To Kill A Mockingbird (TKAM) is a story about innocence, knowledge, prejudice and courage set in the 1930s. The novel is narrated by a girl named Scout. In the beginning, she starts out to be a very immature child not knowing the prejudice times around her, as the story goes on she gains knowledge of these times by fellow kids around her accusing her dad of being a “negero lover” which then, it was an insult. Her dad, Atticus, is a criminal defense lawyer and a man of integrity. He was just doing his job by not discriminating against a black man.
The story revolves around a small family of three – Atticus Finch, a lawyer, and his two children, Scout and Jem. As the story continues certain characters are linked with these characters to form a dramatic story of events, attitudes, prejudices and values.
The novel is set in a quiet fictional place called Maycomb County in Alabama. The town is comprised of three communities: the white folk, the black community, and the ‘white trash’ which are interrelated with each other with hostility, racial prejudices, and friendlessness.
Jem and Scout are curious about their terrifying neighbor’s house “the Radley place”. It belongs to Boo Radley, who has been labeled a lunatic. They try out ways to make Boo come out of the house.
The main plot of the novel revolves around the trial in which Atticus defends Tom Robinson, a black, who has been falsely accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell. She is part of the ‘white-trash’ community. The children follow the case proceedings avidly and are inconsolable when their father loses the case.
The story of the mockingbird recited by Atticus is linked to the theme of the novel. It is considered a sin to kill a mockingbird, since it is a harmless bird which only sings to please others. Boo Radley and Tom Robinson are also harmless people. By letting Tom die, the sin of killing a mockingbird has been committed. But by not revealing the facts of Boo’s heroism in rescuing the children, the sin is avoided, and Boo is left to his seclusion. Tom’s death is a defeat of justice and an insult to humanity, and the readers can judge for themselves how much of a sin it is.
The maturing of Scout and Jim is portrayed as well as the exemplary character of Atticus, who is without any racial prejudices or biased views. He is a highly ethical character, who chooses to fight against the ‘old traditions’ of his own community.