Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents

Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents

Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents

Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird: A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historic Documents

Synopsis

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel of such profound power that it has affected the lives of readers and left an indelible mark on American culture. This rich collection of historical documents, collateral readings, and commentary captures the essence of the novel's impact, making it an ideal resource for students, teachers, and library media specialists. Drawing on multi-disciplinary sources, the casebook places the issues of race, censorship, stereotyping, and heroism into sharp perspective. Through these documents, the reader also gains a taste for the historical events which influenced the novel as well as the novel's relevance in today's world. Among the documents which speak most eloquently are testimony from the Scottsboro Case of the 1930s, memoirs and interviews with African Americans and whites who grew up in Alabama in the 1930s, and news stories on civil rights activities in Alabama in the 1950s. More recent articles include a debate between lawyers over whether Atticus Finch was a hero,and discussions of attempts to censor the novel. Most of the documents presented are available in no other print form. Study questions, project ideas, and bibliographies are also included for ease of use in further examination of the issues raised by the novel. Thirteen historical photos complement the text.

Excerpt

To Kill a Mockingbird is unquestionably one of the most widely read, best-selling, and influential books in American literature. It has made a significant difference in the lives of individuals and in the culture as a whole. An indication of the novel's impact on its readers is found in a "Survey of Lifetime Reading Habits" conducted by the Book-of-the-Month-Club and the Library of Congress's Center for the Book in 1991. Using 5,000 respondents, the researchers found that one of the three books "most often cited as making a difference" in people's lives was Harper Lee To Kill a Mockingbird (it was second only to the Bible).

How and why has Lee's novel made a difference? Part of its immediate appeal can be explained by its sensitive and insightful portrayal of race relations in Alabama at a time when the battle for integration and equal rights was at its height in America, and when much of the action was centering on Alabama. But the novel's impact has not been restricted to the period in which it emerged. Its influence has been enduring because it allows the reader, through the lives of children, "to walk around in the shoes" (as its main character says) of people who are different from ourselves. The novel challenges our stereotypes--of the Southerner, the African- American, the eccentric, the child, the young lady. At the same time . . .

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