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The story is set in the (late) thirties, while it was written in 1960. So the time the story was set in, is in the past. The dates are never exactly mentioned in the book, but at a certain point, Adolf Hitler is discussed. They mention the things Hitler does (at that specific moment), and if it's a bad thing. So from this, I gather that this is happening in the late thirties.
The story takes about two and a half years. You can't exactly say how long it took, but we know Scout (the main character) ended up in the third grade, while at the beginning of the book, she was in the first.
The place the story is set in, is a little town called Maycomb. Maycomb lies in Alabama, in the US. In Maycomb (and all over Alabama that time) there was a huge difference between the coloured people, and the white folks. They lived separate, had different types of work. And besides that, the white folks thought the coloured folks were trash (although not everybody was like that). A lot of the coloured people were working for the white folks, as gardener, or to look after their children. The kind of jobs, you don't want yourself.
Jem and Scout Finch are the children of a lawyer Atticus. They are a welrespected family in the little town of Maycomb, Alabama. Jem and Scout are living the ordinary live of young children. But a major change appears when their father, Atticus, agrees to defend a man called Tom Robinson. Tom Robinson is a negro, accused for the rape of a young white girl. Most of the white folks of Maycomb don't like the fact that a white man, defends a coulered, so the family Finch aren't welrespected any longer.
Atticus doesn't succeed in freeing Tom Robinson, and Robinson is send to a workfarm. There, Robinson tries to escape, and is shot in the back. The accuser of Robinson, Bob Ewell (the father of teh raped girl), is still not satisfied. One night, he tries to murder Jem and Scout, when they are on their way back home. Arthur "Boo" radley saves them, and Ewell is stabbed in the chest with a knife.
Jean Louise Finch (Scout): Scout is the main character of the story. In fact, she's the one who is telling us the story. She's six years old, at the beginning of the story. She quite childish (which is completely normal for someone her age), but this gives us a childish look on the story.
Scout is also quite boylike; she likes to wear overalls, and isn't scare dof a fistfight. She has quite a good relationship with her brother, Jem, until Jem reaches puberty.
It's also quite obvious why she's a main character. It's her tale, she telling the storyâ€¦
Jem Finch is our second main character. Jem is short for Jeremy. Jem is Scouts brother (he is four years her senior), and he's a bit like a guarding angels for Scout.
Jem's a normal kid, he likes playing football, likes to hang out with his friends (altough he hasn't got many), and doesn't listen to his teachers. He's also quite fond of Atticus, who is a sort of model to him.
Jem is main character, because he is an important part of the story. He's quite often together with Scout, so therefore, he's a main character.
The minor characters of the story are: Atticus Finch, Aunt Alexandra, Miss Maudie, Calpurnia, Dill and Boo Radley (although his appearence is only about 3 pages).
This book is about racism, but also about the development of a child. Actually, it's a mixture of those two. The story tells us that not all negroes are bad, and not all white people are good. It also says you can't convict people who are innocent, and that that's a sin (in this case Tom Robinson)
But you also get a good look at the innocence of a child, and what certain experiences can do to a child (how it can change their mindset).
I think Lee wrote this book purely for entertainment. That doesn't mean that there can't be a concealed message in it. I think "to kill a mockingbird" is the most important metaphor in the book. They say that killing a mockingbird is a sin, and in the story, a mockingbird is a metaphor for Tom Robinson. So in a way, it's a sin to convict Robinson, what would lead him to his death.
Atticus mentioned this to Scout. They discussed killing mockingbird with their new rifles, and that it's a bad thing. Then the connection with Robinson was made.
B. Your opinion:
The two characters I liked most, were Atticus and Jem. They were both very protective towards Scout, especially Jem. Jem was always there for Scout (only at school time he was with his other friends), always watching for danger. A good example is when Scout and Jem are attacked by Bob Ewell; even when Jems arm is badly broken, he still tries to fight Ewell, to protect his little sister.
Atticus, on the other hand, is extremely nice towards everybody, even people who have deeply insulted him.He never wants to hear a bad word about anybody. For example: Cunningham had the intend to harm/kill Atticus. Still when Scout says she'll beat up Walter Cunningham (Cunningham's son), Atticus said she could't, because they are nice people.
I disliked aunt Alexandra and of course Bob Ewell. Alexandra is the type of person that always tells you what to do, even if it ain't her own children. She's very fond of herself, and kinda thinks the world's all about her. But I also think that she ain't got a bad heart. When Atticus needs her most, and the children need her most, she was there.
Bob Ewell does have a bad heart. He beats up his own children, while accusing someone else for it. Then he makes a lawsuit out of it, just to see a negro go to jail. When whole of the town knew he lied (although Robinson was convicted), he tries to kill two innocent children, just because their father defended a negro. I think it ain't very hard to dislike a person like this.
I felt disgusted by the way some people behave towards negroes. Everybody knew Robinson was innocent, but still they convicted him, just because a negro can't win a lawsuit from a white man. That's just cruel.
On the other hand I was astonished by the way the book was written. I thought it was great; al the little metaphors, funny little jokes, and an beautiful way Lee told the story through the eyes of a child.
"When I pointed to him his palms slipped slightly, leaving greasy sweat streaks on the wall, and he hooked his thumbs in his belt. A strange small spasm shook him, as if he heard fingernails scrape slate, but as I gazed at him in wonder the tension slowly drained from his face. His lips parted into a timid smile, and our neighbor's image blurred with my sudden tears.
'Hey, Boo,' I said."
This is the point where Scout finally meets Boo Radley. At summertime, Jem, Dill and Scout are trying to get Boo Radley out of his house. Boo Radley is a man, who never comes out of his house, because he is mentally ill. The 3 children are kinda scared of him, but it gives them a rush to try to get him out. Of course, they don't succeed.
