To kill a mocking bird is a historical fiction by Harper Lee. It has won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The plot and the characters are based on her family and the events which happened in Monroeville, Alabama.
The novel’s themes deal with rape and racial inequality. It is a southern Gothic bildungsroman novel. The book is widely taught in schools and colleges. The novel has been described by critics as an astonishing phenomenon.
The story is narrated by a six-year-old Lean Louise Finch and it takes place during the time of the great depression. It takes place in the fictional town Maycomb in Alabama. Jean lives with her bother named Jem and their father Atticus who is a widower. They have an encounter with Dill who comes to Maycomb to stay with his aunt in summer. The three children are wonderstruck about their neighbor the reclusive Boo.
Judge Taylor appoints Atticus to defend a black man Tim Robinson who has been accused of raping a young white woman Mayella Evel. Atticus consents to the voice of Judge Taylor. Other children express disparaging remarks about Atticus wanting to defend a black man. One night Atticus encounters a mob who are lynching Tom and he rescues him from the mob.
During the trial Atticus establishes the fact that Mayella is lying. It was shown that Mayella made sexual advances to Tom. Atticus believes that the verdict will come in favor of Tom. But later on, Tom is shot and killed while trying to escape from Prison.
Lee’s style of writing resembles a cinematographic fluidity. Lee uses the narrative voice of a child and that with a grown woman recollecting her childhood. The author is also praised for her eloquent vocabulary. Writing looks like the style of narration of tragic-humor. The writer uses parody, satire and humor. The novel is labeled as a southern Gothic bildungsroman. From a feministic point of view, the novel is caricature of the fictional spaces of the sacred feminine.
The first part of the novel concerns with the children’s amazement of Boo Radley their malevolent neighbor. The fictional village resembles a southern romanticism. The distinction between races, both black and white is portrayed in numb elegy. The second part of the novel deals with the rusting demeanor of Southern whites looking down upon blacks. Racial prejudice and mortification of race are prevalent themes in the novel.
The idea of a black abuser of a white woman shows the vulnerability of the black race and the mythological southern womanhood. During that period any sexual occasions with black and white were destined to punishable as death. The caricature of the black as poor, stupid and defenseless calls for a deconstructive reading of the text as the one privileging white and marginalizing blacks.
Gender and class roles are strictly stereo-typed with lack of virtue and dignity. Black have no voice of their own as their narrative are said by the other. The American conception of class and race show the working of Derrida’s binary divide.