Literature / To Kill a Mockingbird

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"'...shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.' That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. 'Your father's right,' she said. '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.'"

To Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning 1960 novel by Harper Lee, set in the Depression-era Deep South and revolving around six-year-old Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, her brother Jem and their lawyer father Atticus. During the course of the novel Atticus defends a black man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of rape.

Despite (or possibly because of) its near-universal acclaim and status as a classic, this was the only book Harper Lee ever published during the 20th century. In 2015, news broke out that she would publish Go Set a Watchman, a rejected manuscript written before To Kill a Mockingbird set in The '50s and featuring many of the same characters, including an adult Scout and an aging Atticus.

In 1962, To Kill a Mockingbird was made into a film directed by Robert Mulligan and starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, probably his most well-known role today. For the rest of his life, he gladly named it his favorite of his many roles.

Tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Bob Ewell, who seems to hardly care about his younger children and is heavily implied to have beaten and raped his own eldest daughter, Mayella.
  • Acquitted Too Late: Tom Robinson ends up being found guilty, despite the best efforts of Atticus to try to convince the juries not to convict him because he's an African American. Atticus tries to get a re-trial, but Tom is killed while trying to escape prison before he can.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The film removes a few sub-plots, but keeps the main plot like it was and is very faithful to the book. Harper Lee herself oversaw the beginning of filming, but after three weeks she "took off when she realized everything would be fine without her".
  • Adaptation Explanation Extrication: When the children can't find a spot on the packed floor of the courthouse, the black pastor, Rev. Sykes, finds them a seat in the balcony. In the book, they are on friendly terms with Sykes because they once visited his church; in the film, their acquaintanceship with him is unexplained.
  • Adult Fear: Atticus's courage is unquestionable, but he's badly and understandably shaken when his children are endangered.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Bob Ewell.
  • Amateur Cast: Scout and Jem were played in the film by Mary Badham and Phillip Alford, local kids from near the shooting site. Neither had any acting experience. Alford had a few TV roles later, while Badham was cast in several film and TV productions, notably as Sport Sharewood in The Twilight Zone and Willie in This Property Is Condemned, where she sings "Wish Me a Rainbow". A heavy Alabama accent prevented her from moving on to an adult acting career. John Megna (Dill) was the only kid in the cast with substantial acting experience, most of it on Broadway. He went on to do many films and TV episodes (he was the "Bonk bonk on the head!" kid from the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Miri") before dying of AIDS at 42.
  • Amoral Attorney: Averted on both sides: Although Atticus didn't want the case, after he was appointed to defend Tom Robinson, he saw it as his duty to defend his client to the best of his abilities, and was emotionally devastated by the outcome. Meanwhile, the prosecutor is just seen as doing his job, with Scout suspecting he deliberately held back on the cross-examination.
  • Animal Motifs: Tom Robinson. The Finch family. Ewell is repeatedly compared to a rooster to complete the bird imagery — meaningfully, the only flightless bird of the bunch. And of course, the mockingbird itself providing the book with its title.
  • Are You Sure You Want to Do That?: Atticus uses it several times in Scout's earlier years before the story as a warning during checkers matches that she was about to make a mistake: Scout never took the warning and always got trounced when she ignored it. The second time uses it for drama in a climactic moment that displays Atticus' bravery as he faces down a lynch mob, and, after asking them what they are here for, asks the question.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: A group of men ready to lynch Tom is stopped dead by Scout when she asks one of them how his entailment (i.e.: an inheritance problem) is coming along. In this case, it's not specifically the question that's armor-piercing so much is that it's coming from the innocent young daughter of Tom's defense lawyer — it breaks the men out of their mob mentality and they quickly disperse in embarrassment, much to the confusion of Scout, who was only trying to make small talk.
  • Asshole Victim: Bob Ewell at the end, for many reasons listed on this page.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: From the gossip at a ladies' missionary circle meeting: "Yes sir, Mrs. Perkins, that J. Grimes Everett is a martyred saint, he... needed to get married so they ran... to the beauty parlor every Saturday afternoon... soon as the sun goes down. He goes to bed with the... chickens, a crate full of sick chickens, Fred says that’s what started it all. Fred says...”
  • Ate His Gun: Dolphus Raymond's fiancée does this on their wedding day.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Atticus Finch. Dolphus Raymond.
  • Badass Baritone: Atticus, as played by Gregory Peck.
  • Badass Bookworm: Atticus' surprised children learn he is the best shot in the county when he is asked to kill a rabid dog.
