To Kill a Mockingbird Characters
To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It has been included in school curriculums almost since its publication because of the strength of its characters and its overall themes. Though the main character of To Kill a Mockingbird is Scout, the rest of To Kill a Mockingbird characters present a complex story about the good and bad in humanity. Let's dive into this To Kill a Mockingbird character analysis!
To Kill a Mockingbird Main Characters
Jean Louise Finch, called Scout throughout the book, is the narrator and main character of To Kill a Mockingbird. The story begins when she's about five years old and much of the narrative is told from her point of view. She starts the story as a tomboyish child but ends it as a mature 8-year-old. Scout is unusual by the standards of where she lives (Maycomb, Alabama) and the time the story is set (the 1930s). Raised by her father, Atticus Finch, to be a curious and independent young girl, she dresses like a boy and enjoys playing outdoors and getting into fights.
At the beginning of the story, she considers being called a girl an insult but learns over the years how to become more feminine. She is more intelligent than her peers, knowing how to read and write in first grade because of the home education Atticus provides. She starts off having a childish belief in the complete goodness of human beings, but the events in her life quickly show her that though people are good, they are also capable of evil. Through her eyes the reader is taken on a journey of self-discovery, coming of age, and understanding morality.
Jeremy Finch, called Jem throughout the book, is Scout's older brother, the first child of Atticus Finch, and one of the most important to Kill a Mockingbird main characters. He is almost 10 at the beginning of the story and is strongly affected by the events narrated by Scout. At the beginning of the story, Jem and Scout spend a lot of time together but as he gets older he creates more distance between him and his sister. Jem is what may be considered a typical boy, considering bravery and sports an important element of life.
Raised by Atticus to have high moral standards, he finds it difficult to understand the injustice he sees around him in society. As he enters adolescence, Jem creates distance between him and his younger sister, but he still thinks of himself as her protector. Jem is troubled by the unfairness he sees in society but thanks to his good upbringing he manages to resolve it while still believing in the goodness of people. He ends the story as someone who wants to protect the weak and innocent.
Atticus Finch, the father of Scout and Jem, is considered one of the greatest characters in all of the literature and is essential to any To Kill a Mockingbird character analysis. As a lawyer during Great Depression America, he is well-respected in society and has high moral standards. Atticus serves as the moral backbone of his town, using his position to affect positive change. When he decides to take on the case of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, most of the townspeople turn against him and his family, but his unwavering commitment to justice eventually wins them back.
Atticus is older than most of the other fathers in town and as a widower raises his children largely by himself. Though his children always respect him, their admiration evolves as the story progresses. Atticus doesn't hunt or fish like the other men in town and prefers solving situations with words rather than violence. His children learn from other sources that their father used to be one of the best shots in town and was well known for his bravery. By the end of the book, it is his intelligence, compassion, understanding, and moral bravery that truly make him respected by his children and by the town.
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Arthur Radley, known as Boo Radley throughout the book is a mysterious resident of the town who stays indoors and is almost never seen. Boo’s eccentric behavior makes him a source of gossip within the town, many people imagining him as an evil man. At the beginning of the story, the children are influenced by this gossip and are terrified not just of Boo Radley but of his entire property. As they grow older they play games daring each other to go closer and closer to the house.
He only makes an appearance at the end of the book, but his impact is felt throughout the story. He leaves small gifts for the children and finds other opportunities to help them. At the end of the book, he saves Scout and Jem from a deadly attack. Boo Radley does not change as a character throughout the story, rather it is the children's perception of him that changes. As young children, they see him as an oddity to be feared, but as they get older and understand his perspective, they see him as a good human being who has been ostracized by society. Boo Radley is one of the human mockingbirds in the To Kill a Mockingbird character analysis, somebody who is innocent and should not be harmed.
Charles Baker Harris, known as Dill in the book, is Scout and Jem's friend who comes to visit the town in the summer. Between the ages of the brother and sister, he is good friends with both of them. He has a very active imagination and is the one who starts the children's games about Boo Radley. As an outsider, he also shows the children a different perspective on life. He is more strongly affected by the racism and prejudice in Maycomb and bursts into tears when he sees the injustice at Tom Robinson's trial. His complicated home life also shows Scout and Jem how lucky they are to have Atticus and the other members of the household.
Calpurnia Is the Finch family’s cook and housekeeper. She joined the household after the death of Atticus’s wife and is considered an integral part of the family by Atticus. Scout describes her as strict and sometimes tyrannical but is also one of the only few women she respects. Calpurnia is the children's bridge to the African-American community. She is wise with experience and is one of the few people in town like Atticus who navigates the social divides. It is thanks to her that the children gain a deeper understanding of prejudice by going to her church.
