To Kill A Mockingbird
A phenomenon of the 1960s
To Kill A Mockingbird takes place in Alabama during the Great Depression that took place in the 1930's. The main character is a little girl named Jean Louise "Scout" Finch. Her father, Atticus Finch is a lawyer with "high moral standards". Scout, her brother Jem, and their friend Dill are intrigued by the rumors about a man named Boo Radley, who lives in their neighborhood but has never left his house. Legend has it that he once stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors, and he is seen as a recluse by the whole town. Dill is from Mississippi but spends his summer in Maycomb, the little town where they live, at a house near the Finch's.
They are curious to know more about Boo, and during one summer they create a little play, which is basically what they think his life is. Slowly, the children begin getting closer to Boo's house, which is said to be haunted. They try to leave notes for Boo on his windowsill with a fishing pole, but are caught by Atticus, who reprimands them for making fun of Boo. Unfortunately they go against his wishes and try to see into the windows of the house instead. Boo's brother, Nathan Radley, who lives in the house,thought he heard a burglar and fired his gun. The children run away, but Jem loses his pants after they are caught on a fence. When he returns in the middle of the night to see if he can get them back, they have been neatly folded and the tear from the fence roughly sewn up.
After that, strange things start happening to them. The children start receiving gifts such as: soap, pennies, and a soap-carved sculpture of people who look suspiciously like Scout and Jem, in a hole in a tree next to the Radley house. Since they don't know who sends them the gifts, they come and try to leave a note message only to find that the hole sealed in cement. When Mrs. Maudie's (Scouts favorite neighbor) house catches on fire, Scout and Jem watch from the Radley's lawn when someone puts a blanket on Scout's back. Not until after the incident, when her father asks her where she got the blanket from, does she realize that Boo Radley must have given it to her when she was too entranced by the fire to notice.
A few days later, her father, Atticus, decides to take on a case involving a black man named Tom Robinson that was accused of assaulting a very poor white girl named Mayella Ewell who is part of the Ewell family that, in Maycomb, is considered "trash". The Finch family receives a lot of criticism because of Atticus' decision to defend Tom. Despite the racial comments, Atticus decides to defend him because he knows Tom is innocent and because his conscience wouldn't let him do otherwise. He also does it because he wants to show people that a future of racial equality can exist. Because of this decision, Scout and Jem find themselves being taunted and being called names. Because of this their tempers slowly build until Scout finally snaps and beats up her cousin, Francis, when he accuses Atticus of ruining the family name by being a (insert despicable name here).
As the trial comes closer, Atticus' sister, Alexandra, visits and makes it her goal to turn Scout into the Southern feminine ideal, much to Scout's dismay. Dill runs away because his parents seem uninterested in him and stays in Maycomb for the summer. The night before the trial, Tom is moved to a county prison. Atticus, fearing a lynching (to kill a person before they've been legally tried), stands guard by the cell during the night. Jem is concerned for him so he, Scout, and Dill go looking for him. When they arrive they see a group of men that want to kill Tom and are threatening Atticus. At first they stand aside, but when Scout senses danger, she steps away from the hiding place and strikes up a conversation with the gang and distracts them long enough for her to convince her to leave.
In the court, the Ewell's evidence is pit against Tom's evidence. The Ewell's point of view is that Mayella asked Tom to do some work for her and then Tom forcibly beat and assaulted her until her father came and scared him away. Tom's point of view is that Mayella invited him inside and then started kissing him, while Tom tried to push her away. When Mayella's father came in he got really angry and beat her while Tom fled in fear. According to the sheriff's testimony, most of the bruises were on the right side of Mayella's face which means that she must have been hit by a left-handed person. Tom's left hand is useless due to an old accident but Mayella's father leads with his left hand. Due to the evidence, Tom should go free after being proven innocent. In the end, after hours of consideration, they verdict is that Tom is guilty. Although Tom will go to jail, he is happy with how long it took them to reach a decision. Usually it would have been decided in 10 minutes because a black man's word was deemed untrustworthy. He is hoping for an appeal when, unfortunately, Tom tries to escape from jail and ends up being shot.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ewell threatens Atticus because he feel humiliated. He gets his revenge when he attacks Jem and Scout with a knife when they're walking home on Halloween night after the school play. Jem breaks his arm, but no one is seriously hurt because Boo Radley stabs the unsuspecting Mr. Ewell and saves the children. After that, the sheriff declares that Mr. Ewell died when he fell on his own knife so Boo won't have to go to jail. Scout finally gets to meet the shy Boo Radley. After walking home with him, he goes inside, closes the door and she never sees him again.
Let The Titles Begin
The first edition published in 1960. It features the tree in the Radley's lawn.
The paperback edition was published by Popular Library in 1962. It features the mockingbird and the hole in the tree.
Another paperback version which was published by Grand Central Publishing.
British Edition published in 1960 by Heinemann
Folio Society (UK), published in 1996 is cloth-bound and has 85 illustrations
50th Anniversary Edition published June 2010 by Heinmann
50th Anniversary Edition, published June 2010 by Arrow Books Ltd.
50th Anniversary Edition, published May 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics
Published February 2004 by Vintage Classics