  • Badass Pacifist: Atticus Finch. He is spat upon by Bob Ewell. Atticus looks the man in the eye as he wipes the spit off with a handkerchief, and it is apparent that the man is intimidated by Atticus' mere presence. Atticus leaves without laying a hand on the contemptible man, but it is clear who the stronger of the two is.
  • Barefoot Poverty: Walter Cunningham. As a result of going barefooted in barnyards, he also gets hookworms. Scout notes that plenty of the farm kids wear shoes the first day of school and discard them until it gets cold.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: Arguably the reason why Boo Radley began to leave gifts for the children and saved them. They didn't mock him or shun him, they merely took an interest in him, and it amused him and made him happy.
  • Black Comedy: Lampshaded by Scout (as narrator) during the attempted lynching. Quote: "A sickeningly comic aspect of an unfunny situation."
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Dolphus Raymond is a white man who has children with a black woman — although he has to pretend to be the town drunk so that the town can deal with it. A white man fathering children with a black woman was unremarkable. What the other white residents couldn't forgive him for was actually acknowledging his children and living with his family in the black part of town.
  • Big Bad: Bob Ewell is the one who really beat Mayella.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Boo Radley saving the siblings!
    • Whilst not quite as awesome as the above example, Scout and Jem's neighbour Mr. Avery manages to get one when he tries to help when Miss Maudie's house catches fire.
    • The rabid dog scene.
    • And a more pragmatic one: After the Shaming the Mob episode in front of the jail, Braxton Underwood reveals that he was sitting in his window with a shotgun the whole time.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Tom Robinson is falsely convicted and is shot dead by cops and Atticus' faith in the Justice system has taken a big hit as a result. But Bob Ewell is killed and his name made a laughingstock and Scout becomes friends with Boo Radley, with the implication that he may be better understood by the community. Not to mention that the sheriff lets Boo off the hook for killing Bob to save the children and without her abusive father around, Mayella will probably be able to move on to a better life.
  • Bookworm: Atticus takes a lamp and a book and sits in front of the jail reading on the night when a lynch mob comes for Tom Robinson.
  • Boyish Short Hair: Scout in the movie (her hair length is not mentioned in the book, only that she has bangs).
  • Calling Parents by Their Name: Scout and her brother address their father as 'Atticus', to show that they have a fairly egalitarian relationship.
  • Catchphrase: "Catchphrase" is perhaps too flippant a description of it, but Atticus often comforts Scout and Jem by telling them, "It's not time to worry yet."
  • Central Theme: Racism-based conflict from a child's point of view.
  • Childhood Marriage Promise: Dill and Scout, most likely not meant to be taken seriously. Well, certainly not once you learn that Dill was based on Harper's childhood friend Truman Capote.
  • Children Are Innocent: Scout and Jem's relatively innocent personalities and their father's liberal influence means that they don't fully comprehend the systemic racism in their town. Jem's naïve confidence that Tom will be acquitted is the biggest example. It's the reason for the books Non-P.O.V. Protagonist. We can see Tom's trial through the eyes of Scout, who lacks the cynicism and casual racism of the adults and see how tragic and incomprehensible it really is.
  • Clear Their Name: The main plot and an iconic example in American literature. It's all the more tragic because Atticus proves Tom innocent so conclusively that pretty much EVERYONE knows the truth — but he's convicted, sentenced and ultimately killed while trying to escape just because he's black. The circumstances of his death are different in the movie: Tom doesn't even make it to the sentencing, dying after getting struck by what was supposed to be just a warning shot as he escaped the vehicle that was taking him back to the prison to await sentencing, since he didn't believe that the sheriff would be able to keep him safe.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Dill.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: To a certain extent, this is one for Jem and Scout.
  • Common Nonsense Jury: An iconic example, convicting Tom Robinson on the word of an obvious liar and his emotionally fragile daughter. Atticus believes that the entirety of the time spent deliberating was an attempt to talk down the one juror who didn't want to convict.
  • Composite Character: In the film, Miss Rachel (Dill's alcoholic aunt) and Miss Stephanie (the town gossip) were merged so that Stephanie became Dill's aunt. Nathan Radley Sr. and Jr. were also combined, though given how minor both are this doesn't affect the plot in any meaningful way.
  • Consummate Liar: Dill lies effortlessly, but usually also thoughtlessly, resulting in ridiculous tall tales that he seems to nearly believe. When he does put his mind to it, he can weasel out of trouble this way.
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: Invoked almost word for word by Atticus Finch. The public decided long before the trial that Tom Robinson, a black man, was guilty of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman, because this was Alabama in the 1930s.
