Characters / To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch

An attorney, member of the state legislature, and father of Scout and Jem. Known for his skill with a rifle. He defends a black man named Tom Robinson who is accused of rape, and is referred to by his children by his first name, rather than "Dad" or "father".

  • Badass Bookworm: As a lawyer, words are his stock in trade.
  • Badass Pacifist: He sits outside the jailhouse unarmed to defend Tom Robinson from a lynch mob, and the defense he gives in the courtroom definitely counts.
  • Crusading Lawyer: The town's not mad that Atticus was assigned to defend a black man. The problem is, he's actually doing the job properly, which is tantamount to treason in the racist Deep South.
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • Determined Defeatist: Knows full well that the racist jury will never acquit Tom Robinson, even if all evidence points to his innocence. He gives his all in defending him anyway.
  • Does Not Like Guns: Despite his skill, he will only use a gun when absolutely necessary. His kids don't even know that he's capable of wielding a gun until he has to put down a rabid dog.
  • Expy: Atticus' character was based upon Harper Lee's father.
  • Gentleman and a Scholar
  • The Hero/Deuteragonist: Though the book is from Scout's 1st-person perspective, he's probably the real main character.
  • Knight in Sour Armour: Takes a dim view of the trial, but stays at it anyway.
  • Nice Guy: A compassionate true gentleman and a kind-hearted father.
  • Papa Wolf
  • Pro Bono Barter: He accepts foodstuffs from the Cunninghams because they can't afford the fees and are too proud not to pay.
  • Retired Badass: Used to be a good sharpshooter. He also won't join the father's football team with the excuse that he's too old.
  • Simple Country Lawyer: Averted. Atticus is a brilliant lawyer, and also very ethical.

Jean Louise "Scout" Finch

The narrator and protagonist of the novel.

  • Author Avatar: She's just like Harper Lee was as a little girl.
  • Boyish Short Hair: In the movie (her hair length is not mentioned in the book, only that she has bangs).
  • Character Development: The book is a coming-of-age story for her.
  • Decoy Protagonist: It is told from her point-of-view, but since she's a kid, she's more of a witness to events.
  • Missing Mom: Her mother died when she was two. Jem remembers her but Scout doesn't.
  • Plucky Girl
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: How she narrates the story.
  • Tomboy: Especially by 1930's standards, anyway. She doesn't like dresses, she plays with boys, and considers "you act like a girl" an insult.
  • Tomboyish Name: Prefers being called Scout.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Being just a child and all. She doesn't really understand why the lynch mob is at the jail house, only that they might hurt her father, and disarms them by talking to Mr. Cunningham.

Jeremy "Jem" Finch

Scout's older brother.

  • Big Brother Bully: He acts like this towards Scout pretty often.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Yet when they're attacked at the end of the book, he does everything possible to protect her. Which isn't much, given how young he is, but he still screams at her to run and tries to pull her to safety.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: He thinks so: Being forced to read to the repulsive old lady who insulted his mother while she goes into withdrawal from morphine because he cut up her flowers. In reality, he is being taught an important lesson about respect and bravery.
  • Innocence Lost: More so than Scout, as Jem understands more of the social issues in his community and has a hard time meshing those racist values with people he grew up liking and respecting. Also, his belief in the legal system is shattered after the trial.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold
  • Missing Mom
  • Scars Are Forever: Not "scar" as such, but the very first sentences of the book describe how Jem's arm was broken close to the elbow, which made it noticably shorter than it should be from then on. It happens in the climax of the book.

Calpurnia "Cal"

Housekeeper of the Finch family and strict mother figure to Scout and Jem. Despite being black, she is able to read and write, and is the one who taught Scout to read and write.

  • Kindly Housekeeper: She treats Scout and Jem like her kids. Granted, it means disciplining them sometimes.
  • Mama Bear: She may not be their mom, but that doesn't stop her from protecting Scout and Jem.

Charles Baker "Dill" Harris

An intelligent and imaginative boy whom Jem and Scout befriend. His carefree attitude hides his inner pain over his parents' divorce and his mother's alcoholism.

Nathan Radley

The old father of Arthur "Boo" Radley who imprisoned his son in their house for years.

Arthur "Boo" Radley

A quiet and reclusive young man and neighbor to the Finches. He is almost never let out of his house and is a mysterious figure to Maycomb, often leading to rumors of just who he is.

