To Kill a Mockingbird: Plot Overview

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The novel To Kill a Mockingbird take places in the sleepy Alabama town of Maycomb where the Finches live. The narrator of the story is the youngest child of the two children of the Finches, a little girl named Jean Louise "Scout" Finch. The story is happening during the time of the Great Depression. Scout lived with her father and her brother. Her father, Atticus Finch is a lawyer with high moral standards at the time. Her brother, Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch who is four years older than her is a curiously and athletic young boy. Her family is considered wealthy compared to others. One Summer, Scout and Jem met up with Dill, Charles Baker “Dill” Harris a boy come to the neighborhood on summer, and become friend with him. They play together and exchanged stories. Dill got hooked by the mysterious of the story about Boo Radley, Arthur “Boo” Radley a mystery of the town.

The next summer Dill came back, and three were trying to take a look at Boo this time but got stopped by Atticus. He told them to think from another person’s perspective before they do anything. But, on Dill’s last day of summer at Maycomb, the three of them sneaked into the Radley's property and got a warning shot by Nathan Radley, Boo’s brother. They immediately escape from there but Jem’s pants got stuck and left back at the Radleys fence. When he gets back to take it the pants was mended where its torn and neatly folded hanging over the fence. Scout goes to school for the first time that fall and she hates it. The following winter, Scout and Jem also experience another mystery consider to be Boo Radley. They consistently found a mysterious gift from a certain tree’s knothole near the Radley house. When they tried to communicate with the mystery giver by leaving a note at the tree, they find themselves looking at Boo’s brother plugged up the knothole with cement the next day. On the coldest time of winter, Miss Maudie Atkinson's house catches on fire, Scout’s favorite neighbor. While she and Jem, shivering, watching Miss Maudie’s house burning to the ground near Boo Radley house, someone gave her a blanket over her shoulders. When she comes back home she then found out it was likely Boo Radley who gave her the blanket.

Atticus take a case to his hands. He, as a lawyer of the town, has been appointed to be a defender for a black man named Thomas “Tom” Robinson who has been accused of raping a while young lady named Mayella Violet Ewell. She is from the Ewell family which is a low layer citizen, some even call them “trash”, of the town. Because of this, the Finches received harsh criticism from some heavily racist of Maycomb. Despite knowing this case is almost impossible to win, the white jury at the time will never believe a black man’s words over a white girl’s, Atticus took the case it. He knows Tom is innocent and against all the odds he still wants to prove it. When Atticus, Jem, and Scout came to the family Christmas gathering Scout beat up her cousin Francis when he called her father a “nigger-lover” and that he is ruining the family name. Calpurnia, the Finches' black cook, took Scout and Jem to a local black church, there were some shocked but at the end, they warmly embraced the children. At Maycomb, Jem cut off the tops of an old neighbor lady's, Henry Lafayette Dubose, bushes. He got punished by Atticus for this and he has to read for her out loud six days a week, two hours per day, for a month. When Mrs. Dubose died Atticus revealing to Jem that he was helping her to break her morphine addiction.

Atticus has shown him that what Mrs. Dubose is what real courage is, the will to fight a fight that you knew you can’t win, and not a man with a gun. The next summer, Atticus’s sister, Alexandra “Aunt Alexandra” Hancock, come to live with the Finches. She is a proper and old fashion lady, and she wants to shape Scout into a Southern feminine ideal woman like her. At this time Dill ran away from his family to Maycomb, because of his mother and new father don’t seem interested in him. He stayed at the Finches house when Tom’s trial getting close. The night when Tom moved into the county jail to receive the trial. Atticus guarded outside the jail to prevent the possibility of lynching. Jem and Scout caught up to a hunch and sneak out of the house, Dill followed them, to check on their father. While they were looking at Atticus, a mob gathers in front of the jail door and told Atticus to let them lynch Tom and also threaten Atticus. Jem senses something and ran to Atticus along with the others. Jem recognized one of the men from the mob and asked politely about his son, and thanks him.

