Due to many key omissions in the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, the movie centers squarely on the two primary plots of the novel: the children's obsession with Boo Radley and the trial of Tom Robinson. Time constraints and directorial motivation did not allow for another main theme of the novel: child development--the growth and maturation of Scout and Jem. Many major scenes from the novel did not make it to the film:
- The Missionary Circle Tea. This scene showed Scout's first steps at becoming a lady and the hypocrisy and racism that existed among the women in the novel.
- Christmas at Finch Landing. Scout's fight with Francis, exposition concerning Alexandra's family, and the scenes with Uncle Jack (including Atticus's explanation of how and why he took on the Tom Robinson case) remove added development of Scout's character.
- Scout and her Teachers. The only scene with Scout at school comes in her fight with Walter Cunningham Jr. in the schoolyard. Omitted are the scenes with Miss Caroline and Miss Gates, removing author Harper Lee's criticism on the quality of education and teachers in general.
- Miss Maudie's House Fire. Gone are the symbolic references to the Morphodite Snowman and the blanket which Boo puts upon Scout's shoulders.
- Mrs. Dubose. Although the old lady makes one appearance in the film, the key chapter in which Jem learns about true courage is omitted.
- The Romance between Dill and Scout. Left out completely are the references to Dill sneaking kisses when Jem is not looking and their innocent sharing of Scout's bed after Dill runs away from home.
Many characters are omitted entirely including, sadly, one of the novel's most interesting creations--Dolphus Raymond--and the major exclusion of Aunt Alexandra. Others characters not found in the film include Uncle Jack, Cousin Francis, Aunt Rachel (her character is combined with that of Miss Stephanie), Mrs. Merriweather, Miss Caroline, Miss Gates, Helen Robinson and the gentlemanly little boy, Little Chuck Little.