The Mockingbirds in To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee Essay

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Walt Whitman’s 1859 poem “Out of the Cradle Rocking Endlessly” depicts the mockingbird as a symbol of innocence that chants or sings of fond memories from the past. By contrast, Harper Lee’s famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, written almost a century after Whitman’s poem, portrays the mockingbird as innocent but as a fragile creature with horrific memories – memories of discrimination, isolation, and violence. Harper Lee wrote her novel, which is rooted in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the Deep South, during a time of segregation and discrimination, social issues which can be seen not only in the novel but were witnessed by Harper Lee in her own life. While Lee does insert bits and pieces of her own life…show more content…
She was part of a southern family related to the confederate general Robert E. Lee. Her father was a lawyer and newspaper editor. Harper Lee attended Huntington College and then the University of Alabama as well as attended Oxford University as an exchange student for one year (McGovern 2). Lee entered law school briefly but soon left for New York to pursue a writing career. Harper Lee's father, similar to Atticus, Scout’s father, had defended two black men who were accused of killing a white storekeeper; both men, father and son, were later hanged (Big Read). Although the Civil Rights movement had begun and society was making some positive changes such as Brown versus Board of Education (1954) which “held that the racial segregation of children in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment” (PBS). While these events were creating positive changes in society and in the government, real-life injustices such as Amasa Lee’s case and the Scottsboro trials still remained. It was events like these which helped to inspire Lee to write a book that brings to light the social issues of the day such as social class distinction and, of course, racism. However, the novel also establishes the idea that not all were guilty of heinous behavior and ideology – some, like the mockingbird, were innocent. To understand the importance of the theme of the mockingbird in Lee’s novel, one must understand

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