Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird The story of To Kill a Mockingbird takes place during the 1930s in a small town in Alabama in the southern United States - much like the town where the author Harper Lee herself grew up. To understand what the book is saying about racism, you need to know something of the history of race relations in the southern USA. Plot ---- The novel is about three years in the life of the Finch family: Atticus and his son Jem and daughter Scout. They live in the town of Maycomb in Alabama, where whites are in control and blacks are second-class citizens. Atticus is a lawyer and the central incident of the novel is when he defends a black man, Tom Robinson, against the charge of raping a white girl. The story is told in the first person by Scout Finch, a young girl - so we see things through her eyes and from her point of view, and sometimes we need to reinterpret what she tells us. Chapters 1 - 3 ============== Jem (aged 10) and Scout (aged 6) meet Dill (aged 7), who has come to stay with his aunt in Maycomb during the summer vacation. Dill becomes interested in 'Boo' Radley, a recluse who lives next door to the Finches and whom they have never seen. A myth has grown up locally about Boo and the children are scared of him. It is Dill's idea to make Boo come out. After that vacation, Scout starts school. Since she can already read and write, yet is told she is doing them wrongly by her inexperienced young teacher, she takes an immediate dislike to school. She gets into trouble when she tries to explain to her teacher why Walter Cunningham, from a very poor family, ... ... middle of paper ... ...heir name. They are innocent and do nothing wrong, so should not be harmed. Is it significant that Atticus' surname is Finch? Perhaps he too is like a mockingbird in some ways. Tom Robinson was innocent did nothing wrong, but was found guilty. After Tom died when trying to escape from prison, Mr Underwood writes an editorial in the Maycombe Tribune which emphasises the symbolism: He likened Tom's death to the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children. Boo Radley is another innocent, good person who is in jeopardy. When he kills Mr Ewell to protect the children, he should have been brought before a court, but Heck Tate decides to report that Mr Ewell fell on his knife in order to spare Boo. Scout understands this: "bringing Boo to court would be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?"