Harper Lee is an eminent author for her novel To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel was a resounding success and resulted in Lee winning the Pulitzer Prize. The common themes depicted in the novel include a young girl’s coming-of-age, racism, and prejudice. The novel To Kill Mockingbird centers on the lives of Harper Lee and her family. Additionally, the book introduces several characters based on adults in Lee’s life. This essay focuses on Harper Lee’s life, achievements, and how the novel reflects on different elements of her life. This essay also delves into her family’s impact on making the novel an outstanding masterpiece.
Born to Frances Finch and Amasa Coleman in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama, Harper Lee was the last born among her three siblings (“Women’s history month: Harper Lee,” 2017). Her father was a lawyer and worked in Monroeville town. Lee’s mother was thought to have bipolar illness and hardly left the house as Lee grew up (“Women’s history month: Harper Lee,” 2017). While at seven years old, Harper Lee developed a passion for writing and later began composing short stories. Throughout her high-school years, Lee enrolled in public schools and was passionate about English and literature. Lee completed her high-school education in 1944 and enrolled at Huntingdon College, a female institution. Harper Lee transferred to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa to finish her legal studies. She dropped out of school in 1950, just six months short of completing her law degree to pursue her ambition of becoming an author.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a fictitious story based on the Maycomb town in Alabama. The backdrop to the story takes place from 1929 to 1939, a critical phase in America’s history, signified by the Great Depression (Lincove, 2018). The novel’s main characters are Jean Louise, Atticus, and Jeremy. In the novel, the main characters adopt the surname Finch borrowed from Harper Lee’s mother. Atticus is a widower, a father, and a famous lawyer, and his character resembles Harper’s father, Amasa Lee.
The book serves as an introduction to the world of adolescence of Scout and her siblings. The novel illustrates Scout’s growth from age six to nine while making choices based on intellect and uncommon methods for many children of her age. The story also delves into racism and discrimination themes in society (Liu, 2019). Like Harper’s father, Scout’s father defended Tom Robinson from the false indictment of raping Mayella Ewell. Tom was a black man, while Ewell was a white woman signifying the magnitude of racial inequality. Subsequently, the other white children in the neighborhood tortured and cruelly treated Atticus’ children (Sastrawijaya, 2021). Lee created Charles Baker “Dill” Harris’s character based on her closest friend and neighbor, Truman Capote. Similar to Atticus and Dill, Lee mentioned her mother’s death. The pain incurred from the loss of her mother significantly influenced Lee in writing the plotline of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Harper Lee is currently a top celebrated author for her outstanding literary prowess in writing To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel closely reflects on Lee, her family, and her friends’ lives. She was born in 1926 and raised by her parents Frances Finch and Amasa Coleman. The success of her novel led her to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. The novel excellently addresses such themes as racism, discrimination, and growth. Lee spent most of her adult life in New York, where she followed her literary dream. The novel depicts different elements of her life as well as her approach to various topics. Her parents and her closest friend are the central characters of her book To Kill a Mockingbird.
Lincove, D. (2018). Book review: The Great Depression and the New Deal: Key themes and documents. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 57(4), 306-307.
Liu, K. (2019). Harper Lee, “To kill a mockingbird”. The Banned Books Project.
Sastrawijaya, M. D. (2021). The character and moral values in “To kill a mockingbird” by Harper Lee. Inference: Journal of English Language Teaching, 3(1), 81-87.
Women’s history month: Harper Lee. (2017). English | Colorado State University.