‘To Kill a Mockingbird,' written by Harper Lee, is a seminal work which is considered to be one of the most popular and influential books to tackle issues such as racism and the justice system in America. It was published in 1960 at a time when America was still reeling from the effects of racial segregation, and issues of racial profiling and discrimination against people of color are still rampant.
It was met with critical acclaim and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. However, it got mixed reactions from the public on its early release, but eventually got a better reception and became an American class worldwide. It has been the only published book of Harper Lee for decades since its release, until the other book, ‘Go Set a Watchman’ was released, but it happened in more than 50 years later in 2015.
Most of the story revolves around the Finch’s family and the people of the Maycomb town, with the main characters Atticus Finch, and his children Scout and Jem, their friend Dill, and the mysterious neighbor Boo Radley.
No matter, whether you’re only reading it for the first time or are already revisiting it for a school assignment, there are a lot of insights that can be gained from reading 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Below we list down some study ideas that would help you in creating a discussion or in writing a paper for this classic work of literature.
The character of Boo Radley served mainly as both an anchor and a pivot for the children regarding their character development throughout the book. At first, Boo was seen as some sort of an outsider, but eventually, children created a special friendship with him. How did their friendship with Boo plant the seeds for a value of compassion awakening in the children, regardless of what society thinks about them?
The scene of Tom Robinson’s trial is an important point that makes the book so memorable, and this is what makes this book hold its place as one of the most famous works of literature. There is a need to highlight the disparity between the presented evidence, which clearly proves Tom’s innocence, and how bias and prejudice affect the ruling of the jury.
It is said that Atticus’ character has become a model for lawyers who want to serve with integrity. In a society where it is easier to conform, what could drive characters like Atticus Finch to represent a person who is vilified by almost everyone in their town? Point out how did his choice to represent Tom has turned the Finch family to the outcasts of their city, and how were they able to find a community within the black people who treated them as of their own.
The children are great vessels to tell the story since their innocence still leads them to be more impressionable and observant when it comes to the things that are happening around them. Since they are young, their prejudices against other people are not as ingrained as compared to the adults in Maycomb, and they are still willing to see the best in people, regardless of their skin color or place they take in society.
One of the greatest and perhaps the most climactic turning points for the characters in the book is the verdict and subsequent death of Tom Robinson in the hands of the supposed justice system. It brings out a great moral question, which is the heart of this novel. Compare this with the death of child’s innocence, when they have to witness such great injustice in a seemingly small and quiet town.
Regarding its importance, To Kill a Mockingbird has never wavered in its position as one of the most highly-regarded books of the last century. Even until now, the relevance of this novel still rings true in a society where problems and issues concerning racism still exist. Recent events have shown us that racism is still alive in America, which is why a close reading of this work is relevant for students. It shows how these issues have a long history dating back from the time of social policies that were oppressive to people of color.
Literature has long been a tool of social awakening, and whether this was Harper’s Lee original intention or not, as in old interviews, she said that the story was loosely-based on her childhood experiences growing up in the South. Perhaps that fact has caused the appeal of this work in the voice of children; it still manages to instill humor and compassion on serious issues like rape, oppression and social injustice without failing to drive the main point through. Students at elementary and high school benefit from reading books on social problems in a voice that they can recognize, as it resonates with them deeply, and hopefully, instill the values that the book hopes to impart when they grow up.
Jean Louise Finch macht einige Tage Urlaub in ihrer Heimatstadt Maycomb. Aus dem multikulturellem New York treibt es sie ins konservative Alabama zurück, wo sie schon früher auf die Grenzen der Toleranz ihrer Mitmenschen traf.
Denn Jean Louise Finch ist niemand anders als Scout, das kleine Mädchen, das im Weltklassiker „Wer die Nachtigall stört …“ tausende Herzen im Sturm erobert hat.
Demzufolge handelt es sich um eine Art Fortsetzungsroman, der kaum unabhängig gelesen werden kann. Meiner Meinung nach ist es notwendig, die Figuren bereits zu kennen, damit man der Handlung folgen kann.
Im Vordergrund steht wieder der Schwarz-Weiß-Konflikt. Dieser Roman behandelt die Südstaaten, die Rassentrennung und wie die Menschen in den 1950er-Jahren mit diesem Thema umgegangen sind. Gleichzeitig beschäftigt sich die Autorin mit einem Vater-Tochter-Konflikt. Sie beleuchtet genau diesen Moment, in dem Kinder - egal welchen Alters - begreifen, dass ihre Eltern doch nicht allmächtig und über alles erhaben sind.
Scout kommt aus New York nach Maycomb, Alabama zurück und muss der Wahrheit ins Gesicht blicken. Der Zauber der Kindheit ist verflogen und sie ist nun eine erwachsene Frau, die vieles mit anderen Augen sieht. Die Rassentrennung wird in Maycomb nach wie vor konsequent umgesetzt, dennoch zeigt sich, dass liberalere Wege eingeschlagen werden. Die Schwarzen finden langsam zu einer gewissen Selbstbestimmtheit, während die meisten Weißen diesen Veränderungen sehr skeptisch gegenüberstehen.
Das Wiedersehen mit Scout ist wunderbar! Oft stellt man sich beim Lesen die hypothetische Frage, was wohl aus diesem oder jenen Charakter geworden ist. In „Gehe hin, stelle einen Wächter“ gibt die Autorin selbst die Antwort darauf. Über manche Entwicklungen bin ich sehr traurig gewesen, weil ich mir doch bessere bzw. andere Lebenswege erhofft hatte. Trotzdem empfinde ich sie allesamt als authentisch und es wurde sehr glaubwürdig rübergebracht.
Im Vordergrund der Handlung steht Scout und wie sich ihre magische Welt der Realität beugen muss. Vorbei sind die Tage, in denen sie mit ihrem Bruder auf der Veranda herum getobt ist, beantwortet die Fragen, auf die ihr Vater Atticus immer die richtige Antwort hatte, und gewesen die Momente, in denen sie sich hingebungsvoll in die liebevollen, schwarzen Arme von Haushälterin Calpurnia geworfen hat.
Der Erzählstil ist sehr ruhig und besteht aus vielen Dialogen, wobei es zum Ende hin schon eher Monologe werden. Dabei hatte ich manchmal das Gefühl, dass dieser Roman noch nicht fertig geschrieben ist. Oft wirkt es wie ein Entwurf, aus dem nie eine Endfassung wurde. Nichtsdestotrotz hat mich Scouts Rückkehr nach Maycomb aufgewühlt und es war schön, sich gemeinsam mit ihr an ihre Jugend zu erinnern. Denn so manche Episoden daraus sind ein herzliches Lachen wert.
Ich habe gehört, dass Harper Lee dieses Buch eigentlich nicht veröffentlichen wollte und kann schon verstehen, dass sich die Autorin einige Zeit geziert hat. Denn es ist ihr natürlich nicht gelungen, die dichte Atmosphäre ihres Meisterwerks aufrecht zu erhalten. Weder die Magie der Kindheit noch die drückende Hitze der Südstaaten konnte ein weiteres Mal von ihr eingefangen werden, dennoch bleibt ein beachtlicher Roman, der gut zu hören und bestimmt auch zu lesen ist.
Scout ist erwachsen geworden und die Welt hat sich verändert. Ob sie für Jean Louise Finch besser geworden ist, muss man beim Lesen oder Hören aber schon selbst erfahren.
Wem „Wer die Nachtigall stört …“ gefallen hat und gern wissen möchte, was aus dem kleinen Wildfgang Scout geworden ist, dem rate ich zu dem Buch zu greifen. Auch wenn es dem Vergleich mit Harper Lees Meisterwerk keinesfalls Stand hält, regt es doch zum Nachdenken an.
The book was handed to me as a follow up from a quick discussion with a colleague. I decided to read it straightaway as I don’t like borrowing books from someone and keeping them for a long time. I honestly didn’t know what to expect: the title is ambiguous and the hype around the time of its release was quite substantial. All I knew is that it was by Harper Lee, the author of the famous To Kill A Mockingbird. I didn’t even read the blurb for the book. So, for some reason I was expecting another court room drama based on racial tensions of the American South. My advice: read the blurb.
Despite not reading the blurb, I was able to immerse into the book quickly enough. If you haven’t read To Kill A Mockingbird it won’t play to your disadvantage as this novel can stand alone on its own feet. The writing is not complex, but intelligent enough to engage the reader. The theme of the book is politically charged – I can understand why it would not be printed back in the 1950s. It is set in the 1950s and feels more autobiographical, personal rather just another novel about the history of segregation in the South. The novel is threaded with Jean Louise’s reminiscence about her childhood. These memories where everything for her as a child was black and white, right and wrong serve as juxtaposition to the her adult world where nothing is black and white and some things may seem wrong, but motives might be right.
