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An Introduction to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

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1 An Introduction to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird

2 Harper Lee  Born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama; youngest of four children; Lee’s father was a lawyer, like the protagonist of TKAM (ahh, a new abbreviation!)  Submitted original manuscript for her novel in late 1950’s after moving to NYC to pursue writing; spent several years re-working it  1960* – To Kill a Mockingbird published; though not based on a specific town, according to Lee, there was a similar incident (race-based rape accusation) in her town growing up. * Why is this decade significant, given the subject matter?

3 Harper Lee  TKAM won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize  Two Years Later, the book was made into an Oscar-winning film (yes, we will watch)  1966 - was one of two persons named by President Johnson to the National Council of Arts  2007 – presented with Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush

4 TKAM: SETTING Maycomb, ALABAMA The 1930’s

5 TKAM: Main Characters  Scout (Jean Louise Finch) – 6-8 year-old narrator of story; daughter of the lawyer at the center of the trial  Atticus Finch – Jem and Scout’s father, a widower, and prominent Maycomb lawyer who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman  Jem (Jeremy Finch) – Scout’s older brother  Arthur (Boo) Radley –recluse who lives next door; center of the kids’ imaginations: is he creepy or virtuous?  Charles Baker (Dill) Harris – Jem and Scout’s friend who comes to visit his aunt in Maycomb each summer  Tom Robinson – a black man, field-hand, accused of raping a white woman  Calpurnia – the Finches’ black cook; stern; serves as the kids’ bridge between white and black communities

6 Living in a World of Discrimination A cafe near the tobacco market. (Signs: Separate doors for "White" and for "Colored.“) North Carolina, 1940

7 TKAM: Major Themes Social Inequality… Importance of Moral Education… Good and Evil Exist…


9 "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

10 Reflecting on What We’ve Read so far… Chapters 1-4 In your journal, answer the following questions: 1.A s the novel begins, we are introduced to the town of Maycomb and its inhabitants through the recollections of the narrator, Jean Louise Finch (Scout). a) What does Scout tell us about the history of the town? What is life like there when Scout is growing up? b) What do we learn about the history of Scout’s family? How is this history linked with that of Maycomb? c) Briefly relate the history of the Radleys. What do you find odd about them? In what ways do the Radleys differ from the Finches? 2.D ill’s curiosity about Boo Radley sparks a series of attempted encounters with this mysterious, invisible neighbour. Examine each of the following “encounters” with Boo, and answer the questions below: tttthe dare tttthe runaway tire tttthe new game a) What do the children find so fascinating about Boo Radley? b) What is the children’s motive in each of these incidents? c) What evidence is given to illustrate that their actions are not going unnoticed?

11 Reflections for further ahead… As you are reading the novel for the first time, make entries in your journal at the points indicated below in response to the questions asked. Feel free to write other thoughts and feelings about other parts of the novel as you are reading! 1.After finishing chapter 11, give your opinion of Atticus. Would you like to have him as a father? 2.As you finish chapter 13, record your reaction to Aunt Alexandra. What will the relationship between her and Scout be like, in your opinion? 3.In chapter 14, Dill explains to Scout why he ran away. Have you ever felt like this? 4.Describe your feelings at the end of chapter 22. Was this the verdict you expected? 5.Write down your immediate feelings after finishing the novel.

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