About Jean Ure. Jean Ure. Prolific English children and young adult author. Had her first book published while still in high school, then studied theater at Webber-Douglas in London. Her most well-known work is the Point Crime novel Dance with Death. Today Prolific English children and young adult author.
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Harper Lee had remained famously detached from interpreting the novel since the mids. However, she gave some insight into her themes when, in a rare letter to the editor, she wrote in response to the passionate reaction her book caused:. Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that To Kill a Mockingbird spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners.
When the book was released, reviewers noted that it was divided into two parts, and opinion was mixed about Lee's ability to connect them;  the first part of the novel concerns the children's fascination with Boo Radley and their feelings of safety and comfort in the neighborhood. Reviewers were generally charmed by Scout and Jem's observations of their quirky neighbors.
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One writer was so impressed by Lee's detailed explanations of the people of Maycomb that he categorized the book as Southern romantic regionalism ;  this sentimentalism can be seen in Lee's representation of the Southern caste system to explain almost every character's behavior in the novel. Scout's Aunt Alexandra attributes Maycomb's inhabitants' faults and advantages to genealogy families that have gambling streaks and drinking streaks ,  and the narrator sets the action and characters amid a finely detailed background of the Finch family history and the history of Maycomb; this regionalist theme is further reflected in Mayella Ewell's apparent powerlessness to admit her advances toward Tom Robinson, and Scout's definition of "fine folks" being people with good sense who do the best they can with what they have.
The South itself, with its traditions and taboos, seems to drive the plot more than the characters. The second part of the novel deals with what book reviewer Harding LeMay termed "the spirit-corroding shame of the civilized white Southerner in the treatment of the Negro". Inevitably, despite its mids setting, the story told from the perspective of the s voices the conflicts, tensions, and fears induced by this transition.
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Scholar Patrick Chura, who suggests Emmett Till was a model for Tom Robinson, enumerates the injustices endured by the fictional Tom that Till also faced. Chura notes the icon of the black rapist causing harm to the representation of the "mythologized vulnerable and sacred Southern womanhood".
Tom Robinson's trial was juried by poor white farmers who convicted him despite overwhelming evidence of his innocence, as more educated and moderate white townspeople supported the jury's decision. Furthermore, the victim of racial injustice in To Kill a Mockingbird was physically impaired, which made him unable to commit the act he was accused of, but also crippled him in other ways. The theme of racial injustice appears symbolically in the novel as well.
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For example, Atticus must shoot a rabid dog, even though it is not his job to do so. Lee even uses dreamlike imagery from the mad dog incident to describe some of the courtroom scenes. Jones writes, "[t]he real mad dog in Maycomb is the racism that denies the humanity of Tom Robinson When Atticus makes his summation to the jury, he literally bares himself to the jury's and the town's anger.
In a interview, Lee remarked that her aspiration was "to be Scholars argue that Lee's approach to class and race was more complex "than ascribing racial prejudice primarily to 'poor white trash' Lee demonstrates how issues of gender and class intensify prejudice, silence the voices that might challenge the existing order, and greatly complicate many Americans' conception of the causes of racism and segregation.
The Other Side of the Fence
Sharing Scout and Jem's perspective, the reader is allowed to engage in relationships with the conservative antebellum Mrs. Dubose; the lower-class Ewells, and the Cunninghams who are equally poor but behave in vastly different ways; the wealthy but ostracized Mr. Dolphus Raymond; and Calpurnia and other members of the black community; the children internalize Atticus' admonition not to judge someone until they have walked around in that person's skin, gaining a greater understanding of people's motives and behavior.
The novel has been noted for its poignant exploration of different forms of courage. Atticus is the moral center of the novel, however, and he teaches Jem one of the most significant lessons of courage. Dubose, who is determined to break herself of a morphine addiction, Atticus tells Jem that courage is "when you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what".
Charles J. Shields , who wrote the first book-length biography of Harper Lee, offers the reason for the novel's enduring popularity and impact is that "its lessons of human dignity and respect for others remain fundamental and universal". When Mayella reacts with confusion to Atticus' question if she has any friends, Scout offers that she must be lonelier than Boo Radley.