A quick overview: Jean Louise ‘Scout’ Finch is now twenty six years old and live in New York City. She returns home to Maycomb, Alabama on her usual annual visit, but this time something is off. She secretly follows her father and her friend to a Citizens’ Council where one of the guests is permitted to give a racist speech. Shaken up that her father did not do anything to stop this man, Jean Louise is devastated. As she looks around her, she begins to notice increased sympathy with these kind of sentiments. She finds herself on the road of self-discovery and making a hard decision: to either stick to what she believes and leave her family or stay with her family and submit to the growing feeling of the place.
The novel does not answer any questions, but presents the day-to-day tensions and decisions that many American citizens had to live with in the 1950s. I would say that it is even relevant now. I found that the author’s call in this book is to reason. That reason will prevail above all. For me the book was summarised on page 270, “But the white supremacists fear reason, because they know cold reason beats them. Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.”
For those who love to read, there is nothing more difficult than someone asking you to put together a list of your favourite books. After all, no two lists will ever be the same and how can anyone possibly choose, it’s like asking which of your children you love the most…
Similarly, those who love to read fully understand how expensive books can be, particularly in this difficult economic climate. Therefore, I decided to put together a few of my favourite classics, some of which are out of copyright and can be online for free. For out of copyright books, I have added a link where the book can be found for free.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Written by English writer Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre is a classic novel which has been hailed as one of the greatest pieces of English fiction. Set against the backdrop of the magnificent Yorkshire Moors, this story follows the coming of age of a plucky young governess who faces a number of great adversaries to find happiness in the arms of her first love.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence
First published privately in Italy in 1928 and later the subject of an obscenity trial in the UK. Lady Chatterley's Lover gained notoriety due to its hugely erotic content. Based in Nottinghamshire where DH Lawrence grew up, the story focuses on a young married woman who becomes disenchanted with her upper class husband. When an injury from the war leaves him unable to connect physically and emotionally with Lady Chatterley, she seeks sexual fulfilment in the arms of Oliver Mellor’s, the gamekeeper.
To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
Renowned for its warmth and humour, To Kill a Mocking Bird is loosely based on Harper Lee’s observations of friends and family, but carries an important message about the realities of racism in the 1930’s. A classic piece of American literature, To Kill a Mockingbird is widely taught in schools all over the world and addresses themes of rape, racial inequality, courage and compassion. If you haven’t read this book, it’s one to put on your list of ‘must reads’ immediately!
Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
Not everyone’s favourite book, but a book that has earned its place in history. Fifty Shades of Grey tells the story of Anastasia Steel and the ‘emotionally damaged’ billionaire Christian Grey. After a chance meeting, a story of all consuming love begins to unfold. What makes this story stand out, are the BDSM themes and erotic scenes weaved throughout the tale. The book may not have been well received by critics. However, what followed was a sexual revolution that rocked the twenty first century. Sales of sex toys rocketed, BDSM practices which were previously criminalised were normalised and a new age of sexual freedom began.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
HYPERLINK "http://www.literatureproject.com/little-woLittle Women is a timeless tale of four American sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy. Following their lives from childhood to adulthood, Little Women has been a difficult book to define. Some describe the book as a romance novel, others claim that it is a children’s book. However, for those who have read it, the ongoing themes in this book work together to create an incredible piece of fiction that simply begs to be read.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
With over 20 million copies sold, Pride and Prejudice has certainly earned its crown as one of the most popular novels in English Literature. Using good, solid British humour, Pride and Prejudice tells the tale of the Bennet family – the overbearing Mrs Bennet, the long suffering Mr Bennet and their five daughters. Due to the laws of the land at the time, if Mr Bennet passes away the inheritance cannot be passed onto his own children and falls into the hands of a distant relative. With the pressure on to find a suitable marriage, the arrival of a handsome stranger causes rather a few trials and tribulations for the Bennet family.
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Believing that he was a failure and his The Great Gatsby forgotten, F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940 with sales of just 20,000 copies. However, due to the glitz, glamour and sheer escapism of this 1920’s tale, The Great Gatsby saw a revival during World War 2 and fast became one of the greatest classics in American history. The story follows characters from a fictional town called West Egg. Featuring millionaires, shady business connections, unrivalled glamour and scandal, The Great Gatsby worked hard to earn the title of one of America’s best loved novels.