To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

Book Summary

To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

*The article contains spoilers from the book: To Kill a Mocking Bird.

How to Kill a Mocking Bird starts from the point of view of Scout Finch, along with her brother, Jem. The two of them live with their widowed father Atticus, in the sleepy town of Albama, Maycomb, which is currently suffering from the great depression. However, Atticus is a prominent lawyer and the finch family itself is relatively well off compared to the rest of the society. In one oncoming summer, Scout and Jem become friends with a boy named Dill, who lived in the neighbourhood in summer. The three of them become fast friends and they act out different stories together.

Once he’s learned of the talking, Dill quickly becomes fascinated with the Radley place down the street, which is a real scare for the rest of the kids. Dill even dares Jem to try and touch the property. Mr Nathan Radley owns the house itself, whose brother Arthur or otherwise nicknamed Boo, hasn’t ventured outside of the house for years, therefore him becoming a central of town gossip and rumours.

That fall, Scout goes to school for the first time, and she completely hates it. She and Jem also find the gifts that were apparently left specifically for them in the pothole of a tree in the Radley place.


Once it’s back to summer, Dill returns and together the three then acts out the story of Boo Radley, however, Atticus quickly puts out their silly antics and urges them to look at life from another person’s perspective before judging anything.


On Dill’s last day on Maycomb, the trio sneaks into the Radley house when Nathan shoots at them, during which Jem loses his pants when escaping. 


When he returns for his pants, he finds them mended back fixed and hanging on the fence.

In the next winter, Jem and Scout again find presents left for them in the Radley pothole, which is presumably left by the mysterious figure Boo Radley, however, Nathan Radley eventually blocks that pothole with cement.

A fire shortly after breaks out in another one of their neighbour’s homes, and during the fire someone slips on a blanket on scout as she was watching the incident.

Thoroughly convinced that this was the doing of Boo, Jem tells Atticus about the presents and the mended pants.

Later, Scout and Jem find out that their father took on a case to defend a black man named Tom Robinson who has been accused of raping a white woman according to the Maycomb’s white racist community.

This subjected Scout and Jem to abuse other children and families for their father’s decision even when they celebrate Christmas.

So the Finch’s black cook, Calpurina, takes them to the local black church where they are then welcomed with open arms.

And Alexandra, who is Atticus’s sister, also comes to live with them next summer.

Dill, who was supposed to live with his “new father” in another town, runs away and comes back to maycomb just as the trial is about to begin.

The trial begins and when the accused Tom Robbinson is placed in their local jail, a mob gathers up to lynch him.

Atticus himself faces the mob downright the night before the trial, and Scout and Jem who have sneaked out of their house then come to help him, though what disperses the crowd is Scout’s polite questioning about their own children from which they become ashamed and leave. Atticus spends the entire night watching, so no one comes to the man again.

The children were not allowed to come at the trial, yet they still did, and they sat together at the “coloured balcony” with the rest of their town’s black community.

Atticus provides the jury with clear evidence that the accusers Mayella Ewell and her father, Bob, are lying. 

Mayella was the one who had propositioned Tom but was caught by her father, so to cover her shame and guilt, she accused Tom of rape.

Atticus also provides very impressive evidence that the Mark’s on her face and body are the doing of her own father’s beatings. As after finding her with Tom, he had called her names and started beating her.

However, despite the clear evidence of the accusation to be false and the judge’s belief of Tom being innocent, the all-white jury convicts him of being guilty, and the innocent Tom Robbinson ends up in jail.

He later gets shot to death when trying to escape prison; this all really shakes up Scout’s view of the world and its judgement, as well as Jem, who falls into despondency and doubt.

Despite the resulting verdict, Bob Evell feels as if Atticus and the Judge have made a fool out of him, so he vows revenge. He menaces Tom Robinson’s widow, breaks into the judge’s house, and he even finally attacks Jem and Scout as they walk home from a Halloween party, where Boo Radley intervenes. However, saving the children ends with Boo stabbing bob with his knife at a vital point in between the fray.

Boo then carries the injured Jem back to Atticus’s house, where Atticus suggests Bob had tripped on a branch and fell on top of his own knife to protect Boo.

And after sitting with Scout for a while, Boo disappears back into the Radley house.

Later on, Scout feels as though she can finally understand what life must be like for Boo, and he has finally become a human being for her at least.

After this realisation, Scout finally embraces the advice that her father had given to practice sympathy and look at the world from other people’s points of view. 


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