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To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee. Introduction. To Kill a Mockingbird is a largely autobiographical novel by Harper Lee. Biography -the story of someone’s life Autobiography - story of someone’s life, told by that person. Harper Lee. Born Nelle Harper Lee, April 28, 1926

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  • To Kill a Mockingbird is a largely autobiographical novel by Harper Lee.
  • Biography-the story of someone’s life
  • Autobiography- story of someone’s life, told by that person
about the author
Harper Lee

Born Nelle Harper Lee, April 28, 1926

Grew up during the Great Depression

Grew up in Monroeville, Alabama, in the heart of the South, where racial tension was high

Her own childhood mirrors that of the character “Scout”

In 1960, she published her only novel-To Kill a Mockingbird

It received a Pulitzer Prize for literature in 1961

About the Author
life during the 1930 s
Life During the 1930’s
  • Race Relations
    • 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 2nd time and found guilty.
    • The SC reverses their conviction 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 person to receive a fair trial
life during the 1930 s1
Life during the 1930’s
  • The Great Depression sweeps the nation-Many families do not have enough money for basic needs.
  • The per capita income for families in Ala. is $125-$250 a year.
  • Many southern blacks pick cotton for a living.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt is President.
  • Hitler is chancellor of Germany and believes that Jews, African Americans and other races are inferior to Anglo-Saxons.
legal segregation in alabama 1923 1940
Legal Segregation in Alabama, 1923-1940
  • 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 black and white convicts
  • Separate schools
  • No interracial marriages
  • Segregated water fountains
  • Segregated theaters
morphine a southern lady s drug
Morphine: A Southern Lady’s Drug
  • 1930’s Typical Morphine Addict
    • White female
    • Middle-aged or older
    • Widowed
    • Homebound
    • Lives in the south
    • Property owner
    • Began using morphine for medicinal reasons
    • In To Kill a Mockingbird, the Finch children will come into contact with Mrs. Dubose. She personifies the American morphine addicts of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
narrative point of view
Narrative Point of View
  • To Kill a Mockingbird is told in the first person, from the point of view of Scout
  • The story is not told by the younger Scout. It is told by an older Scout looking back.
autobiographical elements harper lee vs scout finch
Born in Monroeville, Alabama

Grew up in the 1930’s

Father was a lawyer

Mother’s maiden name=Finch

Born in Maycomb, Alabama

Grew up in the 1930’s

Father (Atticus) is a lawyer

Last name=Finch

Autobiographical Elements:Harper Lee vs. Scout Finch
setting of tkam
Setting of TkaM

Setting is a very strong element in TkaM. It is linked with theme, character, and plot.

Time: 1930’s, Great Depression era

  • Economic difficulties of this time caused problems for all classes of people
  • There was a sharp division between blacks and whites

Place: Maycomb, Alabama (1933-1935)-Alabama is renown as a site of racial tension; Southerners in Maycomb continued to believe in white supremacy

what is a theme
What is a theme?

Theme: The main idea or meaning of a work.




Social snobbery



Need for conscience





Need for compassion

key issues
Key Issues
  • Tom Robinson’s innocence
  • Atticus’ hidden courage
  • Mob mentality
  • Social classes
  • Mrs. Dubose’s morphine addiction
  • Jem’s maturity
  • Jem and Scout’s experiences with Boo Radley
jean louise finch scout
Jean Louise Finch…”Scout”
  • Six when the story begins
  • Naturally curious about life
  • Tomboy
  • Impulsive
  • Emotional
  • Warm and friendly
  • Sensitive
  • Gains in maturity in the novel
atticus finch
Atticus Finch
  • Father of Scout and Jem
  • A widower
  • An attorney by profession
  • Highly respected
  • Good citizen
  • Instills good values/morals in his children
  • His children call him “Atticus”
  • Honest
  • Brave
  • Courteous
  • Soft-spoken
  • Typical Southern gentleman
jem finch
Jem Finch
  • Scout’s older brother
  • 10 at the beginning of the novel and 13 at the end
  • Very wise for his age
  • Very emotional
  • More easy-going and not as adventurous as Scout
  • The Finch’s black housekeeper
  • Has watched the children since their mother’s death
  • Has been a positive influence on the children
arthur boo radley
Arthur “Boo” Radley
  • An adult man, whose father has “sentenced” him to a lifetime confinement to their house because of some mischief he got into when he was a teenager
  • Has a reputation of being a lunatic
  • Basically a harmless, well-meaning person
  • Sometimes childlike in behavior
  • Starving for love and affection
tom robinson
Tom Robinson
  • A young, harmless, innocent, hardworking black man
  • Has a crippled left hand
  • Married with three children
  • Works on a farm belonging to Link Deas, a white man
  • Will be falsely accused of raping a white girl
  • A close friend of Jem and Scout
  • Usually lives in Maycomb only during the summer with his aunt
  • Tell “big stories”
  • Has been deprived of love and affection
aunt alexandra
Aunt Alexandra
  • Atticus’ sister
  • Wishes to make Scout behave like a “lady”
  • Doesn’t approve of Atticus defending a black man
  • Concerned how Finch family is seen in the community
two poor white families
Two Poor White Families

The Cunninghams

  • Poor white family
  • Hard-working
  • Honest
  • Proud
  • Survive on very little
  • Always pay back their debts-even with hickory nuts, turnips, or holly

The Ewells

  • Poor white trash
  • Dirty
  • Lazy
  • Good-for-nothing
  • Never have done a day’s work
  • Foul-mouthed
  • Dishonest
  • Immoral
the black community




God fearing


Would never take anything without paying it back


Had stronger character than most whites



Discriminated against

Talked about badly

Deserve better than what is dished out to them by society

The Black Community
  • Sometimes the language of Scout will be that of her as a child; other times, she will be speaking in the voice of an adult
  • Atticus uses formal speech
  • Calpurnia uses “white language” in the Finch house and switches to “black jargon” when amidst blacks
  • The Ewells use foul words and obscenities
  • Jem, Scout, and Dill will use slang words, typical of their age
  • Tom Robinson uses language typical of the southern black such as “suh” for “sir” and “chillun” for “children”
  • Various derogatory terms will be used-Lee uses such language to keep her novel naturally in sync with the common language of the times
  • Somber
  • Serious
  • Humorous (at times)
  • The Mockingbird symbolizes everything that is good and harmless in this world.
  • It only sings to please others and therefore is considered a sin to shoot the mockingbird. They are considered harmless creatures who give joy with their songs.
  • The mockingbird image/symbol appears four times in the novel.
  • Only two characters in the novel symbolize the mockingbird.