  • Cool Old Guy: Atticus Finch. Hell, one of his responses to an argument is something along the lines of stating "You think you're about to win?", which he only said when he knew he would win an argument, or had a back up plan for what they were about to say. He's the model of a father that every child wants.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much:
    • After learning how Bob Ewell died (killed by Boo Radley when he'd tried to kill Scout and Jem), Sheriff Tate tells Atticus that his official story will be that Bob fell and impaled himself on his own knife. Given the nature of Bob's actual killer, Atticus understands the Sheriff's decision, as does Scout.
    • Also subtly implied to be Atticus's view on the death of Tom Robinson, who supposedly was killed while trying to escape prison. We're never given definitive proof on whether or not this was actually true, but Atticus's brief comment on the subject casts a crumb of doubt:
    Atticus: They didn't have to shoot him so many times.
  • Corrupt Hick:
    • Bob Ewell has this trope down to a science, what with accusing Tom Robinson of rape, probably responsible for the (physical and sexual) abuse of his daughter, attempting to kill Scout and Jem and being an all-around not-nice person. This is nicely averted by the town sheriff Heck Tate, however, who is quite a kind man. There is also Link Deas, Tom's employer, who risks jail to stand up in court and speak out of turn bearing witness to Tom's integrity. It should be noted that even though Bob Ewell and his brood are considered the lowest of the low, the townsfolk only take his word instead of Tom Robinson's because Bob is white.
    • The biggest aversion of this trope comes in the Cunningham family. They're so poor that little Walter Cunningham can't have lunch every day, but Atticus points out that the family is scrupulously honest, and pay in potatoes if they can't pay in cash.
  • Corruption of a Minor: Subverted. When Dill is crying during Tom's trial, he and Scout go outside and talk to Dolphus Raymond, the town's alcoholic. To help Dill stop crying, he offers him a drink out of his paper sack. Scout tries to warn Dill against it, but it turns out that it's just soda, and Raymond only pretends to be an alcoholic so the townsfolk can think that's the reason he lives with a black woman.
  • Covers Always Lie: Downplayed. It is a divided book, with its first half being an episodic Coming of Age story of a tomboyish girl in the South, and its second half being a focused narrative about the deepest ugliness of racial prejudice, class resentment, and pure human spite. Covers will either show a little girl (meant to be Scout, the narrator) or they'll be nonindicative of either plotline (for example, a tree.)
  • Crusading Lawyer: Atticus, who works pro-bono some cases. Downplayed in that he prefers a peaceful probate practice and doesn't actively seek out causes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Atticus is an unusually benevolent version.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the film, Tom Robinson is shot and killed by police on the night of his conviction. In the novel, he dies while trying to escape from prison several months later.
  • Death Glare: Atticus, in true So-Called Coward fashion, deploys a death glare now and then.
    Atticus turned his head and pinned me to the wall with his good eye.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Scout narrates the story from the very beginning, but a few chapters later it becomes evident that Atticus is the protagonist.
  • Deep South: The fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, which is based on Harper Lee's hometown of Monroeville.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Parental Incest was a common reality in the time and place of the story. Collin Wilcox Paxton stated in Fearful Symmetry that she deliberately played Mayella this way. She revealed that girls like Mayella were common in rural North Carolina where she grew up, and it was taken for granted that they were molested, usually by a father or uncle.
  • Delivery Stork: Dill tells Scout that you get babies from an island where they are gathered like flowers. Scout, who had previously been told that babies are dropped down the chimney by God, is skeptical.
  • Determined Defeatist: Atticus 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, because no one else will, and it's the right thing to do.
  • Dirty Coward: Bob Ewell. He can't go after the best shot in Maycomb County, so he'll go after his children when they're walking home in the dark instead.
  • Disappeared Dad: Alluded to in Dill's case, although at first he lies about it and claims his father is president of a railroad.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When Atticus Finch embarrasses Bob Ewell at the trial, Bob Ewell takes revenge by trying to murder Atticus's children.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Atticus used to be called "Ol' One Shot" and used to be the "deadest shot in Maycomb County in his time"...but his children don't even realize he knows how to fire one until he has to shoot and kill a rabid dog.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: The black Tom Robinson was almost certain to be convicted of the white Mayella Ewell's rape regardless of what he said, but he makes one serious mistake at his trial; the prosecutor asks him why he was constantly helping her around her house while turning down money (presumably trying to get Tom to say that he was attracted to her,) but Tom does something even worse by saying that he helped because he "felt right sorry for her". "You felt sorry for her? You felt sorry for her?" replies the prosecutor, causing both Tom and Atticus to immediately realise that the concept of a black man pitying a white woman will offend the jury so much that whatever extremely slim chance they might have had of acquittal has been lost, and Atticus' closing statement specifically draws attention to how having the "temerity" to pity a white woman is not reason enough to convict him.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Downplayed. Atticus was doomed to lose his case, not die. In doing so, though, he achieved the same goals of a martyr.
