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Brilliant,
Insightful,
Inspiring

68 reviews

To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Pernnial Moderns Classics)
by Harper Lee

Published: 2010-05-11
Hardcover : 336 pages
95 members reading this now
193 clubs reading this now
157 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 68 of 68 members

"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout ...

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Introduction

"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel—a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice—but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

One of the best-loved classics of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many dis-tinctions since its original publication in 1960. It has won the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than forty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. It was also named the best novel of the twentieth century by librarians across the country (Library Journal). HarperCollins is proud to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the book's publication with this special hardcover edition.

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Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

Questions from the Publisher's Reading Guide:

1. How do Scout, Jem, and Dill characterize Boo Radley at the beginning of the book? In what way did Boo's past history of violence foreshadow his method of protecting Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell? Does this repetition of aggression make him more or less of a sympathetic character?

2. In Scout's account of her childhood, her father Atticus reigns supreme. How would you characterize his abilities as a single parent? How would you describe his treatment of Calpurnia and Tom Robinson vis a vis his treatment of his white neighbors and colleagues? How would you typify his views on race and class in the larger context of his community and his peers?

3. The title of Lee's book is alluded to when Atticus gives his children air rifles and tells them that they can shoot all the bluejays they want, but "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." At the end of the novel, Scout likens the "sin" of naming Boo as Bob Ewell's killer to "shootin' a mockingbird." Do you think that Boo is the only innocent, or mockingbird, in this novel?

4. Scout ages two years-from six to eight-over the course of Lee's novel, which is narrated from her perspective as an adult. Did you find the account her narrator provides believable? Were there incidents or observations in the book that seemed unusually "knowing" for such a young child? What event or episode in Scout's story do you feel truly captures her personality?

5. To Kill a Mockingbird has been challenged repeatedly by the political left and right, who have sought to remove it from libraries for its portrayal of conflict between children and adults; ungrammatical speech; references to sex, the supernatural, and witchcraft; and unfavorable presentation of blacks. Which elements of the book-if any-do you think touch on controversial issues in our contemporary culture? Did you find any of those elements especially troubling, persuasive, or insightful?

6. Jem describes to Scout the four "folks" or classes of people in Maycomb County: "…our kind of folks don't like the Cunninghams, the Cunninghams don't like the Ewells, and the Ewells hate and despise the colored folks." What do you think of the ways in which Lee explores race and class in 1930s Alabama? What significance, if any, do you think these characterizations have for people living in other parts of the world?

7. One of the chief criticisms of To Kill a Mockingbird is that the two central storylines -- Scout, Jem, and Dill's fascination with Boo Radley and the trial between Mayella Ewell and Tom Robinson -- are not sufficiently connected in the novel. Do you think that Lee is successful in incorporating these different stories? Were you surprised at the way in which these story lines were resolved? Why or why not?

8. By the end of To Kill a Mockingbird, the book's first sentence: "When he was thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow," has been explained and resolved. What did you think of the events that followed the Halloween pageant? Did you think that Bob Ewell was capable of injuring Scout or Jem? How did you feel about Boo Radley's last-minute intervention?

9. What elements of this book did you find especially memorable, humorous, or inspiring? Are there individual characters whose beliefs, acts, or motives especially impressed or surprised you? Did any events in this book cause you to reconsider your childhood memories or experiences in a new light?


Suggested by Members

What does the mocking bird represent? which characters in the book could be considered to represent the mockingbird?
by caribooks (see profile) 11/20/15

We did a quiz that I found on line to be reminiscent of when many were in 9th grade and approached the first reading with a "read and quiz".
by sdelorenzo (see profile) 07/25/15

Discuss Boo
Atticus's character and his influence on his children
by salesprson (see profile) 04/16/15

1. Discuss the major themes within the book. 2. Discuss who is the mockingbird. 3. Discuss the loss of innocence.
by CaribeAzul (see profile) 02/10/12

What is the significance of the mockingbird? What events relate to the mocking bird?
by aluba (see profile) 12/02/11

Discuss the role of women as portrayed by Lee at this time and place in American history
by FTessa (see profile) 01/27/11

Has our country really come to grips with the race issues,
by riggosmom (see profile) 08/13/10

Would you have had the courage to go back for your pants or take your chances with your father?
by lcarp68 (see profile) 05/24/09

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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