What would you consider to be the overall mood and tone of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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bullgatortail's profile pic

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The tone of To Kill a Mockingbird shifts from chapter to chapter. The scenes with Jem, Scout and Dill and their antics concerning Boo Radley are mostly light-hearted and filled with childish humor. There are, of course, scenes of a more serious type, but even many of them are interspersed with examples of Harper Lee's comic touch. 

The second half of the novel, which primarily centers on the trial of Tom Robinson, is much more serious, exploring the subjects of rape, racism and intolerance. The children are growing and coming to understand that the adult world which beckons them is not a perfect one. Some of the scenes are heart-rending, such as Tom's unjustified guilty verdict and Bob Ewell's depraved actions. But the overall tone is one of hope and promise for a better world in the future.

readerofbooks's profile pic

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Like the previous answer, the mood changes. The first part of the book is light and even funny at times. We see this side of the novel through the personalities, perceptions, and actions of Jem, Dill, and Scout. What is particularly amusing is the children's attempts to get Boo out of the house. Here is an example:

Jem gave a reasonable description of Boo: Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks; he dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch, that’s why his hands were bloodstained—if you ate an animal raw, you could never wash the blood off.


As the novel progresses, the mood unalterably changes. When the trial of Tom Robinson is introduced, everything changes. The mood becomes somber and serious. This should not be unexpected as important themes are developed, such as rape, racism, courage, and justice. 

In light of this, both Jem and Scout grow up and shed their childhood. They have to face their community and life with a new set of eyes where not all people are fair, not all people tell the truth, and not all people are loving. Evil also even touches them, as Bob Ewell attacks them. 

With this said, there is also a note of hope. The children do not become bitter. They, like Atticus, will seek to do the right thing. In the end, Scout shows this as she sees Boo as a mockingbird, who needs to be protected. 


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