Review of “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee


“To Kill a Mockingbird” is a widely read novel by Lee Harper published in the year 1960. Lee Harper is a renowned author who has written extensively in the realm of politics and culture. Even though “To Kill a Mocking Bird” is her only published novel, she has done a number of articles. Much of the plot of the book is based on the life experiences of the writer. In fact, some aspects of the book trickle down from her experience when she was ten years old. Then, there was an event that occurred near her home town. It really raised eyebrows making her include the event in the plot of the book. In spite of the novel highlighting serious issues such as racial segregation and rape, the author has maintained humor throughout the story. This has made the book one of the most read across the borders.

Plot Summary

A Cornish Methodist known as Simon Finch flees his hometown in England and settles in Alabama. Finch was forced to leave England due to religious intolerance. He gets into business to be a wealthy man. With adequate finances, he is forced into slave trade. This was a move which he objected before. The major story occurs at a time when the world faced the Great Depression. A six-year-old girl known as Scout Finch lives with her widowed father Atticus and a brother, Jem. Both Jem and Scout become friends with a boy called Dill. Dill was a common visitor of his aunt in Alabama. Therefore, they could often meet and interact. In their interactions, Dill, Jem, and Scout talked about an imaginary being known as “Boo” Radley. Having bright imagination, the three children fantasize about Radley. They often get some gifts on the tree and imagine that they were placed there by “Boo”. In essence, Radley was a generous being to the three children. Being a lawyer, Atticus is selected by the court to defend an African-American man accused of raping a young white lady (Lee, 1988). Despite the overwhelming disapproval, Atticus goes ahead to represent the accused African-American. This act wrecks havoc to Jem and Scout through ridicule for their father’s action. Scout chooses to be with her father through all the challenges. For instance, she disperses a mob that attempts to lynch Robinson, the accused rapist. She successfully executes this by asking the mob to empathize with both Atticus and Robinson. The case is heard, and Robinson is convicted of rape even after evidence exonerated him from the crime. While escaping from prison, hapless Robin is shot dead by prison warders. Notwithstanding the fact that Bob wins the case, his reputation is spoiled. He contemplates revenge by menacing Robinson’s widow. He also spits in Atticus’ face. As if that is not enough, he attacks both Jem and Scout. Fortunately, Radley saves the two children.


From the novel, it is unquestionably clear that the story epitomizes the toothless nature of the law under the shadows of racial discrimination (Lee, 1988). The book highlights a number of themes. Through these themes, one can deduce that racial discrimination cannot be stopped by any rules or laws. This is categorical in the story line. A number of events occur in the novel to substantiate the thesis. The story occurred in the United States at the time when racial segregation was at its optimum point. Despite the established laws, there were double standards in dealing with various races. Apart from the laws, the white society did not respect the colored people whatsoever. In case a colored and a white person were involved in a crime, the society held the colored person responsible not considering the facts of the crime. The conclusion could be indiscriminately reached, and the colored person was condemned.

The rape case is a good example to highlight how the society and the law enforcers perceived the blacks. Robinson is a black man from the South who was alleged of raping a white lady. In real sense, the lady had been imposing herself on Robinson. Surprisingly, when she accuses Robinson of raping her, the whole white society condemns him without hearing the story. Even though he knew her daughter’s intentions, Bob went ahead to charge Robinson of rape.

Events preceding the trial are characterized by racism attributes. Atticus, a black lawyer, when chosen to represent Robinson, willingly takes the mantle. This decision did not amuse many whites; as a result, the whites became hostile to both Atticus and his children. Scout remained vigilant through the racist storm. To exemplify, she saved Robin from the lynching mob. From these events, one notes that the law remains helpless under the circumstances. According to the law, it is a crime to attempt lynching someone. However, the law remains silent when the mob attempts to lynch Robinson simply because he is a nigger. Normally, law enforcers would apprehend and charge those who attempted to lynch Robinson. Unfortunately, there was no step taken against them. This is a clear manifestation that racism outweighs the law.

During the hearing of the case involving Robinson, the law is twisted under the racial discrimination umbrella (Lee, 1988). The black man is accused of rape by a white lady and her father. Evidence is tendered, and the court is convinced that the accuser lied and no rape took place. In fact, it is unearthed that it is the white lady who was making sexual advances towards the black man. However, the court went ahead to convict Robinson. In a nutshell, the verdict was based on the race but no the law. Were Robinson a white man, he could have been acquitted. Unfortunately, his skin color condemned him to prison. From the trial, it is unequivocal that the law is inferior to racism. Judges did not consider the facts and the evidence tendered. Instead, they made a verdict in favor of the white lady to propagate the then racial discrimination policies.

Another tenet that highlights the inability of the law to cause social change in a racist society is the manner in which black lawyers are handled. For instance, they are not allowed to represent whites in litigations. On the other hand, white lawyers are not willing to represent accused black people. When the white lawyers refused to represent Robinson, for instance, the court coerced Atticus, a black lawyer, to represent his fellow black. Under normal circumstances, any qualified lawyer is allowed to represent any person. However, the white society perceives black lawyers to be incompetent. Such a scenario further highlights how racism impinges upon the law.

After the trial, Bob, the father of the lady who was allegedly raped, engages in a spree of revenge attacks. His main mission is to humiliate all blacks who were directly or indirectly involved in the case. After attacking the widow of Robinson, he humiliates Atticus by spitting in his face. More so, he attacks Atticus’ children who are later saved by Radley. Much damage is caused by Bob in his revenge mission. Regrettably, there is nothing that the law enforcers did to reprimand the heinous acts by Bob. Were it a black executing such evils, law enforcers could have stringently handled them. In essence, the law failed in its purpose due to the influence of racial discrimination policies.

There are other minor events that also exhibit the inferiority of the law in a racist society. According to the law, people are accorded freedom of worship (Barnes, 2013). However, blacks face difficulties in some white churches. For instance, when Finch offered to take Scout to her local church, she was interrupted by a white woman who did not want them to access the church premises. This is a clear manifestation that the law closed one eye when dealing with people of different racial backgrounds.


In conclusion, the author has used the book to give a clear insight of how the law has been subdued by racial discrimination policies. It has proved that double standards are applied in handling people of various racial backgrounds. Apart from that, the author exposes the rot that underlies the judicial system. Law enforcers do close their eyes when making decisions involving parties of various races. The court would rather distort the law to suit a certain race at the expense of the other. Apart from that, whites who commit crimes escape the wrath of the law simply because of their skin color. The ultimate prize is total anarchy as evidenced by acts of Bob. A key lesson should be drawn from this book; no one is above the law. Making judicial decision based on the skin color of the parties should be stopped outright. All human beings are equal and should not be condemned because of their skin color.

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