WJEC To Kill A Mockingbird notes

WJEC TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD REVISION NOTES. i used these for my exam last year and got an A*. sorry for any spelling mistakes. (:

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Background and context- 1930's America
Slavery wasn't abolished in America until 1865 and by then the idea that black people were inferior was the
norm in many places.
Even after the abolition of slavery, attitudes towards black people took a long time to change. In Maycomb,
black people don't have the same rights or opportunities that the white people have- they aren't entitled to
an education and can only get poorly paid jobs like cotton picking.
Because of the abolishment of slavery in 1865, hundreds of southern businesses now had to employ paid
staff to replace their unpaid slaves so their profits suffered.
In 1929 the stock market collapsed. Thousands of people lost their jobs and many couldn't make enough to
earn a living.
The southern states were hit hard by the collapse of the stock market because crop prices fell and the
southern economy was still recovering from the abolition of slavery.
The period between 1929 and the late 1930's is known as the great depression, People were very poor and
they wanted someone to blame for their poverty- people of different races were an easy target.
Although Maycomb is a fictional place, it could be any southern town- helps the reader see what life was really like in
Alabama at the time
The layout of the town is described in detail, characters familiar townspeople= Harper lee wants Maycomb to
b recognizable to show that prejudice can happen in any southern American town
There are lots of prejudices characters in the book but most have good qualities too= this shows how even
likable people often have prejudices- for many people racism was part of everyday life.
Nothing ever changes- even snow is really rare= this shows the town is stuck in its ways- it'll take ages to
change people attitudes.
The history of finch family
The history of the finch family is linked to the history of the south- their ancestor Simon finch had three slaves
who helped him build the family home. The family used to make their living by farming cotton,
Cotton was a major crop in the south and slaves were often used to harvest it.
There are lots of references in the novel to history and what it means to be a southern- this reminds you that
people views will be difficult to change because the past to still very important to them.
The great depression is what Atticus is talking about when he mentions that times are hard for people.
There's a lot of poverty in the book. Even the finches aren't wealthy. Scout says that "nickels and dimes were
hard to come by" and also "nothing to buy and no money to buy it with"
The great depression helps to explain why some people were so racist in Maycomb. A lot of landowners like
the Cunningham have blamed the end of slavery for loss of profit, land and status.
American society was racist in the 1930's
In 193s America, it was normal for white and black people to be segregated. In the south a black man could
risk being lynched (murdered by a mob) if he so much as looked at a white woman.
White people could be lynched for sympathising with black people.
But things were beginning to change by the 1950; s/
Black activists like martin Luther King began a series of peaceful protests- campaign for equality was known
as the civil rights movement.
When Harper lee wrote to kill a mockingbird in the 1950s, the civil rights movement was in full swing. Her
novel captured the mood of the time because it gave hope for the future,
Atticus tells Jem and scout that white people are "going to pay the bill" for their treatment of black people.
This is dramatic irony- when the book was published black Americans were campaigning for equality

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How does Harper Lee present the town of Maycomb in the novel?
Harper Lee bases Maycomb on the town of Monroeville in Alabama where she grew up. Maycomb is
portrayed as any town in America would have been in the 1930, the era in which the novel is set. Life in this
period was very tough. The American stock market collapsed, thousands of people lost their jobs and many
couldn't make enough to earn a living.…read more

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Scouts a tomboy- she spends most of her time playing with bys, hates wearing dresses and isn't afraid to get
into fights.
Scout doesn't just accept things- she's inquisitive and questions how people behave. For example, she
doesn't understand why Aunt Alexandra tells her not to say certain thing in front of Cal.
She has a bit of a temper- she punches Francis for calling Atticus a "nigger-lover"
But, her flaws make her a well-rounded, believable character.…read more

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Atticus also extends this lack of prejudice to Mayella Ewell who he treats as he would any other Maycomb
county lady; although she just believes he is mocking her, even though Scout and many others believe she is
pathetic and friendless.
He's very unprejudiced and completely against racism- "Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when
anything involving a Negro come up, is something I don't pretend to understand.…read more

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Scout starts to notice Jems maturity in chapter 6. She says "it was then, I suppose, that Jem and I first began
to Part Company"
Jem "broke the remaining code of our childhood" by telling Atticus about dill running away from home- he's
trying to be responsible.
He explains thing to scout like the court case- he understands things better than she does.…read more

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Unlike Atticus and Uncle Jack, Aunt Alexandra hasn't moved away from Finches landing this suggests she's not
as open minded as her brothers. She's the most conservative and prejudiced of the finches.
She's proud of her family and the background. She tried hard t make Scout and Jem understand the family
connection and to have pride in their family- with little success.…read more

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Everyone seems to have an opinion about the elder Mr.Radley. Miss Stephanie Crawford describes him as an
upright and God fearing man, but calpurnia says he's "the meanest man ever god blew breath into"
The Radley house is seen as frightening and mysterious. People avoid walking past it at night and fruit from
the garden is believed by schoolchildren to be poisonous.
The story hints that boo are mistreated.…read more

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He can be very innocent and childlike- he wants to marry scout and "get" a baby. Dills innocence and desire to
have a baby shows how much he wants to be part of a secure, loving family.
He runs away from things that make him unhappy
Dill doesn't feel loved by his parents.…read more

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She also teaches the children manners- she's furious with scout when she criticises Walter Cunningham's table
She isn't afraid to tell the children off- when she finds them in the courthouse she tells them they should be
"shamed of" them for being at the trial.
Atticus trusts Cal completely. When Scout complains that Cal is too strict Atticus responds "you mind her, you
She really cares about the finch family
She can be affectionate towards scout.…read more

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Scout describes Burris Ewell as the "filthiest human" she has ever seen
Mayella Ewell has a hard life
Mayella is the oldest of the Ewell children and has to take care of her younger siblings because their mothers
ir dead.…read more



Wow ! Amazing ! Just the thing to look at to help with revision.


Really good detailed.Exactly what I needed.

Paul Dutton

A very useful resource with plenty of information about the text. 


Very useful! :)




Really useful thankyou so much :))


absolutely brilliant thank you so much 


great detail.


Really useful notes thanks, i'm using these to revise for my upcoming exam!

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