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In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird Audiobook, novelist Harper Lee employs unforgettable characters to explore racism and the civil rights movement in the segregated Southern United States of the 1930s. Through Scout Fitch, the reader learns about her father Atticus Finch, a lawyer who desperately tries to show the innocence of a black man unfairly indicted of rape, and about a mysterious neighbor, Boo Radley, who saves Scout Finch and Jem her brother from being killed.
The novel fits into the genres civil rights movement and bildungsroman (coming of age novel). It was first published in 1960 by J.B. Lippincott. It is set in the 1930s in a fictitious town known as Maycomb in Alabama. The author uses mockingbirds, rebirthing fire, snow and birds as the major symbols.
The main characters in the novel are Scout Finch, Jem Finch, Atticus Finch, Bob Ewell, Boo Radley and Tom Robinson. The major characters on the other hand include Jim Crow Laws, Civil Rights, bravery, effects of the mob mentality, feminism versus masculinity, gender roles, inconsistency of humanity, integrity, maturity, perception, prejudice, racism and women’s roles in the society.
The three most significant elements of the novel:
- The title “To Kill a Mockingbird” aptly refers to the local belief that killing a mockingbird is a sin. This is introduced very early in the novel and is repeated again later. Harper Lee subtly implies that Tom Robinson is killed by the townspeople and this is not only immoral and unjust but also sinful.
- The events in the novel occur when Scout Finch, the central character is but a young child. However, the refined sentence structure as well as the sophisticated vocabulary shows that Scout Finch gives the story when she is an adult.
- The novel is unusual since it is a bildungsroman and an examination of racism at the same time. Within the context of a coming-of-age story, Harper Lee presents a very crucial social problem. The author impeccably blends these two very distinct types of stories.
In short, To Kill a Mockingbird is majorly a novel on growing up in the Southern United States under unusual conditions in the 1930s. The story spans over a three year period, in which the major characters undergo momentous changes. Scout Finch and Jem her brother live with their father Atticus Finch in Maycomb, a fictitious town in Alabama. It is a small and close-knit town. Every family has a social class depending on its residence, their parents as well as when their ancestors first came to Maycomb.
Atticus, a widower brings up his children alone with the support of a black housekeeper called Calpurnia and his caring neighbors. Jem and Scout almost intuitively understand the machinations and complexities of their community and town. They however do not understand their mysterious neighbor Arthur Radley, also nicknamed Boo. He never ventures outside. When another neighbor’s nephew known as Dill comes to spend the summer in Maycomb, he teams up with the Finch children on an obsessive and sometimes risky mission to lure Boo Radley outside.
Scout Finch is a tomboy who enjoys the company of boys and prefers solving her differences physically. The young lady tries to understand a chauvinistic world that requires that she handle herself like a lady, a brother forever criticizing her for acting as a lady and a father who unconditionally accepts her. She hates school, getting her most important education from her father Atticus Finch and from her own street.
Almost midway through the novel, Scout and her brother Jem find out that their dad will represent Tom Robinson, a black man alleged to have raped and beat a white woman. All of a sudden, Scout and her brother have to endure a bombardment of racial insults and slurs because of their father’s role in the case. Scout finds it very difficult to restrain herself from physically squiring it out with the other children. Even the elder and levelheaded Jem loses his temper once in a while. When a neighbor; Mrs. Dubose insults them, Jem destroys her plants. This act earns him the sentence of reading to Mrs. Dubose every day after school for a month. As the trial progresses however, the two children learn a very powerful lesson from the lady when Aunt Alexandra comes to live at their home under the pretext of offering a feminine sway to Scout.
Not long after Scout Finch attends one of Aunt Alexandra’s Missionary Society meetings. Her father Atticus Finch interrupts the meeting reporting that the black man Tom has been killed during an attempt to escape. Scout on the other hand learns important lessons on gaining perfect womanhood and enduring even amid adversity on that day.
Things slows normalize in Maycomb and the Finch children realize that Boo Radley is not an all-consuming curiosity anymore. The story seems to be ending until Bob Ewell starts to make good his revenge threats. Scout is participating in a Halloween pageant at her school, acting as a ham. With Aunt Alexandra and their father Atticus too exhausted to attend, her brother Jem accepts to accompany her to school. When Finch embarrasses herself while on stage, she decides to leave the ham costume and walks home with Jem.
On their way home, the two siblings hear strange noises. They however associate the noises with one of their friends who frightened them when they were coming from school earlier in the evening. Unexpectedly, a scuffle ensues. Scout cannot really see outside her costume but she can hear Jem getting pushed away and she feels strong arms squeeze the chicken wires on her costume against her body. During the attack, Jem breaks his arm badly. Scout just glimpses out of her costume to see Jem being carried back to their house by a stranger.
The sheriff reaches the Finch house and announces that Bob Ewell has been found dead under the tree where the children met their attacker. He fell on his own knife. This is when Scout realizes that the attacker was none but Ewell Bob and the stranger who saved their lives was none other than Boo Radley. In spite of their father’s insistence, the sheriff declines to bring charges against Boo. Scout supports this decision and explains her position to her father. Boo sees Jem another time and then requests Scout to take him to his home, but it is Boo in essence who escorts Scout to his house.
Once Boo is safely at his home, Scout returns and heads to Jem’s room where her father is waiting. Her father reads her to sleep then stays by Jem’s bed waiting for him to wake up.
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