This made the man answer to her and bring the crowd out of their mob mentality, and dispersing the mob. The trial has come, Atticus told the children to stay home but sneak out to the court and got a sit in the “colored balcony” along the black community. The court started with the Ewell family telling the story as Tom got called by Miss Mayella to do some work, but instead of doing the work Tom jumped on her forcefully beat her up and rape her. Then ran when her father, Robert E. Lee “Bob” Ewell, appeared. Tom told a different version of the story as Miss Mayella tried to kiss her by hugging him from behind and this made him scared and ran away while her father burning in rage when he saw it. The Ewells testified that Tom beat Mayella by his left arm but in reality, Tom left has been dysfunctional from a long time ago due to an accident. Tom’s innocent was clearly shown by this. Atticus call out for everyone in the court as they should not be blind by racism and they should do what is right. But still, all of the white-jury pronounced Tom is guilty. While Atticus told Tom that there is still a high chance the higher up of the country will believe his innocent and let him free, but Tom couldn’t wait and tried to escape out of jail. Tom was shot to death.

This incident made Jem doubt about heavily justice around him. After the court, Bob Ewell loses his job. This brings Bob to tried to get back on everyone connected to the court. He threatening Atticus that he will not let him be for humiliated him in the court and vows revenge. He also tried to break into the Judge’s, Mr. John Taylor, house. He even attempted to do something to Tom’s wife but couldn’t because of Tom’s former employer, Mr. Link Deas, said that he will put him in jail if he tries to walk near her or his property. On Halloween, Scout and Jem go to a Halloween party but on their way home, they heart someone follows them. It was Bob Ewell, he tried to take revenge on the Finches children. He knocked Jem unconscious and tried to stab Scout with a knife but got stop by Boo Radley. While struggle with Boo and receive a fatally wound. Scout and Jem went back to their him with Boo carrying Jem. Atticus took care of Jem and called the doctor and report this to the police. Mr. Tate comes back after investigating the scene and said that Bob is dead.

This made Atticus consider for a court for his son and Boo’s legal defense but Mr. Tate stops him. They arguing and Mr. Tate says he might be not much but tonight Bob Ewell fell on his knife, then went away with his car. Atticus sat down and ask Scout does she understand what just happened. She said that she understands that Mr. Tate was right. Atticus surprise and asked her what did she mean. She says that it’d be like shooting a Mockingbird. Atticus regain his smile and thank Scout. Scout then walks Boo home while imagining how Boo views this town, she and her brother. Boo went inside his house and never appear in front of Scout again. But to Scout, he is now a human being, a kind one, and not a scary mystery of Maycomb. She then went back home and let Atticus read for her till she sleeps. 2. Focused Character 2.1. Jean Louise “Scout” Finch In To Kill a Mockingbird, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch is the narrator of the story. She is an American white girl. The story begins with Scout being six years old. She lives with her father, her brother, and their black cook in Maycomb. She is intelligent and be able to make logical conclusions inside her head were clearly the influent of her father, Atticus. We could considerate that Scout is more intelligent compared to the kids her age and is a tomboy girl by the standard of Maycomb. Even so, Scout is naive and extraordinary curious about her surround because of her inexperience.

This cause Scout often fights with her brother Jem. Scout character changed over time by the teaches of her father and interact with her surround. She believes in justice but it got shattered when her father loses the court of Thomas “Tom” Robinson. This changed her point of view and made she rethinks every action she took. In the beginning, Scout is an iconic tomboy where she solves everything with her fist. The part where she jumps on Walter Cunningham when the teacher mad at her, made the reader feel how Scout is just like every child blame on others, not themselves. Her rough image as a ‘let the fist do the talking’ is strongly appear here when she doesn’t scream or crying but just go straight to pick her fist as a solution resolver. This habit became rather sad when she hit Dill just because he didn’t pay attention to her. It is as if she still doesn’t know how to express her feeling in another way. But it is also made her strong and bravery, like how she decided jumps into the lynch mob to save her father. Even so, these behaviors made her father, Mr. Atticus, worries from the beginning of the story. Atticus needs to step in and talk to her when she started another fight with the subject about him.

When he asked her to not fight and endurance it. Scout’s respect for her father is so strong that it could make her conceals her own personality when she dropped her fist and walk away from a fight. She even feels noble just because she did what he ask him for three weeks, without the need of praise from Atticus. After experience three weeks of no violent Scout grown up as a bit. She learned that not everything needs to solve by her fist, but she showed us that she still not entirely throw the ideals all away when she said she would fight anyone who dares to pick a fight with her. As a tomboy as Scout is she still has a hard time when its come to get except by social. When Aunt Alexandra comes live with the Finches she forced Scout to change into an elegant lady. Her Aunt changed Scout clothes from pants to skirt made it hard to run, climb the tree or fight like the way she was before. Scout was angry and rebel against her aunt but after the courthouse of Tom, she starting to see the role of an elegant woman in a new light. By looking at her role model Aunt Alexandra and Miss Maudie shocked at the dead of Tom but still could get over it and calmly having a tea party, not bursting into tears. Scout now look at the role of a lady is to have courage than just wearing girly dresses or cooking in the kitchen. The willpower that just likes of her father’s, the person she respects the most. This erases the hate of Scout for her gender.

