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To Kill a Mockingbird:

The social and historical context of the novel:

American slavery
Black people were originally brought from Africa to America during the 17th, 18th and 19th
centuries. They were forcibly transported across the Atlantic in slave ships (in which many
died) and sold as slaves to work…

Page 2

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The Scottsboro case
In 1931 when Harper Lee was 5, nine young black men were accused of raping two white
women on a train.
After a series of bitter trials, four of the men were sentenced to long prison sentences even
though prominent lawyers argued that the accusations were false.…

Page 3

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Cunningham, from a very poor family, cannot borrow money for lunch as he will not be able
to pay it back. Jem invites Walter to lunch with them.

Chapters 4 6

The gifthole in the
Jem and Scout find gifts, apparently left for them, in the knothole of a…

Page 4

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The fire at Miss Maudie's house
That autumn, Scout and Jem find more presents in the knothole, including a watch, a spelling
medal and two figures of the children carved from soap. They realise the gifts must be from
Boo. Just when they are about to deliver a note of…

Page 5

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Reading to Mrs Dubose
When old Mrs Dubose also insults the children because of Atticus' involvement in Tom
Robinson's case, Jem is so furious that he beheads every camellia in her yard. As a
punishment, Jem has to read to her every night for a month. When she dies, Atticus…

Page 6

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Tom in jail while Atticus talks to the mob
A deputation of local men tries to persuade Atticus not to take
Tom's case, but he refuses. The night before his trial, Tom is
brought to Maycomb jail and Atticus plans to sit outside during
the night. Jem, Scout and Dill…

Page 7

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Ewell, Mayella Ewell and Tom Robinson, that Mr Ewell and Mayella are lying. Far from
being raped by Tom Robinson, Mayella had actually led him on and when her father
discovered her he had beaten her.
Taking a break from the trial, Dill and Scout talk with Mr Raymond outside…

Page 8

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Back at school, Scout learns about Hitler's treatment of the Jews and is amazed that no one
in Maycomb seems able to connect that to the racism in the town.
Mr Ewell tries to break into Judge Taylor's house and menaces Tom Robinson's widow.

They are both attacked on

Page 9

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While Jem is still unconscious after the attack, Scout tells her story. It dawns on her slowly
that the person who rescued them and who has stood shyly in the corner of the room
throughout her explanation is Boo Radley.
Unusually for him, Atticus takes a while to realise exactly…

Page 10

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She is very intelligent - she could read and write before she
started school. She hates school because she is bored and feels
stifled, and tries to persuade Atticus not to make her go.
She is a tomboy - she is insulted when Jem says to her "I declare


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