Maude "Maudie" Atkinson

Another neighbor of the Finches and childhood acquaintance of Atticus. Whenever Scout has no one to talk to, she usually talks with Maudie. She also loves baking Lane cakes.

  • Cool Old Lady: Wins a quote-off with some Bible-thumpin' fundamentalists that criticize her vibrant garden.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Scout occasionally compares her wisdom to her father's.
  • Gray Eyes
  • Nature Lover: Spends all of her time out in her garden.
  • The Pollyanna: Even after her house burns down, she still mainly talks about how much bigger she'll make her garden be for her next house.
  • Title Drop: "Remember, it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Robert E. Lee "Bob" Ewell

Main antagonist of the novel. Accuses Tom Robinson of raping his daughter Mayella and successfully lands him in jail.

  • Abusive Parents: Physically abuses Mayella, and it's strongly implied that he sexually abuses her as well.
  • Big Bad: Or as close as you can get in the book — his actions set the plot into motion and heavily impact the main characters.
  • Corrupt Hick: Oh yeah. Racist, impoverished, possibly sexually abusive of his own daughter, and spending his few welfare checks on alcohol.
  • Dirty Coward: He won't confront the best marksman in town, but he will try to kill his children while they're walking home in the dark.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: What motivates him throughout the novel, such as when he tries to break into a judge's house.
  • Evil Is Petty: Sometimes yes. Sometimes not.
  • Ironic Name: He's really not worthy of being named after Robert E. Lee.
  • Jerkass
  • Kick the Dog: Harassing Tom Robinson, and even after his conviction and death, stalks and harasses his widow as well.
  • Lower-Class Lout
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Robert E. Lee
  • The Pig Pen
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: To the point where Robert E. Lee himself would be turning in his grave if he heard such a lout bore his name.
  • A Sinister Clue: Atticus points out in court that Mayella's injuries were caused by someone left-handed. Like her dad.
    • Technically, Ewell's ambidextrous (can use "one hand as good as the other"), but given that the defendant can't use their left hand....
  • The Sociopath: He's an abusive father with no concern for his family, he threatens anyone who rubs him the wrong way, he forces his daughter to falsely accuse her friend of rape, and he tries to murder Atticus' children.
  • Stupid Evil
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Subverted: Everyone knows that Ewell is a total slime. He only wins against Tom because he is white in a backwards Southern town. And the trial only reveals more unsavory facts, driving him into his vengeful rampage later in the book.
  • Would Hurt a Child

Mayella Ewell

Accuser of being raped by Tom Robinson.

  • All of the Other Reindeer
  • Asshole Victim: Debatably. She's from a pretty messed-up family and isn't a nice person at all, but it's possible she's only like this because of her father.
  • Broken Bird: Her life has very little good in it. When Atticus addresses her with basic courtesy, she thinks he's mocking her.
  • Friendless Background: She is too busy trying to control/care for her many siblings and trying (but failing) to keep their home clean that she has no friends. Part of the reason as to why she came onto Tom, as he was the only person who did not treat her badly because she was "trash", and was friendly to her.
  • Missing Mom: Became a Parental Substitute to her siblings after Mrs. Ewell died.
  • Promoted To Parent: After Boo kills her father to protect Scout and Jem. This is actually a promotion in every sense of the word, considering how awful Mr. Ewell was.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: No one intervenes to help the Ewell family, despite its many problems. Justified, as social services would have been underdeveloped at the time the novel takes place.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Mayella's life has been one long procession of pain. She loses her mother at a young age, endures physical (and possibly sexual) abuse from her father, lives in poverty and squalor, struggles to raise her siblings alone, has no friends, and is an outcast because of her "white trash" background. After she comes onto Tom, the only person who showed her kindness, her father forced her to falsely accuse Tom of rape.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds

Tom Robinson

Black man accused of raping and assaulting Mayella Ewell. His left arm is crippled, which becomes a vital point in his trial. Despite Atticus's efforts, he is found guilty and imprisoned.

  • Nice Guy: He was one of the only people who treated Mayella with kindness, and pitied her even as she ruined his life.
  • Red Right Hand: Averted; it's actually a plot point that his left hand is damaged beyond repair. Mayella's injuries were from a left-handed assailant.
  • Scary Black Man: Averted big-time; he's a fairly intimidating guy, but has a gentle soul.
  • Suicide by Cop: One way of perceiving his death.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth