To Kill A Mockingbird

At the beginning of Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout and her brother Jem are preoccupied with school, friends, and the spooky home of the mysterious Boo Radley. But this innocence is turned on its head when their father, a well-respected lawyer named Atticus Finch, agrees to defend a local black man, Tom Robinson, from a false rape charge. The children’s eyes are opened to the brutality and injustice of the racism in their hometown — and across the rest of the USA. For many readers, the lessons they learn from their father contain some of the most poignant messages of American literature.

Racism

The white residents of Maycomb, Alabama, are determined to find Tom guilty of rape, despite the clear evidence in his favour. Fifty years after the novel was first published, racism is still a deep-rooted problem in American society.

Justice

Jem is jaded and disillusioned after Tom’s conviction by the town’s racist residents. Even with the best legal minds on your side, says the novel, sometimes the justice system is simply unfair.

Childhood

Scout starts the novel a young tomboy who would rather endure anything than be forced to wear a dress. As she grows up and faces the harsh realities of her hometown, she may lose some of her innocence — but her father does his best to keep her goodness intact.

Empathy

‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view,’ Atticus tells Scout. Learning empathy is the most important moral message of To Kill A Mockingbird, and it reveals a world where good and evil are not always as simple as we think.

Courage

‘I wanted you to see what real courage is,’ says Atticus. ‘It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.’ The strength of Atticus’s convictions are one of the most inspiring aspects of the novel. Who inspires us today?