To Kill A Mockingbird 9 Essay, Research Paper
To Kill A Mockingbird Summary
To Kill a Mockingbird takes place in Alabama, the story is narrated by the main character, a little girl named Scout Finch. Her father, Atticus Finch, is a lawyer with moral beliefs. Scout and her brother, Jem, and their friend Dill are intrigued and curious by the local rumors about a man named Boo Radley who lives in their neighborhood but never sets foot out his house. Rumor has it that he once stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors, then he is made out to be some kind of lunatic. Their friend, Dill is from Mississippi but spends his summer in Maycomb at a house near the Finches.
The children are curious to know more about Boo, so they create a mini-drama to re-enact the rumors which tell the events of his life. They slowly begin moving closer to his house , which is said to be haunted. They try leaving notes for Boo on his windowsill, but are caught by Atticus, who takes them away . Afterwards they try sneaking to the house at night and looking through the windows. However, Boo’s brother, Nathan Radley, who lives with him, thinks he hears a prowler and begins firing his gun. The children get away, but Jem loses his pants in a gate by getting caught within the fence. When he returns, his ripped pants have been folded and sewn up.
Other mysterious things happen to the children. A certain tree near the Radley house has a hole in which little presents are often left for them, like pennies and chewing gum. When they leave a note for the person who left these gifts, Boo’s brother plugs up the hole the next day with cement. The next winter brings unexpected cold and snows, and the house of their kind neighbor, Miss Maudie catches on fire. While Jem and Scout, watch the blaze from near the Radley house, someone puts a blanket around Scout. She doesn’t realize until afterwards that Boo Radley must have been the one to do this.
Atticus decides to take on a case of a black man named Tom Robinson who has been accused of raping a very poor white girl named Mayella Ewell, a member of the notorious Ewell family, who belong to the level of society who were refered to as “trash.” The Finches all face harsh criticism in racist Maycomb because of Atticus’s decision to defend Tom Robinson, but Atticus insists upon going through with the case because of his conscience and morals. He knows that Tom has no chance to win, because the white jury will never believe his story, but he wants to reveal the truth of what happened to the
townspeople and how ignorant they were.
Scout and Jem are made fun of and taunted, and Scout has trouble keeping her tempers. At a family Chirstmas gathering, Scout beats up her cousin Francis when he accuses Atticus of ruining the family name and calling him names. Atticus makes Jem cut off the tops of an old neighbor’s flower bushes, and then as punishment he has to read out loud to her every day while she breaks her morphine addiction. Atticus let Jem see this this old woman as an example of true courage, to keep fighting when you know you can’t win. This shows Jem why Atticus is defending Tom Robinson.
The time for the trial is getting closer, and Atticus’s sister Alexandra comes to stay with the family. She is proper and old-fashioned, so she wants to shape Scout into the model Southern woman, which is the opposite of Scout. Dill runs away from home, where his mother and new father don’t seem interested in him, so he stays in Maycomb for the summer of Tom’s trial. The night before the trial, Tom is moved into the county jail, and Atticus, fearing a possible lynching, stands outside to guard the jail door all night. Jem is worried about him, and the three children sneak into town at night to find him. An angry mob arrives ready to kill Tom Robinson, but Scout runs out and begins to speak to one of the men, the father of one of her classmates in school. Her innocence makes them feel stupid so they leave.
The trial is the Ewell’s word against Tom Robinson’s. According to the Ewells, Mayella asked Tom to do some work for her while her father was out, and Tom came into their house and beat up and raped Mayella until her father appeared and scared him away. Tom says that Mayella invited him inside, then threw her arms around him and began to kiss him. When her father arrived, he flew into a rage and beat her up, while Tom ran away in fright. According to the sheriff’s testimony, Mayella’s bruises were on the right side of her face. Tom Robinson’s left arm is useless from an old accident, however Mr. Ewell leads with his left. Given this evidence, Tom should go free, but after hours of debating, the jury pronounces him guilty.
Though the verdict is unfortunate, Atticus feels some satisfaction that the jury took so long deciding what should of taken minutes, because a black man’s word would not be trusted or believed. Atticus is hoping for an appeal, but unfortunately Tom tries to escape from his prison and is shot to death. Meanwhile, Mr. Ewell has been threatening Atticus because he feels he was humiliated. He gets his revenge one night while Jem and Scout are walking home from Halloween play at their school. He follows them home in the dark, then attempts to kill them. Jem gets hurt, and Scout, who is wearing a big costume, is helpless. All of the sudden, Boo Radley stabs Mr. Ewell and saves them. Scout finally get a chance to meet the shy Boo Radley, when she woke up in her bed from a concusion during the fight. The sheriff declares that Mr. Ewell fell on his own knife so that Boo won’t have to be tried for murder. Scout walks Boo home. He goes inside and she never sees him again.