Analysis: To Kill a Mockingbird
Although Harper Lee set her novel in a very isolated locale, which she calls Maycomb, in an era when her notion of crossing racial and social boundaries does not always seem imminently attainable, the world of 1960, when To Kill a Mockingbird appeared, was radically different. The Civil Rights movement had begun: The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled against school segregation in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, and there had been a successful bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955-1956, which brought activist Martin Luther King, Jr., to public attention. Finally, people who believed in the importance of applying law fairly and breaking racial boundaries (as does her character, Atticus Finch) were being heard.
Most literary critics have written of To Kill a Mockingbird in glowing terms. One critic has suggested that Atticus is the symbol of the future, of the “new” South that will arise when it takes into account all human experience, discarding the old romantic notions of an isolated regionalism in favor of a wider Emersonian view of the world.
To Kill a Mockingbird has gained stature over the years, as readers began to think of it as more than merely a skillful depiction of small-town southern life during the 1930’s with a coming-of-age theme. Claudia Durst Johnson, who has published two books of analysis on To Kill a Mockingbird, suggests that the novel is universally...
(The entire section is 1470 words.)
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