Six year old Jean Louise Finch (Scout) lives with her older brother Jem, her widowed father Atticus – a lawyer, and their housekeeper Calpurnia in small town Alabama during the Great Depression. The children are obsessed with their reclusive neighbour – Boo Radley and often act out stories about him. When Atticus is appointed to defend a black man accused of raping a young white woman, the family are mocked as Negro lovers. During the trial, Atticus is able to show that the man’s accuser – the drunken Bob Ewell – is lying. Despite being proven innocent, the accused is convicted and later shot while trying to escape. Ewell is humiliated and attacks Scout and Jem, who are rescued by Boo Radley.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
Published in 1960 and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Mockingbird is an American classic. The novel was inspired by racist attitudes in Lee’s home town. By telling the story through the eyes of a child, Lee is able to distance the reader from the terrible events. Scout is such a loveable character and gives a very accurate impression of what it feels like to be a child. The book provides a sense of warm nostalgia for childhood, and you are as surprised as Scout to find the evil percolating below. Atticus is an incredible role model for his children and has become a benchmark of upstanding behaviour for many people today. We were surprised that Lee allowed Go Set a Watchman – which is the first draft of Mockingbird – to be published last year as it shows Atticus to be a greatly flawed character.