate schools

  • No interracial marriages

  • Segregated water fountains

  • Segregated theatres

  • All juries had to be white and male

The scottsboro boys
The Scottsboro Boys

  • Race Relations – the deeply racist White South

    • Nine black teenagers are falsely charged with raping two white women in Scottsboro, Alabama; eight are convicted and sentenced to death

    • The U.S. Supreme Court reverses their convictions because their constitutional rights had been violated

    • The teens are tried for a second time, and are again found guilty

    • The Supreme Court reverses the convictions again

    • Eventually, four of the defendants are freed; the other five serve prison terms

    • The last Scottsboro defendant was paroled in 1950

    • It was virtually impossible for a black to receive a fair trial

The american way
The American Way equality…

Themes equality…


Loss of childhood innocence

Importance of education (esp.moral)

Social inequality


Homework equality…

Complete the TKAM questions you started at the beginning of the year for next week.

Structure equality…

Told by Scout looking back on her childhood and the adult world of Maycomb and the novel is shown through her eyes.

Two narratives – one following the children’s relationship with Boo Radley and the other following Atticus’ defence of Tom Robinson. These are brought together at the end – the story comes full circle and we understand how Jem breaks his elbow.

Social class in the novel
Social Class in the Novel equality…

This is probably similar to how class structure existed during the 1930’s in the South. The wealthy, although fewest in number, were most powerful. The blacks, although great in number, were lowest on the class ladder, and thus, had the least privileges.

Examples of each social class:

Wealthy - Finches

Country Folk - Cunninghams

“White Trash” – Ewells

Black Community – Tom Robinson

Maycomb equality…

Maycomb functions as a microcosm of American society.

Lee spends the first part of the novel detailing the world of the novel and its social milieu without which the reader would not understand the context of the trial which dominates the second part of the novel.

Scout equality…

In groups discuss your first day at primary school – what similarities are there with TKAM?

Scout – Cunninghams are poor

Scout encounters hypocrisy and racism

Scout – fighter – lynch mob + Jem

Atticus’ advice – Chap 9

Grows up – changing attitudes to Boo Radley after encountering the real evil of Bob Ewell

Jean louis finch scout
Jean Louis Finch – “Scout” equality…

  • The story’s narrator – intelligent and thoughtful

  • Although now an adult, Scout looks back at her childhood and tells of the momentous events and influential people of those years.

  • Tomboy – this sets her up as an unusual character in the prim world on Maycomb where women are expected to be ladylike – Aunt Alexandra shows her the value of this without compromising her values.

  • She is a product of her unconventional upbringing by Atticus.

  • The novel follows the development of her conscience and understanding of good and evil - unlike Tom Robinson and Boo Radley, she is not destroyed by her encounters with evil.

  • Her parallel character is Dill – and her education and her moral courage set her up as a sharp contrast to MayellaEwell – Mayella is a a foil to Scout.

Scout finch mini essy
Scout Finch Mini equality…Essy

  • Choose a character from “To Kill a Mockingbird and explain what their role is and what they learn over the course of the novel.

  • Focus on chapters 1-11!

Atticus notes
Atticus Notes equality…

Constant, principled and decent figure – like Mr Cunningham but his education sets him apart.

Single parent in his 50s

Would have seemed very modern to a 1960s readership

A man of courage – fights prejudice. Embodies themes of the novel.

Flaw? – An idealist?

Beliefs in not harming a “mockingbird” and walking in the shoes of others are central to the novel.

Foil = Bob Ewell

Atticus notes1
Atticus Notes equality…

Atticus is scorned in Maycomb for defending Tom Robinson – a sign of the times – but his moral courage makes him admired following this.

Recognises good and evil in people and teaches sympathy for others to his children.

Able to reconcile his honesty and principles with a love for the people of Maycomb.

The children view him as old and “feeble” but the incident with the mad dog shows Atticus’ strength under pressure.

Atticus equality…

"Thank you from the bottom of my heart, but I don't want my boy starting out with something like this over his head. Best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open. Let the county come and bring sandwiches. I don't want him growing up with a whisper about him, I don't want anybody saying, 'Jem Finch... his daddy paid a mint to get him out of that.' Sooner we get this over with the better." (30.34)

Mini essay question
Mini Essay Question equality…

Examine the ways in which Atticus Finch is the hero of “To Kill A Mockingbird”

- To his children

To Tom Robinson and the black community

To wider society (what values does he have we can all admire?)

