Autobiographical Elements of To Kill a Mockingbird

Fictional stories are often a reflection of an author’s life, even if they themselves do not realize that. This is certainly the case for Harper Lee who is the author of critically acclaimed “To Kill a Mockingbird”.  She has an uncanny resemblance to the protagonist, Scout, of the novel. Scout is portrayed to be a headstrong tomboy who is bored in school because she is gifted academically. In addition, as the novel progresses, she is shown to be a keen observer and open-minded. Harper Lee, as a child, was also not feminine and felt unchallenged, as well. Like Scout in the book, she also developed an open-mindedness that was cultivated by her father. He preferred to do what was moral instead of going along with the popular opinion. The primary similarity that should be noted between Harper Lee and Scout in the novel is that they both broke constraining social barriers. They looked at situations holistically instead of merely accepting what was socially acceptable during the time period in which they lived. Not only were Harper Lee and Scout similar to each other but so were their families and in particular, their fathers. Scout’s father in the novel was a rare soul who saw beyond superficialities such as someone’s financial situation or race and was able to see the good in everyone. Scout’s father is most notable in the book for defending an African American man who was accused of raping a white woman. His philosophy about humanity is exhibited when he states, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view until you climb into his skin and walk around it.” (Lee 30). Harper Lee’s father, Amasa Coleman Lee, was also an attorney and defended two African American men of manslaughter of a Caucasian storekeeper (neabigread.org). While both lawyers lost their court cases, they did instill a strong ethical code in both of their daughters. Harper Lee’s influence for the character of Scout was inspired by her youth experience. Scout in the novel was portrayed to be academically superior to her classmates and being someone who would rather roll around in the dirt than sit and drink tea. When Harper Lee was a student in her small Alabama town, she detested school as she was not challenged enough. It was not until she was in high school that she was propelled by her English teacher, who introduced her to the beautiful world of literature and writing. Even though she did not love her pre-secondary institution years, she thoroughly enjoyed college. Harper Lee was the antipode of most women and her tomboy exterior did not disappear as a young adult. During her time at Huntington College she was “an exceptional student focusing on studies and writing instead of makeup, clothes, and dating like other girls” (famousauthors.org). Harper Lee’s unique outlook on life vitalized her observant nature which mobilized her to create social change.      “To Kill a Mockingbird” is primarily a book about the flaws and hypocrisy of society. Harper Lee courageously wrote about racism when it was a very controversial topic during the time period in which this book was written. Caucasian citizens were just starting to become aware of issues surrounding racism due to the Civil Rights Movement and this novel created even more of an understanding. Many readers, in particular, could relate to the character of Scout and were intrigued by looking at racism through the eyes of a child. Scout, throughout the novel, develops an open-mind. During one point in the book, she expresses a desire to go to Calpurnia’s African American church, but was unfortunately stopped by her Aunt Alexandra. In addition, Scout recognizes the duplicity of her town when her teacher exhibits hatred towards Adolf Hitler and sympathy towards the Jewish people, even though she overheard her callously say that African Americans needed to be taught a lesson. Harper Lee’s character of Scout is an incredibly precocious, wise girl and even today still influences readers.      In conclusion, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a novel that has contributed greatly to the moral progression of this country because of its three dimensional characters. Through Harper Lee’s character of Atticus, we learn more about the depths and prevalence of racism, particularly in the court of law. In addition, Scout is a character we can all relate to and gave a new definition of what being a girl means. This novel is a true classic, not only because it was popular, but because it revealed the pores of society and inspired us to fix them. Sources: "To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee." Http://www.neabigread.org/. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 June 2014. http://www.neabigread.org/books/mockingbird/readers-guide/about-the-author/ "Harper Lee." Famous Authors. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 June 2014.






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