  • Double In-Law Marriage: Mentioned in an aside, although not actually featured. Atticus mentions the concept of double cousins to Scout, saying "two brothers married two sisters." She and Dill work on figuring it out, and reason that if Dill had a sister whom he married, and Jem and Scout got married, their kids would be double cousins. Only off by a little bit there...
  • Down in the Dumps: The Ewells literally live in the town dump, and most of their worldly possessions are reclaimed junk.
  • The Dreaded: Boo Radley. Subverted.
  • Drunk on Milk: Used by Dolphus Raymond the town drunk. He's often seen in public, tipsy and swigging from a bottle in a paper bag. The young protagonists eventually discover that it's actually a bottle of Coca-Cola, and he just pretends to be a drunkard so the bigoted townspeople won't harass his family over his marriage to a black woman.
  • Ethnic Menial Labor: Calpurnia. Her station in life was part of the book's dissection of racism in America. Calpurnia is treated as an equal member of the family and is written as a fully-fleshed-out human instead of as the flat "Mammy" stock character. She has a much bigger part in the book than in the film, which had to cut many scenes and subplots for time and many of Calpurnia's scenes were too. But her sensitive and important portrayal makes her one of the few examples of this type of role that does not create Values Dissonance today.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • Aunt Alexandra is more of a snob, but even she finds the attitudes of the Sunday club to be too much.
    • Despite being racist, the newspaper editor was ready to snipe at the lynch mob to protect Atticus.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • More bigoted, than evil, but the people of Maycomb don't believe that Dolphus Raymond would ever marry a black woman unless he was out of his mind. Raymond accommodates this mindset by pretending to be drunk.
    • A straighter example during Tom's trial; Bob Ewell is completely incapable of grasping what Atticus is driving at when he repeatedly asks him whether he sought medical attention for Mayella after her assault, and then when he denies it, why not? As far as he's concerned there was no need to see a doctor since it was obvious what had happened to her, completely missing Atticus' implied question of why he wasn't concerned for his daughter's welfare, whether she was injured or suffering?
  • Evil Counterpart: Bob Ewell is this to Atticus Finch and Boo Radley.
    • Atticus is kind, compassionate man and loving father who tries to steer Jem and Scout away from the racism of Maycomb. Ewell is disgusting racist hick who neglects his family, abuses his children, and pushes his daughter into having a black man's life destroyed.
    • Boo Radley is a recluse who hides from the world, while the world makes nasty rumors about him. Ewell himself starts attacking people after the town labels him public enemy #1 and eventually tries to kill two children, only to be stopped by Boo Radley.
  • False Rape Accusation: All evidence seem to point in that direction. Not that it matters to the jury, anyway.
  • False Teeth Tomfoolery: The children regard Miss Maudie's false teeth as an impressive distinction.
  • Family Honor: Aunt Alexandra cares a great deal about preserving this for the Finches, believing that they are not just "run of the mill people." It motivates many of her actions throughout the book, most notably trying to get Scout to act more feminine.
  • Father, I Want to Marry My Brother: Atticus tells Scout about some people who were "double first cousins," resulting when "two sisters married two brothers." This is too much for Scout to wrap her mind around, and the closest she comes is guessing that if she married her brother Jem and their friend Dill married his sister, their children would be double first cousins.
  • The Film of the Book: Adaptation Distillation to the point that Gregory Peck simply is Atticus.
  • First-Name Basis: Jem and Scout call their father by his name, rather than something like "Father" or "Dad."
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Scout watches her father's heroic attempt to save Tom Robinson's life. Scout does have her own adventures, but Atticus is the real man of action.
  • First Snow: Scout's reaction to seeing snow for the first time in Alabama is thinking it's the end of the world.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Played with; although it's pretty clear to the adults (and the reader with any awareness of life and racial relations in 1930's Alabama) how Tom Robinson's trial will end, the novel itself is being told from the perspective of innocent and naïve children who don't realize this.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The novel spends an entire chapter detailing local racist Bob Ewell's attempts at getting revenge on everyone he blames for being outed as a liar (he had beaten his daughter after catching her trying to seduce a black man and forced her to accuse the innocent man of rape. Despite evidence of his innocence, the man was convicted and fatally shot trying to escape.), stalking the man's widow, the trial judge, and explicitly threatening the man's lawyer, Atticus Finch. In the next chapter, as Atticus' children prepare to go to a Halloween party, their aunt mentions an uneasy feeling, "Something just walked over my grave". The children are viciously attacked by Ewell on their way home, and it is all but stated that they would have been killed had someone not heard their screams and come to help.
