To Kill a Mockingbird Author:Harper Lee The story takes place during three years of the Great Depression. The narrator, six-year-old Scout Finch, lives with her older brother Jem and their widowed father Atticus, a middle-aged lawyer. Jem and Scout befriend a boy named Dill who visits Maycomb to stay with his Aunt Rachel for the summer. The three children are terrified by, and fascina... more »ted with, their neighbor, the reclusive "Boo" Radley. The adults of Maycomb are hesitant to talk about Boo and for many years, few have seen him. The children feed each other's imaginations with rampant rumors about his grotesque appearance and his reasons for remaining hidden, while they dream of ways to get him to come out of his house. Following two summers of friendship with Dill, Scout and Jem find that someone is leaving them small gifts in a tree outside the Radley place. Several times, the mysterious Boo makes gestures of affection to the children, but, to their disappointment, never appears in person.
Atticus is assigned to defend a black man named Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a young white woman. Although many of Maycomb's citizens disapprove, Atticus agrees to defend Tom to the best of his ability.
Because Atticus does not want them to be present at Tom Robinson's trial, Scout, Jem and Dill watch in secret from the colored balcony. Atticus establishes that the accusers?Mayella and her father and the town drunk, Bob Ewell?are lying. It also becomes clear that the friendless Mayella was making sexual advances towards Tom and that her father caught her in the act. Despite significant evidence of Tom's innocence, he is convicted. Jem's faith in justice is badly shaken, as is Atticus', when a hopeless Tom is shot and killed while trying to escape from prison.
Bob Ewell is humiliated by the trial and vows revenge. He spits in Atticus' face on the street, tries to break into the judge's house, and menaces Tom Robinson's widow. Finally, he attacks the defenseless Jem and Scout as they walk home from a Halloween pageant at their school. Jem's arm is broken in the struggle, but, amid the confusion, someone comes to their rescue. The mysterious man carries Jem home, where Scout eventually recognizes him as the reclusive Boo Radley.
Maycomb's sheriff arrives and discovers that Bob Ewell has been killed. The sheriff argues with Atticus about the prudence and ethics of holding Jem or Boo responsible. Atticus eventually accepts the sheriff's story that Ewell simply fell on his own knife. Boo asks Scout to walk him home, and after she says goodbye to him at his front door, he disappears again. While standing on the Radley porch, Scout imagines life from Boo's perspective and regrets that they never repaid him for the gifts he had given them.« less