Tom Robinson is the African-American field hand who is accused of raping Mayella Ewell and though he only appears later, he is one of the most important to Kill a Mockingbird main characters. He is married with children and is known to be well-mannered and hard-working. Even during the trial, he comes across as likable and honest. Even though it is clear that he is innocent, the jury still convicts him. Tom Robinson is one of the mockingbirds in the story. He only helped Mayella because he wanted to do something good, but was punished for his actions by a society who could not see past the color of his skin. He is eventually killed in an attempted prison escape.
Alexandra Hancock, or aunt Alexandra to Scout and Jem, is Atticus’s sister who comes to help take care of the household during Tom Robinson's trial. She is very different from her brother and has a strict code based on societal values. She is a typical example of what women at the time should be. She is critical of Scout’s appearance and behavior telling her she needs to be more like a lady and considers the Finch family superior to others. Scout is positively influenced by her when she sees the power of acting like a lady and despite her faults, aunt Alexandra is always there for her family.
Robert Ewell is Tom Robinson's main accuser and father of Mayella Ewell, the woman Tom is accused of raping. He is poor and ignorant, belonging to the lowest layer of Maycomb’s social strata. He is unemployed and drinks away his relief checks rather than taking care of his children. He is looked down upon by most people in the town and has an inferiority complex. He is infuriated when Tom Robinson says that he felt sorry for Mayella. After the trial, he spirals further downwards, eventually attacking Scout and Jem at the end of the book when he is killed in self-defense by Boo Radley.
The last main character in this To Kill a Mockingbird character analysis is Maudie Atkinson. She is the widowed neighbor of the Finch household. She is sharp and witty and becomes one of the few adult friends of the children. She is different from most of the townspeople and has values that align with Atticus’s. She treats everyone with respect regardless of race or age and defends Atticus, Tom Robinson, and Boo Radley. She serves as a role model for how to be a lady to Scout.
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To Kill a Mockingbird Characters Descriptions - Minor Characters
Miss Caroline Fisher is Scout’s first-grade teacher and a newcomer to Maycomb. She represents the idea of formal education in the book and tells Scout that she should not be learning at home when she finds out that Scout can already read and write. She also shows how difficult it is to understand the social dynamics of Maycomb through her interactions with Walter Cunningham Jr and Burris Ewell.
Walter Cunningham Jr
Walter Cunningham Jr also comes from one of the poorer families in Maycomb. He attends the first day of school without shoes or lunch. When Miss Fisher offers to lend him money for lunch, Scout explains to her that this is a mistake and he will refuse because his family cannot pay her back. His family is considered better than the Ewell’s though because his clothes are clean and the parents try to take care of him. Still, Aunt Alexandra does not want the kids hanging out with him because she considers their family trash.
Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose is a mean old lady that lives in the neighborhood and is hated by the children. When Jem destroys some of her flowers, the children are forced to go to her house every day for a month to read to her. After she dies Atticus explains to the children that she was overcoming a morphine addiction which was an incredibly difficult and brave thing to do. This helps the children see multiple sides of a human being.
Mayella Ewell is Bob Ewell’s eldest child and the white woman that Tom Robinson is accused of raping. Mayella Is looked down upon by the white community and faces the burden of taking care of her younger brothers and sisters. She tries to seduce Tom Robinson and when she fails, concocts the false accusation with her father.
Burris Ewell is the 10-year-old son of Bob Ewell who is still in first grade when Scout joins a school. He is a bully and makes Miss Fisher cry. He tells her that he only goes to school on the first day which leads to an important conversation Scout has with Atticus about education.
Nathan Radley is Boo Radley's overprotective elder brother. He is almost as mysterious as Boo, shooting at the children when they trespass and covering up the knothole where Boo left gifts but also helping Miss Maudie after the fire.
Dolphus Raymond comes from an old, rich, white family but has an African American wife and several mixed-race children. He prefers to be known as the town drunk so that people leave him alone and the children realize at the trial that the brown paper bag he's drinking out of most of the time is actually just coke.
Dr. Reynolds is one of the town doctors and a progressive thinker who agrees with Atticus.
Sheriff Heck Tate is another one of Maycomb’s progressive thinkers who convinces Atticus at the end of the book to go along with the story that Bob Ewell killed himself by accident to protect Boo Radley’s privacy.
Helen Robinson is Tom Robinson's wife and eventual widow who is harassed by Bob after the trial.
Uncle Jack is Atticus’s brother who the children are very fond of.
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