Scout’s personality developed the most when it comes to the story with Boo Radley. At first, she is curious about his existent and fear of the unknown at the same time. As the story moves on Scout started to interact with Boo more, like when they receive gifts from him in the knothole of the Radley tree or when Boo gave her a wear in the cold winter, and this changed her feeling about the person named Boo Radley. Its changed from blindly scare of the unknown to think about the unknown. Scout started to wonder what is the characteristic of Boo and what is he think stayed inside the house for years. After the courthouse of Tom, Scout has known what seen real evil, made she think on her own about the monster everyone called Boo, among human. She then under that Boo is no monster, not like the monster she saw, but just a poor man. When Boo Radley saved her brother from Mr. Bob Ewell, she realizes that the person everyone called a monster and fear was just a kind man. She at the beginning was just like others who believe in gossip and rumor changed her ideas and understand about the world. The four years of Scout wrote in the book, show us the rapid change of a child in their growing process. Scout was just a tomboy girl, kicking and punching, made her fist do the talking at the start.

Then changed to a girl who thinks that not everything needs to solve by her fist. Scout’s hates for her gender as a weakling lady changed to the image of respectable strong and determined, the strength of willpower and composure like Atticus. She realizes what is think is rightful and justice are not always true, the world is not just black and white of kind neighbor and evil Boo, but it is complicated. She needs to see it with her eyes and think to truly understand it. The character Jean Louise “Scout” Finch has been described as if she is the evolution that human needed at the time. The equal in races and the logical head to think before judge others. We could understand that Scout made the right conclusion for everything she experience and induce. Also, we could see that Harper Lee intentions are everywhere in Scout eyes. 2.2.Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch is ten years old when the story started, 4 years apart from his sister. He is a typical American boy who interests in football and guns. As a child of Atticus, he is composure and smart. But still, as a child, he is naive and inexperienced about the world.

He also shows his emotional side when he misses his mom or shock about the court of Tom. Jem’s character changes through the eyes of the narrator, his sister, Scout. As a big brother, he is calmer than Scout, he stops Scout fights. He usually plays with Scout but when the story moves on he stops playing with her. Still, as her brother, he looks after her but in a bossy way. His ideas about justice, evil and goodness, shattered due to the trial of Tom. This makes he became extremely emotional when Scout mention the subject. At the same time, it made him understand the true meaning of the society, the mass decide the truth. At the begging of the story, Jem is described as a brave kid. He a typical American boy who never back down on a daring challenge. He prefers physical bravery and holds no pride for his father who never plays sports or possesses a gun in front of him. He believes that to earn respect one must always show other his strong side. This idea changed when he saw Atticus take out the mad dog with a gun, then learned that his father was Maycomb best shooter. He now learned that humble is more important than pride.

Then, he comes to interact with Mrs. Dubose for a month. When he learned she was fighting her own battle against drugs, his ideas about true bravery changed again. He learned that besides bravery, physical, there is also courage, mental. Atticus teaches him to not holds the idea of a man holding a gun is brave but a woman who took a fight that she can’t win is one. Jem still believes that this world is only about right or wrong, and the right always win. The night when Atticus watched Tom jail. He saw his father bravely stand alone against the racists, the lynch mob. He also saw his sister was the first one who ran to protect their father. The idea about the good will win enforced when he saw his sister dis group the mob. When the court of Tom ends, his ideas about the world changed. He has seen real evil in plain sight and saw the justice lose. He learned that what the mass believe will become the true, and one individual can’t easily win against it.

This became a bit of a trauma for him, but at the same time strengthened his understanding of society. Through the eyes of Scout, we see Jem mature through time but got shaped by his father. As the story progress, we can see that Scout does not think much about his brother but we can still conclude that Jem learned that bravery is not just about physical but also about the courage to took a fight that one can’t win. He learns physical “bravery” need the mental “courage” too. Finally, he learned that the world is not about just black and white. That to be like his father, he needs to have the courage to fight against all odds. He graduates from a naive young boy to a mature man who understands the complicated problem of the world.

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To Kill a Mockingbird: Plot Overview. (2019, Feb 20). Retrieved May 21, 2024 , from

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