The novel is a first person narrative account by six-year-old Jean- Louise (Scout) Fich and the events of the Alabama town of Maycomb. Scout, her brother Jem and their friend Charles Baker 'Dill' Harris go through a two-year learning process during the course of the story. The main plot deals with the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. Tom is defended by Atticus Finch: Scout and Jem's father. The children - and adults - of Maycomb take a tiny step towards justice for all. Although Tom is found guilty, his innocence is clearly proven by a white lawyer. The trial forces the residents of Maycomb, and the readership, to consider the reality of racial injustice but also the hope of social change.
The sub-plot centres around the real identity of Arthur 'Boo' Radley and his notoriety within the Maycomb community. 'Boo' is revealed not to be the monster that his reputation suggests.