To Kill a Mockingbird Study Guide

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel about Atticus, a lawyer, and his children, Jem and Scout, living in Alabama. Jem and Scout are infatuated with a spooky neighbor, "Boo" Radley, Atticus is defending Tom Robinson, a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman. Tom is found guilty by a racist jury and is killed while trying to escape from prison. Bob Ewell, the winner of the case, attacks Jem and Scout to exact revenge but Boo saves them and kills Bob.

Scout Finch

The narrator and protagonist of the story, her real name is Jean Louise. Scout lives with her father, Atticus, her brother, Jem and their black cook, Calpurnia in Maycomb. She is extraordinarily intelligent for her age and, by the standards of her time and place, a tomboy. Scout feisty and combative; however, she has faith in the basic goodness of the people in her community. Despite the cute awareness she uncannily demonstrates occasionally, she is extremely nave in terms of appropriate behavior and the impact evil has on one's life, including her own life. As the novel progresses, Scout eventually develops a more adult understanding of the complexities of humanity and its continuous struggle with good and evil.

Atticus Finch

Scout and Jem's father, a lawyer in Maycomb descended from an old local family. A widower with a dry sense of humor, Atticus has instilled in his children his strong sense of morality and justice. He is one of the few residents of Maycomb committed to racial equality. He also has a firm faith in the basic goodness of humanity and will always appeal to that goodness in people. With his strongly held convictions, wisdom, and empathy, Atticus functions as the novel's moral acid test.

Jem Finch

Scout's brother, constant playmate, and protector, his real name is Jeremy Atticus. He is four years older than Scout, but he still includes her in his early childhood games. He is one of the many innocents in the novel whose confrontation with human evil nearly destroys his faith in human goodness.

Boo Radley

A recluse who never sets foot outside his house, Boo dominates the imaginations of Jem, Scout, and Dillb. His real name is Arthur Radley and he is one of the novel's many mockingbirds that are powerful symbols of goodness and innocence corrupted. In the beginning of the novel, he embodies the town's penchant for superstition and fear of the unknown.

Dill Harris

Jem and Scout's summer neighbor and friend. Dill is a diminutive, seemingly confident boy with an active imagination. However he is extremely sensitive and seeks companionship when and where he can. He helps initiate the children's fascination with Boo Radley and helps mark the emotional growth of Scout and Jem. His real name is Charles Baker.

Miss Maudie Atkinson

The Finches' neighbor, a sharp-tongued widow, and an old friend of the family. Miss Maudie grew up with the Finches and is close to Jack Finch's age. She shares Atticus's passion for truth and justice nd is the children's best friend among Maycomb's adults.

Calpurnia

The Finches' black cook and nanny. She has been with the Finches since before they left the landing. Calpurnia is a strict but loving disciplinarian. She introduces the children to the black community from which they are separate by distance and knowledge.

Aunt Alexandra

Atticus's sister, a strong-willed woman with a fierce devotion to her family. Alexandra is the perfect Southern lady, committed to family and social traditions, very judgmental, and prejudiced. She is Scout's nemesis.

Jack Finch

Atticus and Alexandra's younger brother, Scout and Jem's uncle. He is a doctor who moved away from Maycomb to study medicine. He is socially conventional, strict with his niece and nephews, but also fears children and their natural curiosity.

Bob Ewell

A drunken, mostly unemployed member of Maycomb's poorest family. Ewell represents the dark side of the South: ignorance, poverty, squalor, dishonesty, and racial prejudice.

Mayella Ewell

Bob Ewell's abused, lonely, unhappy nineteen year old daughter who accuses Tom Robinson of rape at the request of her father.

Tom Robinson

The black field hand accused of rape by Mayella. He is a crippled man who is married with children. Tom is one of the novel's mockingbirds, an important symbol of innocence destroyed by evil.

Link Deas

Tom Robinson's employer. He is one of the few men in Maycomb who do not base a man's integrity on his skin color.

Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose

An elderly, misanthropic, racist woman who lives near the Finches. She is dying while in the midst of recovering from a morphine addiction. She verbally abuses the children and their family each time they pass by her home.

Nathan Radley

Boo Radley's older brother and care taker who is similar to the deceased Mr. Radley, Boo and Nathan's father. Nathan attempts to end a key element of Boo's relationship with Jem and Scout by plugging up the knot -- hole in which Boo leaves gifts for the children.

Heck Tate

The sheriff of Maycomb and a long time citizen of Maycomb, he is a major witness at Tom Robinson's trial. Heck is a decent man who tries to do the best he can to protect the innocent from danger.

Mr. Underwood

The publisher of Maycomb's newspaper. Mr. Underwood is Atticus' friend and ally Tom Robinson affair.

Mr. Dolphus Raymond

A wealthy white man married to a black woman and who has mulatto children. He lives with the black community on his huge piece of land near the river. Raymond pretends to be a drunkard in order to avoid explaining his behavior to the white community. He is cynical and suspicious of the town that ostracized him for his lifestyle choice and wishes to not take part in itsaffairs.

Mr. Walter Cunningham

A poor farmer and part of the mob that seeks to lynch Tom Robinson at the jail. Mr. Walter Cunningham displays his human goodness when Scout's politeness compels him to disperse the men at the jail.

Walter Cunningham

Mr. Walter Cunningham's son and Scout's classmate. Walter represents the progeny of the poor farmers in Maycomb and the cultural practices of that group.

Miss Caroline

Scout's first grade teacher. She is new to Maycomb and does not understand its social nuances. She punishes Scout for being an advanced reader.

Miss Stephanie Crawford

She is the town gossip and busy body.

Mrs. Grace Merriweather

A friend of Aunt Alexandra and member of her missionary circle. Despite her racist beliefs, she is self-righteous. She organizes the Halloween pageant at Scout and Jem's school.

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