Having walked Boo home after he saves their lives, Scout stands on the Radley porch and considers the events of the previous three years from Boo's perspective. One writer remarks, " Just as Lee explores Jem's development in coming to grips with a racist and unjust society, Scout realizes what being female means, and several female characters influence her development.
Scout's primary identification with her father and older brother allows her to describe the variety and depth of female characters in the novel both as one of them and as an outsider. Mayella Ewell also has an influence; Scout watches her destroy an innocent man in order to hide her desire for him; the female characters who comment the most on Scout's lack of willingness to adhere to a more feminine role are also those who promote the most racist and classist points of view. Dubose chastises Scout for not wearing a dress and camisole , and indicates she is ruining the family name by not doing so, in addition to insulting Atticus' intentions to defend Tom Robinson.
Absent mothers and abusive fathers are another theme in the novel.
Scout and Jem's mother died before Scout could remember her, Mayella's mother is dead, and Mrs. Radley is silent about Boo's confinement to the house. Apart from Atticus, the fathers described are abusers. Radley imprisons his son in his house to the extent that Boo is remembered only as a phantom. Bob Ewell and Mr. Radley represent a form of masculinity that Atticus does not, and the novel suggests that such men, as well as the traditionally feminine hypocrites at the Missionary Society, can lead society astray. Atticus stands apart as a unique model of masculinity; as one scholar explains: "It is the job of real men who embody the traditional masculine qualities of heroic individualism, bravery, and an unshrinking knowledge of and dedication to social justice and morality, to set the society straight.
Allusions to legal issues in To Kill a Mockingbird , particularly in scenes outside of the courtroom, have drawn the attention of legal scholars. Claudia Durst Johnson writes that "a greater volume of critical readings has been amassed by two legal scholars in law journals than by all the literary scholars in literary journals";  the opening quote by the 19th-century essayist Charles Lamb reads: "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once. Many social codes are broken by people in symbolic courtrooms: Mr.
Dolphus Raymond has been exiled by society for taking a black woman as his common-law wife and having interracial children; Mayella Ewell is beaten by her father in punishment for kissing Tom Robinson; by being turned into a non-person, Boo Radley receives a punishment far greater than any court could have given him.
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For example, she refuses to wear frilly clothes, saying that Aunt Alexandra's "fanatical" attempts to place her in them made her feel "a pink cotton penitentiary closing in on [her]". Songbirds and their associated symbolism appear throughout the novel, their family name Finch is also Lee's mother's maiden name.
The titular mockingbird is a key motif of this theme, which first appears when Atticus, having given his children air-rifles for Christmas, allows their Uncle Jack to teach them to shoot. Atticus warns them that, although they can "shoot all the bluejays they want", they must remember that "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird".
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Tom Robinson is the chief example, among several in the novel, of innocents being carelessly or deliberately destroyed. However, scholar Christopher Metress connects the mockingbird to Boo Radley: "Instead of wanting to exploit Boo for her own fun as she does in the beginning of the novel by putting on gothic plays about his history , Scout comes to see him as a 'mockingbird'—that is, as someone with an inner goodness that must be cherished.
Atticus, he was real nice," to which he responds, "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them. The novel exposes the loss of innocence so frequently that reviewer R. Dave claims that because every character has to face, or even suffer defeat, the book takes on elements of a classical tragedy. Scout's experience with the Missionary Society is an ironic juxtaposition of women who mock her, gossip, and "reflect a smug, colonialist attitude toward other races" while giving the "appearance of gentility, piety, and morality".
Despite her editors' warnings that the book might not sell well, it quickly became a sensation, bringing acclaim to Lee in literary circles, in her hometown of Monroeville, and throughout Alabama;  the book went through numerous subsequent printings and became widely available through its inclusion in the Book of the Month Club and editions released by Reader's Digest Condensed Books. Initial reactions to the novel were varied.
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The New Yorker declared Lee "a skilled, unpretentious, and totally ingenuous writer",  and The Atlantic Monthly 's reviewer rated the book "pleasant, undemanding reading", but found the narrative voice—"a six-year-old girl with the prose style of a well-educated adult"—to be implausible. It underlines no cause To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel of strong contemporary national significance.
