To Kill a Mockingbird as a Masterpiece by Harper Lee

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The room is silent, as you read the novel To Kill a Mockingbird in complete peace, accompanied by only the sounds of nature beyond your room. The pages glisten in the beams of light through your window, and you are lifted and driven through the vast words on the pages. As you flip through the novel you begin to wonder of the work and process behind such of a piece. Truly a work of art, this novel has been critically acclaimed since its release in 1960. The author of To Kill a Mockingbird, written by Harper Lee has created a masterpiece, and is visible in her work, and the criticism given to it through it’s many readers.

The author of To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, has had several different influences that are visible throughout her writing of this great novel. Many involvements as to what has shaped the writing style of this author could be held through information shown in Harper Lee, by Darien Cavanaugh. Childhood experiences have greatly shaped Harper Lee’s literary styles present in this story, as her father was a prominent figure in the Alabama legislature, as well as a very well known lawyer at the time. This as well as other life experiences have helped to shape her novel about racial prejudice in the south. Another influence that had come upon her within her writing was the area of he country that she took residence in. Living in Alabama in the early to mid 1900’s Harper Lee had witnessed several accounts of racial prejudice upon others in her community. Throughout the education of Harper Lee, there is a reoccurring aspect showing as to why she became an author. Throughout the two colleges and universities in which she was enrolled in, Huntington College, as well as the university of Alabama, she took part in writing articles, contributing stories to the college’s literary magazine, along with publishing reviews, editorials, and satirical pieces for the University of Alabama. Finally, there were many writers, as well as friends that influenced Harper Lee over her years of writing. Along with being the research partner of Truman Capote, she was influenced by authors such as Charles Lamb, Robert Luis Stevenson, Jane Austen, and Thomas Love Peacock.

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Leading from the influences on Harper Lee’s writing, readers are opened to see how these circumstances have effected the first of Harper Lee’s novels. Through analysis of the nice, a constant reoccurring use of symbolism is used throughout the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. We are also revealed symbolism in the critical analysis paper “Symbolism and Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird”, by Adam Smykowski. The common use of symbolism opens with the prime identity of the snowman incident. When snow begins to fall in their town, Jim and Scout come up with the idea to build a snowman (Lee 65). Though when they begin to build the figure, they realize that there is a shortage of snow and must use a foundation of dirt which is found under them (Lee 65). This could be shown through the quotation, “ Jem scooped up an armful of dirt, patted it into a mound on which he added another load, and another load, and another until he had constructed a torso. ‘Jem, I ain’t ever heard of a nigger snowman,’ I said. ‘He won’t be black long,’ he (Jem) grunted” (Lee 65). Instantly as a reader, it becomes visible that through this context of what is occurring it is helping to reveal a large the,e of racism in the plot and in the town in which Jem and Scout live. As a reader, this symbolism shows that at the foundation of everything that we do and the society that is lived in is built off of the African American life and heritage from the early ages of this country. It shows that through the dirt being the foundation, but being covered up by the more peaceful, beautiful snow, which is used to show what America appears to others as on the outside. In the critical analysis paper, “Symbolism and Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird”, by Adam Smykowski, it is also revealed that this could be a foreshadow, as it is said that Jem tells Atticus and shows him that the snowman with the dirt as a foundation is just as equal as a regular snowman. Another example of strong symbolism shown in the novel is through that of the title of the novel. The title itself comes from the quote, “Atticus said to Jem one day, ‘I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’” (Lee 90). Adam Smykowski shows the symbolism that the bluejays are the bad and prejudiced of Maycomb county, representing the prejudiced. Along with this he tells that the Mockingbird represents the beauty and innocent.

Through the topic of symbolism in the novel, we are left with the overall analysis of the theme and parts of the novel. Works used during this research include those from the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and the critical analysis works of Darren Felty’s, “An Overview of To Kill a Mockingbird”, along with that of Mary D. Esselman’s, “To Kill a Mockingbird”. To begin with, this novel portrayed a very well thought of and structured, two part plot. This two part plot includes much of part one including Jem’s childhood with Scout and Dill, along with learning between what is right and wrong, good and evil. In part two the idea of Scout’s narration comes into play and introduces new ideas into the story as the plot thickens and begins to revolve around the court case. This two part plot gives a good structure to the novel as we get to see the childish playful side the Jem’s childhood where lessons are learned and we will see get put into use later on within part 2. Along with the two part plot, I felt like as a reader the harsh topics that were discussed throughout the novel were delivered in a peaceful and sensitively given way. Though the topics of racism and the rape that was discussed in the court case are usually come across as de spreading topics, I felt that this novel delivered the ideas through life lessons that were constantly shown to the children. For instance, we can see Atticus teaching lessons through the quote, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what” (Lee 112). To complete this analysis, it was quotes and lessons such as this one that truthfully opened my eyes to a completely different kind of reading that I was only able to find through this incredible novel.

In conclusion, Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, has created a true masterpiece which is visible in her work, along with the several years off great criticism of the novel. Through my research I discovered many things about Harper Lee, along with was able to further understand To Kill a Mockingbird to its complete extent. I began with learning about what had led to the great writing career of Harper Lee, along with who had influenced her, and what had made her into the writer that she became. Along with that I went to discover of the vast amounts of symbolism that were used in the plot to thicken the lessons given to the chi,Daren, as well as open up different meaning to what was said and discussed. Finally, through my research I was able to write an analysis and review of the story for myself. Flipping through the pages, it was revealed to me that there were lessons flooding the pages and different literary elements that gave a completely new experience for my reading. In the end, I would without a doubt recommend the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird to anyone seeking a novel full of lessons and truth.


  1. Darien Cavanaugh. 'Harper Lee.' Contemporary Literary Criticism, edited by Lawrence J. Trudeau, vol. 421, Gale, 2018. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.
  2. Esselman, Mary D. 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' Children's Literature Review, edited by Jelena Krstovic, vol. 169, Gale, 2012. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 30 Nov. 2018. Originally published in Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults, edited by Kirk H. Beetz and Suzanne Niemeyer, vol. 3, Beacham Publishing, Inc., 1990, pp. 1367-1374.
  3. Felty, Darren. 'An overview of To Kill a Mockingbird.' Literature Resource Center, Gale, 2018. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 30 Nov. 2018.
  4. Lee, Harper. “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 30 Nov. 2018. Lippincott, 1960. Smykowski, Adam. 'Symbolism and Racism in To Kill a Mockingbird.'
  5. Contemporary Literary Criticism, edited by Jeffrey W. Hunter, vol. 194, Gale, 2005. Literature Resource Center, Accessed 30 Nov. 2018. Originally published in Readings on 'To Kill a Mockingbird', edited by Terry O'Neill, Greenhaven Press, 2000, pp. 52-56.
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