Symbolism equality…

  • The Mockingbird: Symbolizes Everything That is Good and innocent but attacked by evil

    • The mockingbird only sings to please others and therefore it is considered a sin to shoot a mockingbird. They are considered harmless creatures who give joy with their song.

    • “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but . . . sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” - Miss Maudie - Chap 10

The mockingbird as a symbol
The mockingbird as a symbol equality…

After Tom Robinson is shot, Mr. Underwood compares his death to “the senseless slaughter of songbirds,” - Chap 25

At the end of the book Scout thinks that hurting Boo Radley would be like “shootin’ a mockingbird.” - Chap 30

That Jem and Scout’s last name is Finch (another type of small bird) indicates that they are particularly vulnerable in the racist world of Maycomb, which often treats the fragile innocence of childhood harshly.

Atticus said to Jem one day, "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

The radley house
The equality…Radley House

Isolated from its community and the neighbourhood

Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough. Chap 31

In many ways symbolises the prejudice of the community. Until Scout stands on the porch and puts herself literally in Boo’s line of vision, she cannot truly understand him.

The mad dog
The Mad Dog equality…

The dog can be seen to represent evil and lawlessness.

Atticus shoots the dog dead, as he stops the lynch mob, calmly and coolly.

Scout expects the same thing to happen when watching the jury return to give their verdict.

The mad dog the courtroom
The mad dog/the courtroom equality…

The feeling grew until the atmosphere in the courtroom was exactly the same as a cold February morning, when the mockingbirds were still, and the carpenters had stopped hammering on Miss Maudie's new house, and every wood door in the neighborhood was shut as tight as the doors of the Radley Place. A deserted, waiting, empty street, and the courtroom was packed with people. A steaming summer night was no different from a winter morning. […]. I expected Mr. Tate to say any minute, "Take him, Mr. Finch...." Chap 21

Vocabulary for tkam
Vocabulary for TKAM equality…

Bildungsroman – coming of age story

Social stratification – rigid class structure

Aphorism – pithy one liner such as “Cunninghams always pay their debts”

Epiphany – moment of realisation (such as when Scout is standing on the Radleys’ porch)

Incongruous – not in harmony, out of place

Satire in tkam
Satire in TKAM equality…

Part of Harper Lee’s style is her use of humour when dealing with the serious subject matter of TKMB.

This fits in with the narrative style as the story is told through Scout’s eyes, giving a childlike playfulness to the story.

Satire = when human vices are held up to be scorned in a humorous or ironic way.

Perhaps a link to the title? Lee is mocking education, small-town America and racists.

The satire is subtle
The satire is subtle equality…

In Chapters 23-25, the author is attacking and ridiculing the mindset of a group of people.  However, Harper Lee doesn’t have Scout say that these individuals are stupid, prejudiced or hypocritical; Scout simply repeats what they say, and, from the context of the whole story, the reader knows that the narrator is speaking with an ironic tone.

Examples of satire
Examples of satire equality…

Scout and Miss Caroline – Scout is chastised for being too educated: "We don't write in the first grade, we print. You won't learn to write until you're in the third grade"

Aunt Alexandra and class - she is the contrast to Atticus - she is unable to look past family traits and see the positive traits in families such as the Cunninghams – consider her horror at Scout and Jem bringing home Walter Cunningham – her clashes with Scout over the need to be a lady bring humour to the novel

- Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches; when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn't supposed to be doing things that required pants. Aunt Alexandra's vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father's lonely life. Chap 9

Examples of satire1
Examples of satire equality…

The missionary circle – the concern for the poverty of the Mrunas yet ignore the poverty in their own town.

Miss Merriweather’s lack of insight about her black servants and how reliant she is on them. Plus she congratulates herself on her religious values, despite her apparent lack of Christian ethics "I tell you, Gertrude, you never ought to let an opportunity go by to witness for the Lord."

Miss Gates and Hitler (Chap 26)

“We are a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship. Dictator-ship,” she said. “Over here we don’t believe in persecuting anybody.” – compared to her comments on black people following Tom’s trial - “it’s time somebody taught ‘em a lesson, they were gettin’ way above themselves, an’ the next thing they think they can do is marry us.”

Dramatic irony when you know what the character does not
Dramatic irony (when you know what the character does not) equality…

Used by Lee to build suspense, and to emphasise Scout’s childlike innocence.

E.g. When the reader knows, unlike Scout and Jem, what the lynch mob’s true intentions are and these appear more sinister as a result of the dramatic irony.

Atticus being unaware that Jem and Scout are watching the trial.

Scout being unaware of the implications of the conversation between Heck Tate and Atticus following Bob Ewell’s death.

Tkam as allegory
TKAM as allegory equality…

Think about the story of the snowman in TKAM, Jem and Mrs Dubose’s flowers and the incident with the mad dog.

What do you think it represents?

Allegory is a story which also functions on a symbolic level.

Foreshadowing equality…

Jem’s broken arm

Burris Ewell

The snowman

The fire – which melts the snowman

The mad dog

Presents in the tree/Boo puts a blanket around Scout

“It was Miss Stephanie’s pleasure to tell us:   this morning Bob Ewell stopped Atticus on the post office corner, spat in his face, and told him he’d get him if it took the rest of his life” – Bob Ewell makes his intentions clear.

“Thus began our longest journey together” /“This was the stillness before a thunderstorm”as Scout and Jem walk home before being attacked by Bob Ewell. The mockingbird also sings.

Use of tone in tkam
Use of tone in TKAM equality…

This will change depending on where we are in the novel but some good words to use to describe the tone are:


The tone will become more suspenseful/tense towards the climax(the verdict of Tom Robinson’s trial).

Techniques equality…

  • Characterisation (protagonist and antagonist)

  • Plot (and subplot)

  • Structure

  • Themes

  • Setting

  • Symbolism

  • Use of language/dialogue (character’s accents etc)

  • Climax

  • Denouement

  • Narrative style

  • Humour

  • Irony

  • Satire

  • Tone

  • Allegory

  • Conflict

  • Foreshadowing

  • Foil

Example p e a r paragraph
Example P.E.A.R paragraph equality…

(P)Lee is convincing in her use of the literary convention of the bildungsroman which brings to life the novel’s central concern that childhood innocence must give way to adult realism. Following the trial, Jem angrily questions Atticus as to why the adults show an apparent lack of emotion to the unfairness of Tom Robinson’s conviction to which Atticus responds in a way that echoes this theme(E) “I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it – seems that only children weep. Good night." It becomes apparent in that moment that the townspeople leave the courtroom in a “cheerful” manner that part of Jem’s childhood innocence is destroyed as he has been faced by the ugly, casual racism and callousness of the community he lives in. (A) By his use of the parallel sentence structure and repetition here Lee uses the character of Atticus to emphasise the cyclical nature of racism – that the ignorance of the community has become so entrenched it has become second-nature. Lee uses Jem’s sense of outrage to mirror that of the reader’s at this point, and contrasts this with Atticus’ resignation that “They’ll do it again” which resonates with the reader. Tom Robinson is not an isolated case, his treatment o is symptomatic of a society that fails to meet the basic American ideals of equality and is happy in its ignorance. In the context of the novel, Jem’s experience clearly highlights the human condition itself, which can be summed up as the passage from innocence to experience. (R) It is only when the children have seen injustice that they accept life is not always fair. Lee leaves the reader pondering the fact that is not enough to close our eyes to injustice and racism, we must address it or risk becoming one of the ignorant townspeople of Maycomb.

Example question
Example question equality…

  • Choose a novel in which a main character is seen to grow or mature in the course of the story.

  • Show how the novelist engages your interest in the character and his or her development.

  • In your answer you must refer closely to the text and to at least two of: characterisation, narrative point of view, key incident(s), structure or any other appropriate feature.

Timed essay question
Timed essay question equality…

Choose a novel which slowly reveals the strengths of the main character.

Show how the writer achieves the revelation and go on to demonstrate how it contributes to the overall theme of the text.

Essay question 2006 paper
Essay Question – 2006 paper equality…

Choose a novel, set in a time different from your own, with a theme relevant to the world today.

Show how you are led to an appreciation of the theme’s continuing relevance, despite its setting in time.