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We can assume that Harper Lee, author of the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, based the main characters of the story on herself. Like Scout, mischievousness, tom-boyish tom-foolery and a precocious maturity and intellect were all traits of the young Harper Lee during her youth in Monroeville, Alabama. And like Atticus, Ms. Lee nearly became a lawyer before dropping out of school.
Although Nelle Harper Lee has retained a reclusive lifestyle and type-lipped attitude toward her famed novel, we know many facts about her early life. Scout's dad, Atticus, is brought to life through the experiences of Ms. Lee's father, Amasa C. Lee, who was an attorney, Alabama state legislator and owner of a newspaper. Much like Scout, these occupations exposed her to political and social matters as well as the written word, hastening her own reading and writing skills. Her mother, Frances, suffered from a mental illness--possibly giving her insights into Boo's behavior--leaving her father, like Atticus, as the primary head of the household. Atticus was based on Ms. Lee's father, although she has undoubtedly instilled many of her own attitudes in his character.
Like Scout, the author spent her own youth as a "rough 'n' tough tomboy." She was visited during summers by her friend Truman Persons, later famed author Truman Capote, who was the basis for the character of Dill. She, too, studied law at the University of Alabama but gave up the profession just short of graduation. She was considered a loner and individualist, and she is still involved in church and social matters.
Today, Harper Lee, like Atticus, remains humble and lives a simple lifestyle in her hometown of Monroeville. And like Scout, she has a stubborn streak, still refusing interviews or public discussions about her one and only novel.
Harper Lee the author of the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird is compassionate. She created a novel with numerous characters who had varied struggles, and she portrayed most of them in a sympathetic and very human light. Even the trashy Mayella Ewell was partially portrayed as a victim of her father’s alcoholism and rage. The mean spirited Mrs. Dubose is humanized through the respect Atticus feels for her as she fights against her addiction to morphine.
In addition, she shone a light on various social issues of the time, as if she wanted the reading society to learn the same lessons that Atticus was teaching Jem and Scout. She taught lessons of tolerance and racial acceptance. Link Deas, Tom Robinson’s boss illustrated this through his devotion and support of Tom. Adolphus Raymond is an example of this as he is living with a black woman and raising children with her. Clearly Lee sees this as an issue that society should accept as she creates a character who pretends he’s drunk so that society has a reason for his “behavior.”
In addition, Lee might be giving us a clue to herself through the reclusive Boo Radley who only appears at times when something important occurs. Lee was a bit of recluse herself, and perhaps she sees herself a bit like Boo.
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