Not all reviewers were enthusiastic; some lamented the use of poor white Southerners, and one-dimensional black victims,  and Granville Hicks labeled the book " melodramatic and contrived". It's interesting that all the folks that are buying it don't know they're reading a child's book. Somebody ought to say what it is. One year after its publication To Kill a Mockingbird had been translated into ten languages.
A survey of secondary books read by students between grades 9—12 in the U. The 50th anniversary of the novel's release was met with celebrations and reflections on its impact. Native Alabamian sports writer Allen Barra sharply criticized Lee and the novel in The Wall Street Journal calling Atticus a "repository of cracker-barrel epigrams" and the novel represents a "sugar-coated myth" of Alabama history. Barra writes, "It's time to stop pretending that To Kill a Mockingbird is some kind of timeless classic that ranks with the great works of American literature, its bloodless liberal humanism is sadly dated".
Although acknowledging that the novel works, Mallon blasts Lee's "wildly unstable" narrative voice for developing a story about a content neighborhood until it begins to impart morals in the courtroom drama, following with his observation that "the book has begun to cherish its own goodness" by the time the case is over. Many writers compare their perceptions of To Kill a Mockingbird as adults with when they first read it as children. One of the most significant impacts To Kill a Mockingbird has had is Atticus Finch's model of integrity for the legal profession; as scholar Alice Petry explains, "Atticus has become something of a folk hero in legal circles and is treated almost as if he were an actual person.
In , an Alabama editorial called for the death of Atticus, saying that as liberal as Atticus was, he still worked within a system of institutionalized racism and sexism and should not be revered; the editorial sparked a flurry of responses from attorneys who entered the profession because of him and esteemed him as a hero. To Kill a Mockingbird has been a source of significant controversy since its being the subject of classroom study as early as ; the book's racial slurs, profanity, and frank discussion of rape have led people to challenge its appropriateness in libraries and classrooms across the United States.
The American Library Association reported that To Kill a Mockingbird was number 21 of the most frequently challenged books of — Johnson cites examples of letters to local newspapers, which ranged from amusement to fury; those letters expressing the most outrage, however, complained about Mayella Ewell's attraction to Tom Robinson over the depictions of rape.
With a shift of attitudes about race in the s, To Kill a Mockingbird faced challenges of a different sort: the treatment of racism in Maycomb was not condemned harshly enough; this has led to disparate perceptions that the novel has a generally positive impact on race relations for white readers, but a more ambiguous reception by black readers.
In one high-profile case outside the U. The terminology in this novel subjects students to humiliating experiences that rob them of their self-respect and the respect of their peers; the word 'Nigger' is used 48 times [in] the novel We believe that the English Language Arts curriculum in Nova Scotia must enable all students to feel comfortable with ideas, feelings and experiences presented without fear of humiliation To Kill a Mockingbird is clearly a book that no longer meets these goals and therefore must no longer be used for classroom instruction. Furthermore, despite the novel's thematic focus on racial injustice, its black characters are not fully examined.
Scout's voice "functions as the not-me which allows the rest of us—black and white, male and female—to find our relative position in society". The novel is cited as a factor in the success of the civil rights movement in the s, however, in that it "arrived at the right moment to help the South and the nation grapple with the racial tensions of the accelerating civil rights movement",  its publication is so closely associated with the Civil Rights Movement that many studies of the book and biographies of Harper Lee include descriptions of important moments in the movement, despite the fact that she had no direct involvement in any of them.
Young views the novel as "an act of humanity" in showing the possibility of people rising above their prejudices. Civil War. Childress states the novel. And most white people in the South were good people. Most white people in the South were not throwing bombs and causing havoc I think the book really helped them come to understand what was wrong with the system in the way that any number of treatises could never do, because it was popular art, because it was told from a child's point of view.
Diane McWhorter , Pulitzer Prize-winning historian of the Birmingham campaign , asserts that To Kill a Mockingbird condemns racism instead of racists, and states that every child in the South has moments of racial cognitive dissonance when they are faced with the harsh reality of inequality; this feeling causes them to question the beliefs with which they have been raised, which for many children is what the novel does.
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