You will barely ever be assigned an actual how to kill a mockingbird summary for school as essays about hunting are a much rarer occasion than those about literature. Harper Lee has published her only novel To Kill a Mockingbird in 1960, and it instantly became a classic that made its way into the school curriculum. The only way to avoid reading it is to ditch it, but even then you would know the story depicted in the novel. This novel has, to some extent, shaped out today’s understanding of many themes – most importantly, racial relationships. When one writes To Kill a Mockingbird essay for school, one finds that today’s attitude toward such issues is in striking accord with Lee’s ideas and conclusions. As such, the question arises – what can you write in your essay to make it meaningful and exciting for your reader?
The thing you should understand is that nobody expects to read any revelations in a high school essay. The goal of such assignments is to make sure that students have read and understood the book. In most cases, a simple summary of To Kill a Mockingbird will suffice. A summary is basically a demonstrative essay on To Kill a Mockingbird.
You may write several kinds of To Kill a Mockingbird book summary. Depending on what kind of English class you are taking, in what school and from what teacher, you will have to summarize either the novel as a whole or just its particular part or chapter. If your teacher assigns different students to summarize different chapters from the novel, then To Kill a Mockingbird essay questions will probably be the same for each student and for each chapter, with no regard to the fact that some themes or characters are next to absent in some chapters. For you to have a better idea of what we are talking about, let’s take Chapter 1 as an example.
As we begin to read, we understand that the narrator is talking about her experience back when she was six years old. The story is set in 1930s small town of Maycomb, Alabama, and the narrator’s name is Jean Louis Finch, but people call her Scout. We get informed that the story will revolve around the events that led to Scout’s elder brother Jem getting his arm broken.
We then move on to an exposition into the Finches’ family history. We find that religious oppression in England forced their predecessor move to Alabama and found a plantation which got the name Finch’s Landing. Scout’s father Atticus broke the standing tradition of staying at the plantation, got a degree in Law and settled in the nearby town of Maycomb to run a successful career.
The events of the novel as such begin to unfold as Scout and Jem notice an unfamiliar boy in the neighboring yard. He introduces as Dill and tells them he is visiting his aunt. Dill is a very talkative boy who soon becomes good friends with Jem and Scout. The three of them spend most of the summer reading and reenacting stories.
Eventually, Dill finds out that there’s a certain Arthur “Boo” Radley living in town. He was involved in several violent incidents, after which the authorities wanted to have him institutioned, but the old Mr. Radley refused. Instead, the Radleys chose to keep Boo locked in the house at all times, - and so a local urban legend was born.
In a drowsy little town, Dill finds this story most fascinating and becomes obsessed with this Boo character. One time he talks Jem into running up to the door of the Radley Place and touching it to see what happens. Jem does so in a sprint, but – contrary to the kids’ expectations – Boo doesn’t storm out of the house, and generally, nothing happens. Scout does, however, notice a faint movement in the window, as if someone was watching them from inside the house, but she later discards it thinking that it was probably just her imagination.
As everybody knows, one of the essential themes of the novel is racism. As such, it will surely be addressed in your To Kill a Mockingbird essay prompts. But as you can see from our general To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 1 summary, there is only exposition, and the theme of racism is not discussed yet. So, how To Kill a Mockingbird summary of this chapter can be about racism?
The answer is easier than one may think. 1930s in the South may have seemed a quiet time, but in reality, all spheres of life were corrupt with racism, despite the fact that slavery had been abolished long ago. This is why, instances of racism that take place in Chapter 1 are not underlined, but they are still there, in plain sight.
For example, we get introduced to Calpurnia, a black woman who works for the Finches as a maiden. It is the Great Depression era, and despite Atticus Finch having a respectful position in the society and a relatively successful career, he still admits that they are poor. Nevertheless, they still can afford to hire help from the black community. We are left to assume that black people were willing to work for such a small wage that even a “poor” white family could afford it.
Further on, as we get Boo’s story, we find out that the old Mt. Radley stood against giving his son to the asylum because he didn’t want a Radley to be locked up in the company of “negroes.” He thus asserts that no matter how criminal a white man may be, he is still above all black people.
Calpurnia is aware of this story, and she refers to him as “the meanest man to have ever walked,” contemplating that the cruelty with which he treats his own son is one of the instances of the white man’s ways. But she still works for a white family and even bonds with them. We see how she realizes and accepts the existing inequality between black and white population.
This is what you can expand upon if you have to talk about the novel’s Chapter 1 in your To Kill a Mockingbird racism essay.
Regardless of what literary piece we are talking about, character analysis is one of the all-time favorite topics to assign to students. So, if you write an essay on To Kill a Mockingbird, you can also be sure that character analysis is among your To Kill a Mockingbird essay questions. Admittedly, analyzing a character is easier than looking for traces of racism in the particular case with Chapter 1. Your To Kill a Mockingbird essay prompts will tell you on which character you should focus. The author has made it fairly easy for us by writing out her characters quite vividly, so To Kill a Mockingbird character analysis should not be a significant challenge.
For instance, Scout is nothing like a little girl should be. She often has problems with understanding an acceptable gender role for a girl, let alone accepting it. Her elder brother Jem does not, however, scold her for that. On the contrary, he is always ready to stand up for her. He is polite and responsible. Dill is a few years older than Scout, but he is shorter than her. He is generally not too keen on physical activities. He prefers talking and being imaginative. Calpurnia stands as a stark opposite not only because she is an adult but also because she is black. She realizes that she is different from the white people around her but accepts it, seeing it as a natural order of things. Of course, these brief descriptions are nothing like an appropriate character analysis, but you can easily expand upon them in your own To Kill a Mockingbird book summary of Chapter 1.