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To Kill a Mockingbird - social & historical context question

Discussion in 'English' started by anenglishnqt, May 14, 2011.

  1. Thank you chocolateheaven, I am at very high stress levels now. My email address is anenglishnqt&yahoo.co.uk. The group have read up to Chapter 2, which is now the focus (not Chapter 6 as I might have put in my original post!!) so my focus would be social and racial discrimination with the background of the Depression and black rights. Thank you!!
  2. The novel is set in the 1930s but composed in the 1950s. The two periods will be conflated in many pupils' minds. So separate them out.

  3. chocolateheaven

    chocolateheaven New commenter

    Email sent. Let me know if it doesn't arrive x
  4. Published 1960 but set in 1930s. Why? Because the 1960s was still a time of division and racism in the southern USA, and discrimination and segregation was rife. Setting the novel in an earlier period makes Lee able to explore the issues more fully and gives her more freedom, seeing as she was a white woman from Monroeville, Alabama herself writing about racism.
    Atticus Finch is modelled, in part, on Lee's father, Amasa Lee. Harper Lee gave Gregory Peck, who played the part in the famous film, her father's gold watch.
    One event that may have influenced the novel is the famous case of the Scottsboro boys but Lee would have been aware of the injustices around her. There was also a reclusive young man in Monroeville, which HL may have modelled Boo/ Arthur Radley upon but he was not heroic. Dill was modelled on HL's childhood friend and fellow writer, Truman Capote.
    A good way into the issues of the segragation might be to play part of a film. The obvious one is 'Mississippi Burning' set in 1967 but it is an 18...(I doubt it would get this rating now thought) but you could probably play a clip. Another good film, with Danny Glover, is Freedom Song.
    Billie Holliday's song, 'Strange Fruit', with the lyrics might also provide a good way in.
    The courthouse, by the way, in Maycomb, is modelled on the one in Monroeville.
  5. That's why you've really got to separate the periods out in pupils' minds. In 1935 there were still people alive who could remember the Civil War (ended 1865), for example. By 1960 they had all died.


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