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To Kill a Mockingbird: Literary Analysis Elizabeth Capron

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To Kill a Mockingbird: Literary Analysis Elizabeth Capron

By Harper Lee Period 2

The Plot

The novel starts out in the Alabama town of Maycomb, where Scout, Jem and their widowed father, lawyer Atticus Finch, lived during the Great Depression. During one of their summers, Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill who came to live in their neighborhood for the summer. While playing, Jem and Scout tell Dill of the spooky house on their street called the Radley Place. Nathan Radley owns the house, and his brother Arthur (known as "Boo") lives there also. Boo becomes a person of legend to the children as he has stayed inside the house for years without ever been seen coming out.

After their summer had ended, Scout goes to school for the first time. At the end of the day she concludes that she hates school, in that her teacher explained that she was taught incorrectly how to read by her father and that she cannot read anymore. On their way home from school, Jem and Scout discover gifts left for them in the knothole of a tree on the Radley property. Dill returns the next summer, and they begin to play pretend games that enact the story of Boo Radley. Atticus learns of this new game, and puts a stop to it, saying that they need to see it from Boo's perspective before judging him. But towards the end of summer, the three trespass on the Radley property and are shot at by Nathan Radley. In their hustle to escape, Jem loses his pants while scrambling underneath a wire fence. When he goes back to retrieve it, the pants are found mended and folded over the fence. During the next school year Jem and Scout find more presents in the tree, and suspect that Boo might be the person giving it to them. But later, Nathan Radley seals the knothole with cement. Shortly afterwards, a fire breaks out in the neighborhood, and while the children watch their neighbor's house burn, Boo slips a blanket over Scout without them noticing. Jem then tells Atticus about the gifts and the mended pants.

Meanwhile, Atticus agrees to defend an African-American man, Tom Robinson, in a case against Bob and Mayella Ewell who are accusing Robinson of rape. In the racist white society of Maycomb, the children are teased and harassed at school and even at Finch's landing during their family Christmas celebration. The children then visit a local black church with their nanny, Calpurnia, and become friends with many of the people there.

Then, one day when the children came home, they found that their aunt Alexandra has come to live with them during the next summer. And Dill is found hiding under Scout's bed because he had ran away from his "new father" from another town and into Maycomb to be with the Finches. As Tom Robinson trial begins, a mob of racist white men attempt to lynch Tom in a local jail, where they are intercepted by Atticus. The children, curious to know where and what Atticus is doing, interrupt the scene and in an attempt to be polite and friendly, Scout tries to talk to one of the men in the mob, Mr. Walter Cunningham. In this act of innocence, Cunningham disperses the mob.

At the courthouse, Robinson's trial begins as the children watch from the balcony. At the witness stand, Atticus interrogates Mayella, and obtains solid evidence of Tom Robinson's innocence. Mayella became infatuated with Tom, and in one event of their meeting, she attacks Tom in her desire of him. Bob Ewell catches the two, and beats her for being involved with a black man. To cover up her shame, they lie and accuse Robinson of rape. Despite all the facts, the all-white jury declared Tom guilty. Later, Tom attempts to escape from prison and is lethally shot.

After the trial, Bob Ewell is convinced that although he won the case, Atticus and the judge made a fool out of him. Blind with revenge, Bob stalks Tom Robinson's window, attempts to break into the judge's house, and when the children were returning home from a Halloween party, he attacks them. Luckily, Boo Radley comes to Jem and Scout's rescue, and in the struggle, Boo lethally stabs Ewell. Jem (who was injured and knocked unconscious) is carried back to his home, and the sheriff, in order to protect Boo, declares that Ewell, while walking, tripped and fell upon his own knife. Meanwhile, Boo and Scout sit together for awhile, and afterwards, Boo retreats to the Radley house.

Structure

The Novel is organized into 31 chapters and pages. The techniques that are used in the book are mainly chronological order but there are parts in the story where flashback is used. For instance, when Scout recalls her Uncle Jack's visit to their house, she is remembering a past event. Foreshadowing is also used in events that occur in the novel, like when Atticus shoots the diseased dog (which foreshadows Tom Robinson's death).

Point of View

Scout Finch, the protagonist, tells her story in the first person. In the beginning of the book, Scout is innocent and naпve, which is shown in her narration. Over the progression of the novel, Scout slowly loses this innocence and narrates in an almost dark and critical sense. Scout looks back in past experiences in retrospect, stating her senses (hear, touch, smell, sight and taste) as well as analyzing Jem's actions and emotions. Later in the book, she humorously recalls her innocence, thoughts and actions as a younger girl.

Characters

The characters portrayed in To Kill a Mockingbird are a convincing cast of southerners during the Great Depression. Their actions, attitudes and beliefs contain the stereotypical southern perspectives of racism, family pride, simplicity etc. However, some characters breach these stereotypes in their personal opinion and moral values. There are 3 major characters (Scout, Jem and Atticus) and about 16 minor characters. The protagonist is Scout Finch, and the antagonist is Bob Ewell (although is actual antagonist may be the evil side of human nature). The minor characters play an important part in the story in that they represent the good and evil in humankind (e.g. Boo Radley and Bob Ewell).

One character, Miss. Maudie Atkinson, lives in the children's neighborhood and is one of their most trusted friends. She is sharp-tongued, witty, and compassionate and is almost the same age as Uncle Jack (though her age isn't specifically mentioned in the novel). Miss. Maudie shares the same passion for justice as Atticus,

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