I think this is the emotional climax of the book. After all of the awful, scary things Scout seen, this is the limit. She isn't scared of Boo anymore, and she understands why he stays in. Besides that, as a reader you fully understand the situation, and why this is so important to her.
What Lee wanted to tell us, is that killing a mockingbird is a sin. She makes this quite clear, and so I fully agree with her statement. She wrote the story at a beautiful way, something that certainly helps in conveying someone. So yes, she did convey me.
At part A5 I exactly wrote how the writer made this message clear.
I do think this is an important message. Nowadays, it is still a greatly discussed subject. But by now, all people are equal, and that time, they weren't. But I think it's important that all people are equal.
If I would got the honor to meet Mrs. Lee, I would ask her only one thing: Why did she call the book "To Kill a Mockingbird"? I think this is too obvious. I don't really like the books who got a literally title. That's kinda boring.
C. The summary:
To Kill a Mockingbird is primarily a novel about growing up under extraordinary circumstances in the 1930s in the Southern United States. The story covers a span of three years, during which the main characters undergo significant changes. Scout Finch lives with her brother Jem and their father Atticus in the fictitious town of Maycomb, Alabama. Maycomb is a small, close-knit town, and every family has its social station depending on where they live, who their parents are, and how long their ancestors have lived in Maycomb.
A widower, Atticus raises his children by himself, with the help of kindly neighbors and a black housekeeper named Calpurnia. Scout and Jem almost instinctively understand the complexities and machinations of their neighborhood and town. The only neighbor who puzzles them is the mysterious Arthur Radley, nicknamed Boo, who never comes outside. When Dill, another neighbor's nephew, starts spending summers in Maycomb, the three children begin an obsessive - and sometimes perilous - quest to lure Boo outside.
Scout is a tomboy who prefers the company of boys and generally solves her differences with her fists. She tries to make sense of a world that demands that she act like a lady, a brother who criticizes her for acting like a girl, and a father who accepts her just as she is. Scout hates school, gaining her most valuable education on her own street and from her father.
Not quite midway through the story, Scout and Jem discover that their father is going to represent a black man named Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping and beating a white woman. Suddenly, Scout and Jem have to tolerate a barrage of racial slurs and insults because of Atticus' role in the trial. During this time, Scout has a very difficult time restraining from physically fighting with other children, a tendency that gets her in trouble with her Aunt Alexandra and Uncle Jack. Even Jem, the older and more levelheaded of the two, loses his temper a time or two. After responding to a neighbor's (Mrs. Dubose) verbal attack by destroying her plants, Jem is sentenced to read to her every day after school for one month. Ultimately, Scout and Jem learn a powerful lesson about bravery from this woman. As the trial draws nearer, Aunt Alexandra comes to live with them under the guise of providing a feminine influence for Scout.
During the novel's last summer, Tom is tried and convicted even though Atticus proves that Tom could not have possibly committed the crime of which he is accused. In the process of presenting Tom's case, Atticus inadvertently insults and offends Bob Ewell, a nasty, lazy drunkard whose daughter is Tom's accuser. In spite of Tom's conviction, Ewell vows revenge on Atticus and the judge for besmirching his already tarnished name. All three children are bewildered by the jury's decision to convict; Atticus tries to explain why the jury's decision was in many ways a foregone conclusion.
Shortly after the trial, Scout attends one of her aunt's Missionary Society meetings. Atticus interrupts the meeting to report that Tom Robinson had been killed in an escape attempt. Scout learns valuable lessons about achieving the ideal of womanhood and carrying on in the face of adversity that day.
Things slowly return to normal in Maycomb, and Scout and Jem realize that Boo Radley is no longer an all-consuming curiosity. The story appears to be winding down, but then Bob Ewell starts making good on his threats of revenge. Scout is in the Halloween pageant at school, playing the part of a ham. With Atticus and Aunt Alexandra both too tired to attend, Jem agrees to take Scout to the school. After embarrassing herself on-stage, Scout elects to leave her ham costume on for the walk home with Jem.
On the way home, the children hear odd noises, but convince themselves that the noises are coming from another friend who scared them on their way to school that evening. Suddenly, a scuffle occurs. Scout really can't see outside of her costume, but she hears Jem being pushed away, and she feels powerful arms squeezing her costume's chicken wire against her skin. During this attack, Jem badly breaks his arm. Scout gets just enough of a glimpse out of her costume to see a stranger carrying Jem back to their house.
The sheriff arrives at the Finch house to announce that Bob Ewell has been found dead under the tree where the children were attacked, having fallen on his own knife. By this time, Scout realizes that the stranger is none other than Boo Radley, and that Boo is actually responsible for killing Ewell, thus saving her and Jem's lives. In spite of Atticus' insistence to the contrary, the sheriff refuses to press charges against Boo. Scout agrees with this decision and explains her understanding to her father. Boo sees Jem one more time and then asks Scout to take him home, but rather than escort him home as though he were a child, she has Boo escort her to his house as a gentleman would.
With Boo safely home, Scout returns to Jem's room where Atticus is waiting. He reads her to sleep and then waits by Jem's bedside for his son to wake up.
The didn't quite end as I expected. It was a really surprising, time after time. You couldn't predict how it would end, and what would happen, but that's only better. It makes the story more exciting.
I think I spend about 12-15 hours, reading the book. It was quite complicated from time to time.
I thought it was a really enjoyable book. It is beautifully written, and the development of the characters is great. The story, told through the eyes of an innocent child, was amazing. I could recommend this book.