To Kill A Mockingbird Summary
The book "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a story of life in an Alabama town in the 30's. The narrator, Jean Louise Finch, or Scout, is writing of a time when she was young, and the book is in part the record of a childhood, believed to be Harper Lees, the author of the book..
The story begins as Scout describes her family history and her town, Maycomb during the time of the Great Depression. Atticus is a prominent lawyer and the Finch family is reasonably well off in comparison to the rest of society. She and her brother, Jem, meet Dill, who has come to live in their neighborhood for the summer, and the children share stories and fantasies about the mystery man who lives near by. The mans name is Arthur, or Boo, Radley. The house is owned by Mr. Radley, whose son, Arthur (nicknamed Boo), has lived there for years without being permitted to go outside. Not much is really known of him, just hearsay stories that people whisper to one another and to their children to warn them of the evils that may occur. One story that is told is regarding an incident with Boo's father, who is supposedly stabbed with a pair of scissors for no apparent reason.
The reader learns that Scout has problems at school early on because her teacher is annoyed with her for knowing more than what was expected in her grade. On the same day, she has another problem at home, when she makes negative comments about Walter Cunningham's eating habits, a boy who comes from a very poor family. She learns a lesson in manners from Calpurnia, the Finch's Negro housekeeper, and is taught to treat people with respect regardless as to who they are. When she complains to Atticus that Calpurnia spanked her, she is reprimanded by him and taught a lesson in compromise.
As time goes by, Scout and Jem find some mysterious presents in the knothole of an old tree on the Radley place. This makes the children become even more curious about the mysterious Boo Radley. Jem, Dill, and Scout venture out one night to try to see into Boo Radley's back window; which ended up in Mr. Nathan Radley
The next winter, Jem and Scout find more presents in the tree, presumably left by the mysterious Boo. Their treasures include small sculptures and a watch. Unfortunately, treasures can no longer be delivered, for Mr. Nathan Radley pathched up the tree with cement. One night, during a rare snowstorm, Miss Maudie's house is ruined in a fire. Scout, who runs out of the house to watch the scene from nearby without wearing a coat, has a rare encounter with Boo Radley without even knowing it.
Atticus is appointed to defend a black man named Tom Robinson who has been accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman. She is a member of the Ewell family, who is looked down upon by Maycomb society and referred to as "white trash." Atticus knows that Tom has almost no chance because he is black and will be tried by an all white jury. Nevertheless, he wants to help him reveal the truth.
As a result of Atticus's decision, Jem and Scout get into a number of fights with classmates and their cousin when they taunt them and call Atticus a "nigger lover." Life seems to be full of lesson for Scout and Jem. For example, when a rabid dog chases Scout, she discovers that her father, whom she previously thought too old to do anything, does possess some talents. Atticus turns out be a crack shot, killing the dog in one shot at a great distance. Another time the children learn to be tolerant of people who have problems even though they say mean things. A neighbor, Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, derides Atticus and spreads lies about him, and screams insults at the children when they pass by. Jem gets very angry at her and cuts off her flowers from her bushes. Instead of siding with Jem, Atticus feels that what he did is wrong and as punishment, Jem has to read out loud to her every day