Harper Lee

Harper Lee, one of the world’s most recognized authors, born April 28, 1926, published her one and only novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” in 1960 at the age of thirty four. The book was an instant hit around the globe selling over thirty million-copies. Lee’s phenomenon was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction only a year after its publication and in 1999 it was voted “Best Novel of the Century” by the Library Journal. Through out the years and around the world, this story has touched the lives of many people. To this day people reference the book including Atticus Finch’s wisdom, Scout’s curiosity or Arthur Radley’s audacity. Many have theories as to what Ms. Lee has been doing with her writing career for the past fifty years. Some think she has been writing for all of these years and will release a bunch of new material before she passes away. Others think she might have taken a different pen name or she just got tired of writing. In an exclusive interview with Bluegrass Special on the fiftieth year anniversary of “To Kill A Mockingbird” she says that she has been working on a novel but it takes a very long time to write. She has no predictions on the publication date but it’s good to know that there will hopefully be more coming!


To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird is an American classic that touches on so many different issues we have had through out history it is almost vital for everyone to it read to have a complete education. In this novel Harper Lee addresses many pressing problems from the era of the great depression but from the perspective of a seven year old girl. Scout Finch, her brother Jem, and their father Atticus all live in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama. In the two years of her life covered in this novel, Scout encounters poverty, racial segregation, prejudice and discrimination, the power of believing and so much more. Scout, Jem and Dill, their neighborhood friend, experience more in the span of two years than some do in a whole life time. Atticus Finch is appointed to be Tom Robinson, a young married negro man’s attorney in his case against Mayella Ewell, a white girl who comes from a family that most would describe as trash, who claims to have been raped by Tom. As the kids experience unexpected things involving the trial and Boo Radley, mysterious man from down the street who never comes out of his house, they feel betrayal, confidence, rage, confusion and much more. Harper Lee cleverly entwines two engaging plots to make one compelling novel that has been read by millions for fifty years already and will be read by millions more in the next fifty to come.


Characters

Scout Finch

-The main character and narrator

-A white girl who lives in Maycomb, Alabama

Jem Finch

-Scout’s older brother and best friend

Atticus Finch

-Scout and Jem’s father

-A lawyer for the town of Maycomb

-Chosen to represent Thomas Robinson

Calpurnia

-The Finch’s colored care taker

Aunt Alexandra

-Atticus’ sister

-Moves in with the Scout, Jem and Atticus

-Has a son, Francis and husband, Jimmy back at Finch landing

Uncle Jack

-Atticus’ brother

-The cool uncle who comes around on holiday

Charles Baker Harris (Dill)

-Scout and Jem’s friend

-Stays with his aunt in Maycomb in the summers

-Scout’s “fiancee”

Miss Rachael

-Dill’s aunt

-Finch’s neighbor

Miss Maudie

-The friendly sensible widow down the street from the Finchs

-Enjoys gardening

Miss Stephanie Crawford

-The town gossip

-A neighbor of the Finch’s

Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose

-The Finch’s sickly elder neighbor

Arthur (Boo) Radley

-The man who lives at the end of the Finch’s street

-Never comes out of his house

-Crazy?

Tom Robinson

-A young married negro man accused of raping Mayella Ewell

Bob Ewell

-The father of the very poor sordid Ewell family

-Drinks most of their money away

-No respect for others

Mayella Ewell

-The young white woman who accused Mr. Robinson of rape

Mr. Heck Tate

-The town sheriff

Judge John Taylor

-The judge for Mr. Robinson trial


Part I


Chapters 1, 2, 3, & 4
In the first chapters Jem and Scout meet Dill for the first time and as soon as he heard about Boo Radley he wanted to get him out of the house to see what he looked like. They spent their summer doing little skits about Boo’s life and daring each other to touch his door. When Dill left for the summer Scout started the first grade with the new teacher, Miss Caroline Fisher. She was from the city and was trying to introduce a new curriculum to the school. Even though she was the teacher, she still had a lot to learn, and she found that out on the first day of school. First she tried to offer Walter Cunningham money for lunch. The Cunninghams were a poor family that worked for everything they had and never accepted charity. The second mistake she made was trying to boss Burris Ewell around. The Ewells were even poorer than the Cunninghams, but unlike the Cunninghams they had no desire to honor their name. They lived in the corner of the city dump, only attended the first day of school to stay away from the law, listened to no one, worked for nothing and the money they did have, the father Bob Ewell, supposedly drank all of it away. After Miss Caroline tried to tell Burris what to do, he insulted her so much that she started to cry. He then left and wasn’t seen at school till the second grade. Scout had a tough year too because she wasn’t suppose to be able to read or write yet and Miss Caroline didn’t like that Atticus was teaching her how. Right before summer came she and Jem discovered the knot hole in the tree on the Radley property that sometimes had little gifts in it like gum or some pennies. When Dill came back to Maycomb for the summer they immediately started planning ways on how to get Boo out of the house.

