Is Alcott mentioned in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By Alcott, you may mean to speak of the author Louisa May Alcott, an author of the 1800s famous for writing novels that appeal to girls such as Little Women, Little Men, and Jo's Boys. While neither the name Alcott nor her works are mentioned or alluded to in To Kill a Mockingbird, author Harper Lee does make many other literary allusions.

Early in the novel, we learn that when Scout, Jem, and Dill play games, they act out characters and plots they have read in books. Many children's novels popular in that time period are mentioned such as Tarzan and the Apes, "the Rover Boys series," and the "Tom Swift series." With each book they act out, Jem takes the best roles for himself, leaving Scout and Dill to play the inferior roles. For example, Jem plays Tarzan while Scout, followed by Dill when he arrives, plays the ape; Jem plays the brilliant detective Tom Swift while Scout then Dill plays his dumber side kick; and, Dill plays the insecure Mr. Crabtree from the "Rover Boys series" while Jem and Scout take the lead roles. All of these references to popular children's books count as literary allusions.

Aside from literary allusions, Lee also makes several historical allusions in speaking of the South losing the Civil War and the end of slavery. For example, in the very first chapter, Scout the narrator notes that their founding father, Simon Finch, would have been furious with the freedom of the slaves the Civil War brought because it robbed the Finches of their wealth and free labor, leaving the Finches only their land:

Simon would have regarded with impotent fury the disturbance between the North and South, as it left his descendants stripped of everything but their land. (Ch. 1)

This reference to the "disturbance between the North and the South" is an allusion to the Civil War and to the freedom of the slaves, which counts as an historical allusion. Beyond being a famous children's novelist, Louisa May Alcott was also a devoted abolitionist. So, while Alcott is not alluded to in Lee's novel, many of the things she stood for are alluded to.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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