Introduction

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Last Updated on September 1, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 493

So you’re going to teach To Kill a Mockingbird. This classic novel is a mainstay of English classrooms and Harper Lee’s most iconic work. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time guiding students through the novel, this text will ensure a rewarding experience for everyone. Teaching To Kill a Mockingbird will expose students to the rhetorical power of literary devices like allusion, narrative voice, and symbolism. Students will also engage with worthwhile themes surrounding gender roles and racial tension in the southern United States during the 1930s. This guide provides some of the most salient aspects of the text before you begin teaching. 

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Facts at a Glance

  • Publication Date: 1960 
  • Recommended Grade Level: 6 and up 
  • Approximate Word Count: 99, 000 
  • Author: Harper Lee 
  • Country of Origin: United States of America 
  • Genre: Bildungsroman, Historical Fiction, Southern Gothic 
  • Conflict: Person vs. Person, Person vs. Self, Person vs. Society 
  • Narration: First-Person 
  • Setting: Maycomb, Alabama, 1933–1935 
  • Structure: Prose Novel 
  • Mood: Lighthearted, Hopeful, Sometimes Dark and Somber


Texts That Go Well With To Kill a Mockingbird

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Though published 75 years before To Kill a Mockingbird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn offers a biting, if lighthearted, criticism of the racist attitudes of Southern antebellum society. Furthermore, the novel is one of the first in the American literary tradition to be written in coarse, everyday language—a radical choice that paved the way for writers like Harper Lee. 

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner. As I Lay Dying is, like To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the most iconic works of Southern gothic fiction. The novel, which was published in 1930, is narrated by 15 different characters in an unusual stream-of-consciousness style over 59 chapters. The story centers around the death of Addie Bundren, whose last wish was to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi, and her impoverished family’s motivations for fulfilling her wish. 

From Slaves to Sharecroppers by Leigh Dekle. From Slaves to Sharecroppers is a nonfiction work covering the sharecropping system that arose in the United States after slavery was outlawed in 1865. Students will receive valuable context about the climate of racism during the time of To Kill a Mockingbird

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. Published 16 years after To Kill a Mockingbird, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry also examines racism in the United States during the Great Depression. The novel is narrated by nine-year-old Cassie Logan, an African American girl living in rural Mississippi. 

Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. Like To Kill a Mockingbird, Wise Blood is part of the Southern Gothic Movement. The novel follows the story of a veteran, Hazel Motes, who returns from World War II to find his family’s Tennessee homestead inexplicably abandoned. Hazel, who has battled a lifelong crisis of faith, reacts by forming an anti-religion ministry in a bizarre, fictional Southern city.

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Key Plot Points