    • When Atticus, who has made it clear that he is adverse to violence, goes out into the neighborhood to "take care of" the rabid dog it foreshadows both his battle against the legal system and the climax of the book.
  • Follow the Leader: The book Wish You Well by David Baldacci seems just a little too similar to this one.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: Scout gets shocked when Atticus loosens his tie and collar, because Atticus never loosens his clothing outside of his home.
  • Funetik Aksent: The book has some differences in pronunciation and word use to show not only characters' race and social class, but also the gap between children and adults — some speech patterns were okay for kids of Scout and Jem's background but would have to be dropped as they grew up — and what was appropriate in different situations. In one scene Scout and Jem go to Calpurnia's church with her and, on the way home, ask why she talked to the other black churchgoers in their own dialect when she "knows better."
  • Gentle Giant: Boo Radley. Throughout the majority of the novel, the kids have no idea what he looks like, and fear him greatly. The simple act of touching his house is a feat for them. But in the end, he's revealed to be a nice, timid, harmless man, as he saves Jem from Bob Ewell (albeit by killing him) and makes his appearance known. (Although, in the film version, he's really not so big.)
  • The Glasses Come Off: Before shooting a rabid dog, Atticus drops his glasses on the ground.
  • Good All Along: Boo Radley.
  • Good Lawyers, Good Clients: Atticus defends Tom, but his opponent (the prosecutor) is portrayed as a good (if still somewhat bigoted) person who's just doing his job. Interestingly, the book mentions Atticus having defended obviously guilty people in the past, but because he's a good guy, he tried to make them Plea Bargain.
  • Good Parents: Atticus is a single parent example. He treats his children with nothing but love and respect, and a big part of his character is that he refuses to do anything that would lower himself in the eyes of Scout and Jem. For their part, his children adore him just as much, to the extent that they're willing to face down a lynch mob for him.
  • Gossipy Hens: Miss Stephanie Crawford.
  • The Great Depression: Followed by World War II.
  • Groin Attack: Scout accidentally kicks some guy in the nuts during the attempted lynching. (This becomes kicks to the calves in the movie.)
  • Grounded Forever: In a non-comedic example, Boo Radley as well as his real life counterpart literally had this done to him by his abusive father, and ended up with an (undeserved) reputation as an Ax-Crazy recluse.
  • Heat Wave: Atticus Finch defends an innocent black man on a brutally hot day, accused of rape on a brutally hot day.
  • Heroic Albino: While perhaps not in the medical sense, Boo Radley is extremely pale from being kept in his house for many years.
  • Hey, Catch!: Atticus throws a drinking glass at Tom to show that Tom can't use his left hand, so couldn't have attacked Mayella Ewell.
  • Hey, You!: For an unspecified reason, Scout and Jem call their father "Atticus," instead of "Dad." It may be due to Atticus holding his children to equal standards with himself, or perhaps because their mother died young, and they have never heard anyone refer to Atticus as "dad."
  • Hidden Depths: Boo Radley and Atticus. Also several minor characters — Mrs. Dubose, Aunt Alexandra, Mr. Cunningham, Braxton Underwood, Dolphus Raymond.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Subverted. It is officially claimed that Bob Ewell fell on his own knife, but actually Ewell was stabbed by Boo Radley as he was trying to kill the children.
  • Honor-Related Abuse: Bob Ewell catches his daughter trying to seduce Tom Robinson (a black man). He reacts by beating the shit out of her and forcing her to testify that Tom Robinson raped her.
  • How We Got Here: Sort of — see In Medias Res below.
  • Humans Are Flawed: One of the book's many points is to show that while some people are huge bastards, there are also plenty who are kindhearted and altruistic, such as Atticus Finch. It also shows that people are capable of change, such as Mr. Cunningham, who was implied to be the only member of the jury to originally vote "innocent" before being swayed to the guilty side after several hours, and that some humans get a reputation of being bastards when they really are some of the noblest, such as Boo Radley.
