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To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee Background to the Novel.

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2 To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee Background to the Novel

3 SETTING OF THE NOVEL Alabama 1930’s –Great Depression –Prejudice –Legal segregation –Ignorance


5 America in the 1930s WWI was over – WWII had not yet started Stock market crashed in 1929 Franklin D. Roosevelt becomes President in October 1932

6 1930’s - Great Depression Stock Market Crash – October 1929 Businesses failed and factories closed –People were out of work –Even people with money suffered because nothing was being produced for sale. Poor people lost their homes, were forced to “live off the land.”


8 Statistics Population: 123,188,000 in 48 states Life Expectancy: Male, 58.1; Female, 61.6 Average salary: $1,368 Unemployment rises to 25% Food Prices: Milk – 14 cents a quart Bread – 9 cents a loaf Round Steak – 42 cents a pound

9 Prices in 1930 $100 Converted from 1930 to 2005 it would be equivalent to $1204 Average new house – $7,145.00 Average income per year – $1,970.00 Gallon of gas –10 cents Average new car – $640.00

10 Fashion

11 Jim Crow Laws Slavery ended in 1864 but racial prejudice was alive and well Jim Crow Laws referred to the legal separation of races Blacks were not protected from discrimination by individuals or private companies

12 Racial separation (segregation)








20 Gender Bias (Prejudice) Women were considered “weak” Women were generally not educated for occupations outside the home In wealthy families, women were expected to oversee the servants and entertain guests Men not considered capable of nurturing children

21 Social Hierarchy in Alabama 1.Aristocrats - White upper class 2.White middle class 3.White lower class 4.White trash 5.Blacks

22 Aristocrats -White upper class Educated Legitimate claim to “Old South” plantation families. Real Wealth

23 White middle Class White Some education Property owners White Lower Class White Little or no education Sharecroppers/ Farmers

24 Poor White Trash Refused education Often alcoholic Few or no work skills Often had poor work ethic Had the same opportunities as other white classes

25 Blacks Lowest on the social hierarchy Formal public education was prohibited Placed in lowest social class only because of race


27 Legal Issues of the 1930’s Women given the vote in 1920 Juries were MALE and WHITE “Fair trial” did not include acceptance of a black man’s word against a white man’s

28 TO KILL A MOCKINBIRD Prejudice Race Gender Handicaps Rich/Poor Age Religion

29 ~ Characters ~ ▪Atticus Finch ▪Jeremey Atticus “Jem” Finch ▪Jean Louise “Scout” Finch ▪Tom Robinson ▪Arthur “Boo” Radley ▪Miss Maudie Atkinson ▪Charles Baker “Dill” Harris ▪Calpurnia ▪Aunt Alexandra ▪Mayella Ewell

30 Point of View First person –Story is told by Scout, a 10-year-old girl –Harper Lee is actually a woman; Scout represents the author as a little girl although the story is not strictly autobiographical

31 Reading the Novel Setting is all important –be aware of the “where” and “when” as you begin Point of View – the novel is shaped by the voice of a young girl who sees the story from a position of naïve acceptance “Goodness vs. Ignorance (Evil)” is an important theme

32 “If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you crawl into his skin and walk around in it.” – Atticus Finch

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