To Kill a Mockingbird

“To Kill a Mockingbird” Analysis
Brenn Alexander
Husson University

Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird was published in the 1960s, when the civil rights movement was growing and striving to attain equal rights for African-Americans. During this period, racial segregation and discrimination were commonplace throughout the United States, particularly in the Southern states. Although civil rights activity was widespread when Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee chose instead to set the novel during the 1930s in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama.   The story is narrated by a six year old girl named Jean Louise Finch or "Scout". Scout lives with her older brother Jem and her father Atticus Finch, a widowed lawyer. To the children, Atticus is a friend, confidant, teacher and an authority. The children are both terrified and fascinated by their mysterious neighbor, Arthur "Boo" Radley, a recluse who rarely leaves his house. In the novel, Atticus Finch is considered to be upstanding and unbiased, he is appointed to defend a black farm worker named Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a young white woman. While the reader is shown Tom Robinson's humanity and point of view through the actions of Atticus Finch, the majority of the white population see Tom Robinson as just an inferior with no rights. Atticus is scorned by many of the towns citizens because he believes that a black man should have the same rights as a white man. During the trial Atticus disproves the accusations against Tom Robinson. But the white jury follows the unwritten law of never believing a black man's word over a white's and declares Tom Robinson guilty. As Tom then desperately attempts to break out of prison he is shot and killed.
The issue of racial prejudice is primarily introduced into the novel through Lee’s depiction of both black and white characters. It is through the manner in which these characters interact that Lee reveals how human...