  • Ideal Hero: Atticus Finch represents the ideal of what a human should be: brutally honest, highly moral in all aspects of his life, a tireless crusader for good causes however hopeless, respected by everyone including his opponents, and a virtual pacifist.
  • I Die Free: Mrs. Dubose is determined to break her morphine addiction before she dies, despite adding withdrawal symptoms to her chronic pain.
    "Did she die free?" asked Jem.
    "As the mountain air," said Atticus. "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 you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Atticus, "The Deadest Shot in Maycomb County".
  • Innocent Bigot: Scout initially is like this due to being a young child who lives in the Deep South during the 1930s, and as a result does not seem to realize for instance that the n-word is offensive at first. As she grows older she realizes the effects of racism and prejudice and averts this trope.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Both comic examples, like Jem frequently being a Know-Nothing Know-It-All to a Scout who doesn't know better than to believe him, and dramatic ones, like his confidence right up until the last minute that the jury will acquit Tom.
  • In Medias Res: The novel starts with the sentence: "When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow." That happens at the end of the book. The effect seems to be that of an adult Scout mentioning it in a conversation, then explaining the background with the rest of the book. Which makes it How We Got Here as well.
  • Insane Equals Violent: Invoked, but averted. Boo Radley isn't violent (and may or may not be insane), but the reader's introduction to him is via a story where he stabbed his father with scissors with no provocation.
  • Insult Backfire: When Atticus is called a "nigger-lover."
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Scout splits her knuckle to the bone punching out her cousin.
  • Kangaroo Court: It's obvious that Tom Robinson's guilt was determined far in advance of the trial. His jury even includes members of the lynch mob that tried to kill him in prison. Oddly enough, this is entirely because of the jury; Judge Taylor and the prosecutor actually try to make the trial as fair as possible (Judge Taylor actively points out contradictions in the case, and the prosecutor seems to be holding back). Even with the jury bias, the deliberations take longer than expected due to a rogue juror.
  • Karma Houdini: Averted thanks to Boo Radley .
  • The Killer Was Left-Handed: Justified this time, since the accused could not use his left hand.
  • Kindly Housekeeper: Calpurnia.
  • Knife Nut: Invoked by Boo Radley, who is rumoured to have stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors for no known reason (apart from being imprisoned in his house for life after going out joyriding with local louts one night). At the climax of the tale he takes his kitchen knife and kills Bob Ewell during Ewell's attempt to murder Jem and Scout with a switchblade.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Atticus is utterly and correctly convinced that, because of Maycomb County's inherent racism, Tom Robinson cannot escape being convicted for a crime he didn't commit. Atticus still does everything in his power to get Tom acquitted, and treats it as the most important case of his entire career despite the reaction from the people of Maycomb County.
  • Law Procedural: One of the archetypal examples.
  • Let Off by the Detective: Sheriff Heck Tate hides Boo's involvement in Ewell's death to protect a shy man from unwanted publicity.
  • Little Girls Kick Shins: Subverted. Scout tries to do this. In the book she's surprised to see her victim fall back in real pain — "I had meant to kick his shin, but aimed too high."
  • Loners Are Freaks: Boo Radley is seen as this by the rest of the town. He is a kind and caring, if not shy person who just happens to have been a recluse.
  • Lower-Class Lout: The Ewells. Filthy in both hygiene and morals, they live in an extension of the town dump, put only the barest amount of effort in, and treat everybody like garbage.
  • Ludicrous Precision: When asked by the judge during Tom Robinson's trial, Mayella Ewell gives her age as "nineteen-and-a-half." The fact that a nineteen-year-old still thinks of her age in halves serves to show that she doesn't get out as much as she should.
  • Madman in the Attic: Boo Radley.
  • May–December Romance: Scout mentions at one point that her mother was many years younger than Atticus, who married well into middle-age. This adds another layer of sorrow to the Finch's backstory: Atticus must have expected his wife would outlive him, but she died suddenly and very young.
  • Menace Decay: Scout Finch is a tomboy, but by modern standards she's quite feminine.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: Tom Robinson's fate.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Miss Caroline manages to be this even though she is teaching very young kids. The problem is that most of them are the children of farmers and have done manual labor pretty much since they could walk, so they're not really interested in the story of Mrs. Cat and her kittens. She gets a nasty shock when she meets one of the Ewells, a family who traditionally show up for the first day of school to satisfy the truant officer and hardly set foot in town the rest of the year. She tries to apply basic school rules to the kid and ends up getting "slut" screamed at her.
