The Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee was published in 1960 and is a classic of modern American literature. Even the story is about serious problems such as racial inequity and rape, the book is famous for its warmth and humor.
The plot and characters are inspired from the author`s observations of people around her, but also from an event that happened near her hometown when she was a child, so there are many autobiographic elements. The novel`s message is to stand up for what is right no matter the costs.
To Kill a Mockingbird shows us an unfair society based on prejudices and racism, as the plot is build around the story of a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman.
The action is placed in fictional Maycomb town, Alabama, during three years after the Great Depression, while the narrator is Scout, a six-year-old girl. She and her brother, Jem, become good friends with Dill who stays there during summers. The three of them are fascinated by Boo, their mysterious neighbor who hides from everybody. They always find small presents near a tree, they think it`s Boo, but they never see him.
Atticus, Scout`s father, is named to be Tom`s lawyer. Tom is a black man accused of raping Mayella, a white girl, but he is innocent and Atticus decides to defend him. Atticus proves his innocence and reveals that Mayella and Bob, her father, are lying. Still, everybody is against him and Tom ends up in jail from where he tries to escape and is killed.
Bob wants to get revenge for the public humiliation and attack Jem and Scout on the street at night. Surprisingly, Boo comes and save the children and take them home safe. In that fight Bob was killed, but nobody is accused of his murder. Scout accompanies Boo to his home where he disappears again. Scout thinks about Bob`s way of seeing life and regrets never repaying him for his gifts.
Themes and style
The most powerful element of style is the author`s talent for narration. To Kill a Mockingbird is considered a Bildungsroman, but also a Southern Gothic novel. The main themes are southern life and racial injustice, along with courage, compassion, class issues, laws, innocence, youth, morality, ethics, fear, femininity and family.