Chapters 1, 2, 3, & 4

In the first chapters Jem and Scout meet Dill for the first time and as soon as he heard about Boo Radley he wanted to get him out of the house to see what he looked like. They spent their summer doing little skits about Boo’s life and daring each other to touch his door. When Dill left for the summer Scout started the first grade with the new teacher, Miss Caroline Fisher. She was from the city and was trying to introduce a new curriculum to the school. Even though she was the teacher, she still had a lot to learn, and she found that out on the first day of school. First she tried to offer Walter Cunningham money for lunch. The Cunninghams were a poor family that worked for everything they had and never accepted charity. The second mistake she made was trying to boss Burris Ewell around. The Ewells were even poorer than the Cunninghams, but unlike the Cunninghams they had no desire to honor their name. They lived in the corner of the city dump, only attended the first day of school to stay away from the law, listened to no one, worked for nothing and the money they did have, the father Bob Ewell, supposedly drank all of it away. After Miss Caroline tried to tell Burris what to do, he insulted her so much that she started to cry. He then left and wasn’t seen at school till the second grade. Scout had a tough year too because she wasn’t suppose to be able to read or write yet and Miss Caroline didn’t like that Atticus was teaching her how. Right before summer came she and Jem discovered the knot hole in the tree on the Radley property that sometimes had little gifts in it like gum or some pennies. When Dill came back to Maycomb for the summer they immediately started planning ways on how to get Boo out of the house.


Chapter 5, 6, 7, & 8
The next few chapters were about experiencing new things and Boo Radley. Jem and Dill’s friendship grew leaving Scout feeling left out so she talked with Miss Maudie a lot, who answered her questions about the Radley’s. She told Scout that Arthur Radley used to be a good, well behaved boy.Now, he lived with Nathan Radley, his brother, and their Mother, who dies later in the story. The three of them wanted to see Boo so they tried send him a note through the window, inviting him out but Atticus stopped them and told them to leave the poor man alone. To start off chapter six, Jem, Scout and Dill were peeking in the Radley’s window again and made a narrow get-a-way before Nathan Radley started shooting at them. While they were escaping Jem got his pants caught and when he went back to get them later, they were all patched up and waiting for him on the fence. They also found more stuff in the knot hole, some soap figures, gum, a pocket knife and even a watch and chain. They decided to write a note for who ever was giving them all of these things but the next day the whole had been filled by Nathan. They didn’t have much time to think about it though because that year it snowed for in Maycomb country the first time in along time. The day after it snowed, Jem and Scout went around collecting snow to make their first snowman. That night Miss Maudie’s house caught fire. In all of the commotion Scout didn’t realize that someone had put a blanket around her shoulders and that it was put there by none other than Arthur Radley.

Chapter 5, 6, 7, & 8

The next few chapters were about experiencing new things and Boo Radley. Jem and Dill’s friendship grew leaving Scout feeling left out so she talked with Miss Maudie a lot, who answered her questions about the Radley’s. She told Scout that Arthur Radley used to be a good, well behaved boy.Now, he lived with Nathan Radley, his brother, and their Mother, who dies later in the story. The three of them wanted to see Boo so they tried send him a note through the window, inviting him out but Atticus stopped them and told them to leave the poor man alone. To start off chapter six, Jem, Scout and Dill were peeking in the Radley’s window again and made a narrow get-a-way before Nathan Radley started shooting at them. While they were escaping Jem got his pants caught and when he went back to get them later, they were all patched up and waiting for him on the fence. They also found more stuff in the knot hole, some soap figures, gum, a pocket knife and even a watch and chain. They decided to write a note for who ever was giving them all of these things but the next day the whole had been filled by Nathan. They didn’t have much time to think about it though because that year it snowed for in Maycomb country the first time in along time. The day after it snowed, Jem and Scout went around collecting snow to make their first snowman. That night Miss Maudie’s house caught fire. In all of the commotion Scout didn’t realize that someone had put a blanket around her shoulders and that it was put there by none other than Arthur Radley.


Chapters 9, 10, & 11
These chapters were especially hard for Scout and Jem. Everyone judged them because their father was going to be Tom’s lawyer. Kids at school gave them a hard time, called Atticus “a nigger-lover” and taunted them. Even at Christmas, when their Uncle Jack came to town and they got air riffles, their cousin Francis ruined it by saying Atticus was going to wreck the family for protecting a negro. As much as she didn’t want to, Scout was starting to lose confidence in her father and become ashamed of him. Until one day in February when old Tim Johnson, Mr Harry Johnson’s dog, came down their street foaming at the mouth. When Mr. Tate got there and Scout and Jem thought he was going to shoot Tim but at the last second he gave the gun to Atticus. Atticus shot him in one shot, living up to his old name Ol’ One-Shot Finch and restoring the confidence of his kids. They really needed to be believe in something again because in the next months Mrs. Dubose, the old sickly lady from down the street, was especially nasty to them. They managed to take the high road and ignore her for awhile but one day she said Atticus lawed for niggers and trash and that did it. That night Jem cut off all the tops of her camellias. Atticus made him apologize, and Mrs. Dubose said he could make it up to her by reading to her for a month. So for the next month Scout tagged along with Jem to read to Mrs. Dubose. The whole time he was reading she was fighting a morphine addiction and by the end of the month she was able to last a whole reading session without any morphine. Shortly after she died, leaving Jem a box with the top of a perfect camellia.