  • Missing Mom: Scout, Jem and Mayella lost their mothers long before the story opens. Since Scout's mom died when she was two, she doesn't remember her, but Jem, who's a few years older, does.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Boo Radley is a reclusive not-quite-albino, and reputed to be Ax-Crazy. He ends up saving Scout's and Jem's lives.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Finches and Miss Maudie have all sorts of fun with the snow... then that night Miss Maudie's house burns down.
  • Moral Myopia: Scout's teacher and a church group are shown respectively lamenting the lives of the Jews in Germany (WWII is going on in the background) and Africans. They pity the circumstances of these groups while at the same time displaying casual racism towards African Americans in their own town. Aunt Alexandra at one point calls them out.
  • Mr. Exposition: Scout takes on this role. Even her brother Jem is more a part of the plot than she is.
  • The Munchausen: Dill is always making up stories about his home life, long past the point where Scout and Jem can be fooled, almost as if it's compulsive.
  • Mysterious Middle Initial: Bob Ewell is named after the famous Southern general Robert E. Lee. Whilst Lee's middle name was Edward, Ewell's full name is actually "Robert E. Lee Ewell".
  • Naïve Newcomer: Dill is a way to introduce to the reader the secrets and history of a self-contained and private community and family.
  • Nice Guy: Atticus Finch is acknowledged as one of the nicest guys in all fiction, a compassionate true gentleman and a kind-hearted father. Also Link Deas, the businessman who stands up and makes a loud public statement of Tom's impeccable character in court during Tom's trial (risking being held in contempt, or at least ejection from the courtroom) then after Tom is convicted he gives Tom's wife a job to help her support the family and stands up for her to Bob Ewell when he starts to harass her.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe, Boo Radley to the children.
  • Noble Bigot with a Badge: Subverted with Heck Tate (the bigot part). He's the authority in the town, but he also displays very few racist tendencies, especially for his time and place. One of his biggest concerns is that keeping a black man in a county jail could cause a ruckus and get him killed. He's right and it almost does. He's also not defending the jail when the lynch mob comes, but it's revealed that the mob reported a dangerous criminal in the area, and sent him on a wild goose chase.
  • Non-Indicative Title: The story has nothing to do with killing mockingbirds or hunting at all. There is, however, a Title Drop.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The whole story revolves around a good deed that is punished, namely Atticus making the unpopular decision to defend a black man who has been falsely accused. Even more so the reason that the black man is in trouble in the first place was because he did a number of good deeds for a troubled young white woman because he felt pity for her.
  • No Medication for Me: Beautifully inverted. When Mrs. Dubose, an elderly neighbor, calls Atticus a "nigger-lover," Jem destroys some of her flowers as a result, and as punishment, Atticus makes the boy read aloud to her every day for a month. After the punishment ends and Mrs. Dubose passes away, Atticus reveals that not only was Mrs. Dubose dying of a terminal illness, but she had become addicted to morphine to relieve the pain. She was so determined to die as herself that she stopped taking the medicine; the horrible withdrawal symptoms were only eased by Jem reading to and distracting her. Atticus says that to deny the morphine and die painfully, but clear of mind, is the bravest thing he has ever known.
  • Nostalgic Musicbox: The film has a music-box-like theme at the beginning. Elmer Bernstein said he wanted the music to sound very pure and innocent.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: The story is narrated by the adult Scout.
  • Nosy Neighbour: As far as Stephanie Crawford is concerned, she absolutely must know everything.
  • Notably Quick Deliberation: Averted explicitly in the book and implicitly in the film. In the book, Atticus opines that, even though the jury returned an unjust verdict, their slowness was an encouraging sign: they almost certainly spent the time talking down a Rogue Juror who wanted to acquit.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Boo Radley. He plays with the children in a roundabout way and even saves their lives at the climax.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: Directly invoked. After Boo Radley kills a drunken, murderous Bob Ewell in defense of Atticus's children, Atticus is all set to get the authorities involved and begin processing the matter by-the-book. The local sheriff, however, warns him that it's an open-and-shut case of self defense, Bob Ewell is widely known and hated, and Boo Radley's extreme social phobias would make the resulting trial absolute hell for him, however pure and innocent Atticus's intentions might be. The sheriff therefore 'officially concludes' that Bob Ewell got drunk, slipped, and fell on his own knife.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Dolphus Raymond's long-term commitment to Playing Drunk is a form of this.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Dolphus Raymond channels this, carrying around a bottle of what everyone thinks is whiskey in a brown paper bag (it's actually Coca Cola) and drinking from it. People use alcoholism to justify his "strange" behavior (being a white man married to a black woman in Alabama in the early 20th century).
