Harper Lee’s 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those classics that you just cannot skip. Everybody has to read it at least for school and write essays about it. Notably, the issues that the author tackles in the book are quite self-explanatory. Despite that, a lot of criticism has been written about it over the years, so when one writes one’s own To Kill a Mockingbird essay, one wonders what can make my essay stand out?
The fact is, when you are a student, nobody expects to find any groundbreaking findings in your essay, not on any subject. In case with this novel, a simple summary of To Kill a Mockingbird will do. Of course, you are writing about literature and not about hunting, so you will not be writing an actual how to kill a mockingbird summary. As we have mentioned, most likely, a simple demonstrative essay on To Kill a Mockingbird will suffice.
Essentially, any demonstrative essay about literature will be a To Kill a Mockingbird book summary. Depending on your school and your teacher, your task may be either to summarize the entire book in one essay or write separate essays summarizing each or some particular chapters. If the latter is the case, then you will probably have to answer the same To Kill a Mockingbird essay questions in every paper on every chapter about which you are writing. Let us take a look at what it may look like.
First of all, we realize that the narrator of the story is a six-year-old girl named Jean Louise Finch or more commonly Scout. Same as most stories, this one starts with an exposition. Lee does, however, adds a little twist to it by stating that the events that our narrator is talking about eventually lead to her brother Jem, five years older than herself, having his arm broken.
We then discover that the events take place in the rural South in the times of the Great Depression namely, in a small town called Maycomb, Alabama, in 1933. The children’s father Atticus Finch was the first generation of Finches to move there from their family farm, Finch’s Landing, founded a few generations ago by the first Finch in America, to pursue a career in law.
After this crash course in family history, we cut to a summer day in 1993 when the siblings meet a boy named Dill who came to visit his aunt Miss Haverford, a next door neighbor of the Finches. The boy is very sociable and quickly becomes great friends with the siblings. They spend most of their time readings stories and re-enacting them but get bored eventually.
This is when Dill discovers a character named Boo Radley. Arthur “Boo” Radley lives in the shabby Radley Place. He is said to be criminally insane, but his family refused to have him institutioned, so instead, they just keep him in the house all the time. Dill gets so fascinated with this Boo character in general that he becomes obsessed with learning more about this whole story. One time, he comes up with a plan to lure Boo out of the house by challenging Jem to touch the Radley Place. Jem accepts the challenge, quickly runs up to the Radley Place’s doors, and then runs back even quicker. Dill’s plan doesn’t seem to work as the kids don’t notice anyone in the house reacting in any way. Scout does, however, see a slight move of the window shutter, as if someone was peeking, but she is not sure that she is not imagining it.
Since racism is one of the central themes addressed in the novel, chances are that it will also be among your To Kill a Mockingbird essay prompts even if you are summarizing only the first Chapter. As you can see from our general To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 1 summary, the topic of racism is not touched. So how To Kill a Mockingbird summary of chapter 1 should mention racism? Well, the answer is fairly easy. Remember that the events take place in the rural South in the 1930s a time and place where racism was so widespread that it found its way into all spheres and levels of people’s lives. It is true that addressing racism when talking about Chapter 1 of this novel will have to be something of nitpicking, but there is material for that.
Among others, we get introduced to Calpurnia, a black woman who helps around the house in Finches’ household. We already see that despite the Finches are not very rich and slavery is already abolished in the 1930s, it is still not uncommon for a white household to hire help from the black community. This illustrates the economic gap between the white and black communities at that time and place. Later, Scout mentions to Dill that old Mr. Radley refused to have his son institutioned because he would not have “a Radley kept among some negroes,” thus asserting that even a criminally insane white man does not deserve such a “punishment’ as a constant company of black people. Calpurnia refers to old Mr. Radley as the meanest man to ever have lived, because she is sincerely disgusted at what he does to his son, implicating that this is one of the many cruelties specifically characteristic of white people. So, this is what you can mention if you are writing To Kill a Mockingbird racism essay on Chapter 1 of the novel.
Another common essay prompt when you write an essay on literature is character analysis. An essay on To Kill a Mockingbird will be no exception, and character analysis will most likely be present among your To Kill a Mockingbird essay questions. It is, however, a much easier thing to write about than racism. Usually, your To Kill a Mockingbird essay prompts will be specific, and it will tell you on which character you should focus in your To Kill a Mockingbird character analysis. If you have already read the book, then it should be no challenge to you. For example, Jem is a polite boy and responsible elder brother, while Scout is a tomboy who often understands particular social norms. Dill is smaller than Scout in size, even though he is older, which tells us that he is not so much interested in physical activities as in conversations, stories, and imagination. He also seems exotic to other kids because he comes from the faraway land of Mississippi and, being aware of that, he exploits it and sparks their interest in him even more by telling them stories from his life which they cannot verify. As for adult characters, there is Calpurnia who hails from an entirely different background but accepts the norms of both communities, thus illustrating the duality of social behavior. As you can see, describing particular characters in your To Kill a Mockingbird book summary of Chapter 1 should not be any problem.