Chapters 9, 10, & 11

These chapters were especially hard for Scout and Jem. Everyone judged them because their father was going to be Tom’s lawyer. Kids at school gave them a hard time, called Atticus “a nigger-lover” and taunted them. Even at Christmas, when their Uncle Jack came to town and they got air riffles, their cousin Francis ruined it by saying Atticus was going to wreck the family for protecting a negro. As much as she didn’t want to, Scout was starting to lose confidence in her father and become ashamed of him. Until one day in February when old Tim Johnson, Mr Harry Johnson’s dog, came down their street foaming at the mouth. When Mr. Tate got there and Scout and Jem thought he was going to shoot Tim but at the last second he gave the gun to Atticus. Atticus shot him in one shot, living up to his old name Ol’ One-Shot Finch and restoring the confidence of his kids. They really needed to be believe in something again because in the next months Mrs. Dubose, the old sickly lady from down the street, was especially nasty to them. They managed to take the high road and ignore her for awhile but one day she said Atticus lawed for niggers and trash and that did it. That night Jem cut off all the tops of her camellias. Atticus made him apologize, and Mrs. Dubose said he could make it up to her by reading to her for a month. So for the next month Scout tagged along with Jem to read to Mrs. Dubose. The whole time he was reading she was fighting a morphine addiction and by the end of the month she was able to last a whole reading session without any morphine. Shortly after she died, leaving Jem a box with the top of a perfect camellia.


Part II


Chapter 12
In chapter twelve, Jem and Scout got to go to church with Calpurnia. When they got there, Scout noticed that everyone spoke differently from her and Jem and Atticus. She also noticed that Calpurnia changed the way she spoke so she could sound like the rest of the church members. Nobody likes to feel inferior to anyone else, so Calpurnia changed how she spoke to make everyone else feel comfortable and to fit in a little bit more. During the sermon Scout also learned that only a few people of the colored community knew how to read and write and Calpurnia was one of them. Scout had never realized education was such a rare thing. After the sermon they walked home and when they got there Aunt Alexandra was sitting on the front porch waiting for them.

Chapter 12

In chapter twelve, Jem and Scout got to go to church with Calpurnia. When they got there, Scout noticed that everyone spoke differently from her and Jem and Atticus. She also noticed that Calpurnia changed the way she spoke so she could sound like the rest of the church members. Nobody likes to feel inferior to anyone else, so Calpurnia changed how she spoke to make everyone else feel comfortable and to fit in a little bit more. During the sermon Scout also learned that only a few people of the colored community knew how to read and write and Calpurnia was one of them. Scout had never realized education was such a rare thing. After the sermon they walked home and when they got there Aunt Alexandra was sitting on the front porch waiting for them.


Chapters 13 & 14
In chapter thirteen, Aunt Alexandra came to live with Atticus, Scout and Jem. When Scout asked why, he said it was because she needed a feminine influence in her life. She liked having Calpurnia as her “feminine influence” but didn’t say anything. As soon as Alexandra moved in things started to change. Alexandra was a more traditional white person. She wanted to get rid of Calpurnia and didn’t like that Scout and Jem looked up to her and that they were allowed to go to church with her. She also made Atticus tell Jem and Scout that since they were Finches they needed to act accordingly and live up to the name. Alexandra always wanted Scout to be more like a lady. Scout rarely agreed with what Aunt Alexandra said but as the time went by they learned to live with each other. One night, Jem and Scout had been fighting and were sent to bed early. When Scout went to bed, she stepped on something that was alive, so she called Jem. He swung under the bed with a broom and Dill popped out. He had run away from Meridian and caught a train to Maycomb. After telling Miss Rachael he was in town, he told Jem and Scout the rest of his story and spent the night.

Chapters 13 & 14

In chapter thirteen, Aunt Alexandra came to live with Atticus, Scout and Jem. When Scout asked why, he said it was because she needed a feminine influence in her life. She liked having Calpurnia as her “feminine influence” but didn’t say anything. As soon as Alexandra moved in things started to change. Alexandra was a more traditional white person. She wanted to get rid of Calpurnia and didn’t like that Scout and Jem looked up to her and that they were allowed to go to church with her. She also made Atticus tell Jem and Scout that since they were Finches they needed to act accordingly and live up to the name. Alexandra always wanted Scout to be more like a lady. Scout rarely agreed with what Aunt Alexandra said but as the time went by they learned to live with each other. One night, Jem and Scout had been fighting and were sent to bed early. When Scout went to bed, she stepped on something that was alive, so she called Jem. He swung under the bed with a broom and Dill popped out. He had run away from Meridian and caught a train to Maycomb. After telling Miss Rachael he was in town, he told Jem and Scout the rest of his story and spent the night.