What was the author's main purpose in writing To Kill a Mockingbird?

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iandavidclark3 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird deals with a variety of themes and ideas. At its most basic level, we can say that the book's main purpose is to explore race relations in the American South in the first half of the 20th century. However, there's more going on than that. For instance, Lee also tackles problems with public education, class hierarchies, and gender roles. As such, it would be most accurate to say that the main purpose of Mockingbird is to explore the concept of social inequality in general, and that the concept of race and racism is only one facet (albeit a very significant one) of this discussion. Additionally, the book illustrates the introduction to social inequality by focusing on the ways in which Scout, Jem, and Dill emerge from their childhood world and are introduced to the inequality of the adult world on many levels. In that case, one of the book's main purposes is not only to describe social inequality, but to also describe how the realization of said inequality culminates in a destruction of innocence (an idea that is referenced by the concept of "killing a mockingbird," which roughly translates to the killing of an innocent creature). 

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many similarities in this novel and Harper Lee's own upbringing that suggest some of her childhood experiences helped create this work.

Harper Lee has denied that the novel is autobiographical, despite the obvious similarities between the author's life and that of Scout's. Lee's father was a southern lawyer in Alabama, and Lee was quite a tomboy who enjoyed the company of a spirited boy, Truman Capote, whom it is speculated was the model for Dill.

The book explores the key themes of racism and its causes and effects, as well as the aspects of courage and tolerance. While there was nothing to suggest anything so dramatic occurring in Lee's life, it can be seen that she witnessed plenty of these themes in her own childhood that she wanted to express.

zohaibjamil | Student

still waitng for an apropriate one??.


bag4373 | Student

They say the book is based on education.

I see it as more about racial issues and judging people before you get to know them. Throughtout the book Scout has to learn not to judge people. Atticus is also in a judgemental situtationw ith Tom Robinson and defending him in court. Also it is based on doing what you think is right versus what everyboody else thinks is right.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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