©2023 Fable Group Inc.

To Kill A Mockingbird Quotes, Themes, and Meaning: The Fable Reading Guide

To Kill a Mockingbird

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.” ― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

'To Kill A Mockingbird' is a beloved coming of age novel that explores racial prejudice and injustice. It has resonated with readers of all backgrounds ever since being published during the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Despite being an instant success upon publication and even winning the Pulitzer Prize, the book has been challenged by book bans everywhere. Join the Authors Guild Banned Books Club as they read 'To Kill A Mockingbird'!You can read 'To Kill A Mockingbird' HERE on Fable!

What is the main message of 'To Kill A Mockingbird'?

For many, the main message of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' is the exploration of the moral nature of human beings, and determining whether humans are inherently good or evil. The book specifically examines the roots and consequences of racism and prejudice, encouraging a discussion about how good and evil can coexist within a community, or a single individual. While 'To Kill A Mockingbird' consists of many timeless themes, the three main themes are courage, prejudice, and family life.

Why is 'To Kill A Mockingbird' a banned book?

It's no secret that people are sensitive to issues of race and topics of racism in the United States. 'To Kill A Mockingbird' caught a lot of backlash for its racial content when it was first published and it still gets challenged today. The book was banned and challenged for its use of racial slurs and its perception of Black people, as well as featuring a "white savior" character. One reason for banning said "it just makes people uncomfortable", according to James LaRue, director of American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom. One of the book's earliest challenges occurred in 1966 in Hanover County, Virginia, where the school board wanted to remove the book because they considered it to be "immoral" due to its theme of rape. The book stayed after the school board changed their minds when residents complained about their desire to challenge the book in local papers. Later in the 1970s and 1980s, people, mostly school boards and parents, challenged the book for having "trashy" or "filthy" content. While the book might make some people uncomfortable, it raises important topics for necessary discussions that must be had about race and equality. Sometimes that discomfort is the very thing that provokes engaged and thoughtful readers. Another important discussion many readers have is whether Harper Lee is the right person to teach others about racism. Some argue no, since Lee is a white person writing the book through a white lens with white characters. Atticus Finch, who is the main hero of the book, defends a Black man, Tom Robinson, after he is accused of rape. Atticus' role in the book can be seen as one of a white savior, especially from the point of view of the narrator, who is his daughter and looks up to him. While it's important to challenge ideas and analyze literature, especially those that make us uncomfortable, it's important to understand that being uncomfortable is not necessarily bad. Discomfort is a catalyst for growth and an important barrier to overcome in learning about difficult things.

Is 'To Kill A Mockingbird' Serious?

As it deals with the trial of a Black man, who was accused of rape, and racism, it's fair to say that 'To Kill A Mockingbird is a serious book. It is taught in many schools and intended to be analyzed and taken seriously with careful and sincere consideration. Not only that, but the book contains profanity and scenes that might be hard for younger audiences to read.

Did Harper Lee ever write again?

Despite being a majorly successful best selling author, who even won the Pulitzer Prize for 'To Kill a Mockingbird', Harper Lee only ever wrote two novels. Her second book, 'Go Set a Watchman', was at first considered to be a sequel to 'Mockingbird', but was later revealed to be more like an early draft. 'Go Set a Watchman' was published in 2015, just a year before Lee's death and five decades after the publication of her first book. Many people have wondered why Lee did not publish more, and whether she wrote anything else at all, even if it was not released to the public.Harper Lee's sister, Alice Finch Lee, hinted that the success of 'Mockingbird' might have put Harper Lee off from writing and publishing more stories. Harper Lee said herself in a 1964 interview with Roy Newquist, that the novel's success "was like being hit over the head and knocked cold." She never expected the book to sell at all, so when it outsold and became a one of the most popular classic books in the US, she was overwhelmed. "I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of reviewers, but at the same time I sort of hoped that maybe someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I'd expected." Her sister also mentioned Harper Lee perhaps feeling nervous about writing more after a success as big as 'Mockingbird': "When you have hit the pinnacle, how would you feel about writing more? Would you feel like you're competing with yourself?”Even though Harper Lee did not publish novels for over 50 years between 'Mockingbird' and 'Go Set a Watchman', she was still writing and making plans for more books. She spent time working on a second Southern novel, about which, we might never learn. In the late 1970s, Lee worked on a true crime book called 'The Reverend.' It followed a preacher in Alabama, who was accused of being a serial killer. But later, in 1987, Lee said in a letter "I do not have enough hard facts about the actual crimes for a book-length account.”

Why are 'To Kill a Mockingbird' and Harper Lee So Important?

Harper Lee created a story that is responsible for a major shift and resonance across cultural lines during the Civil Rights Movement. Her depiction of racism and prejudice is widely acclaimed. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is important because it provided American students with a relatable story about racial injustice that would not only teach them about racism during a certain time period, but also be timeliness and applicable to contemporary society.

Popular Quotes from 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” ― Harper Lee

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.” ― Harper Lee

“The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.” ― Harper Lee

“Sometimes the Bible in the hand of one man is worse than a whisky bottle in the hand of (another)... There are just some kind of men who - who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results.” ― Harper Lee

“Neighbors bring food with death and flowers with sickness and little things in between. Boo was our neighbor. He gave us two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and our lives. But neighbors give in return. We never put back into the tree what we took out of it: we had given him nothing, and it made me sad.” ― Harper Lee

“You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't.” ― Harper Lee

“I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year.” ― Harper Lee

“Things are always better in the morning.” ― Harper Lee

“If there's just one kind of folks, why can't they get along with each other? If they're all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? Scout, I think I'm beginning to understand something. I think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time. It's because he wants to stay inside.” ― Harper Lee

“We're paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It's that simple.” ― Harper Lee

“Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.” ― Harper Lee

“When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em.” ― Harper Lee

“You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don't you let 'em get your goat. Try fightin' with your head for a change.” ― Harper Lee

“With him, life was routine; without him, life was unbearable.” ― Harper Lee

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” ― Harper Lee

“People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.” ― Harper Lee

“As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it—whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash” ― Harper Lee

“Atticus, he was real nice." "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.” ― Harper Lee

“Let the dead bury the dead.” ― Harper Lee

“I say guilt, gentlemen, because it was guilt that motivated her. She has committed no crime, she has merely broken a rigid and time-honored code of our society.” ― Harper Lee

Join the Authors Guild Banned Books Club as they read 'To Kill A Mockingbird'!You can read 'To Kill A Mockingbird' HERE on Fable!

Notification Icon