  • Object Tracking Shot: The camera pans around the childrens' box of gifts from Boo Radley in the opening credits.
  • Oh, Crap!: The prosecutor manipulates Tom into saying he felt sorry for Mayella, a rather odd statement for a black man talking about a white woman in the 1930s south. In the film, Brock Peters has one of his best acting moments as he realizes this.
  • Omnidisciplinary Lawyer: Atticus, who appears to specialize in property law, is appointed to defend Tom Robinson of criminal charges. Justified in this case: in the rural South, lawyers, much like physicians, were expected to be general practitioners who could accept any kind of work.
  • One-Book Author: For whatever reason Lee never wrote another book. She had a second novel in the works, The Long Goodbye, and a nonfiction book based on the Willie Jo Maxwell killings, but nothing ever came of either of them. She contributed substantially to Truman Capote's In Cold Blood; this is her only other work to see the light of publication. This led to America's version of the Authorship Question. Proponents argue (on equally flimsy evidence) that Truman Capote wrote the book. Those that actually knew Truman Capote answer this with "If he had written it, there is no way that he would have been able to keep his mouth shut about it." This changed when a book she completed in 1950 called Go Set a Watchman was announced for publication in the summer of 2015. The novel, which pre-dates To Kill a Mockingbird, is told from an adult Scout Finch's perspective as she visits Atticus in Maycomb after having moved to New York.note 
  • One-Letter Name: X Billups. Most people didn't believe that was his full name until he was asked to spell it during a court case.
  • One of the Boys: Scout's real name is Jean Louise but she prefers the nickname "Scout", she plays with boys, hates dresses and considers "you act like a girl" an insult.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The book is full of these:
    • Scout notes the only time she ever heard Atticus speak sharply to anyone is when he's defending his parenting style to Aunt Alexandra.
    • The only time she ever heard him call something a sin is when he warns Jem never to kill a mockingbird.
    • Jem decides to follow Atticus the night the mob threatens him outside the jail because Atticus took his car instead of walking as usual.
    • Scout and Jem are shocked at Tom Robinson's trial when Atticus takes off his jacket and loosens his tie, because they've never seen him do that during the day.
    • Scout knows that Aunt Alexandra is really shaken after Scout and Jem are attacked by Bob Ewell when she gives Scout her overalls to change into.
  • Out-of-Genre Experience:
    • The genre of the novel is probably best described as "coming of age". In the middle of it is a courtroom drama. There are some other crime elements scattered throughout, but it would be misleading to describe it as a crime or law novel.
    • The film has a higher focus on the courtroom scene and won the award "Best Courtroom Drama" from the American Film Institute. And the American Bar Association.
  • Overprotective Dad: The description of Finch's Landing mentions that its original owner designed the upstairs so that the son's bedroom would be accessible by one staircase, and the daughters' bedrooms only by another... which took you directly through the parents' room.
  • Parental Incest: Heavily implied when Mayella is explaining what really happened with Tom Robinson, she says she'd never kissed a grown man before, because what Papa did to her "don't count". That line was cut from the film for obvious reasons, but Mayella's actress Colin Wilcox-Paxton said she communicated the incestuous relationship through her body language and facial expressions. She revealed in the documentary that comes with the deluxe DVD set, that she was acutely aware that Mayella's experience was real. "I saw these girls on the streets of violence, these very underprivileged girls. These girls from awful, awful backgrounds. I mean, most of them took it for granted they'd be molested by the time they were... certainly 12, by a father, an uncle, a brother — or someone down the road."
  • Parental Substitute: Calpurnia, who acts like a mother to Scout and Jem. Aunt Alexandra may also have tried to be this to the children.
  • Papa Wolf
    • Atticus and his rifle.
    • Boo Radley.
  • Pet the Dog: According to Tom, Mayella saved up a lot of money so her siblings could all go to town and get ice cream. Then again she also did it to get the house empty, so she could try to seduce Tom.
  • Pick on Someone Your Own Size:
    • Mrs. Dubose.
    • Bob Ewell attacking Scout.
  • The Pig Pen: Burris Ewell.
  • Playing a Tree: Scout is made to dress up as a leg of ham for a community pageant, but she falls asleep and fails to appear when she should. She's so ashamed, that she doesn't take off the costume while going home, and this probably saves her life when the chicken wire in it deflects a knife.
  • Playing Drunk: Dolphus Raymond pretends to be a drunk so he doesn't suffer backlash from the fact he's in love with a black girl (and fathered a mulatto).
  • The Pollyanna: Miss Maudie. After her house burns down, she focuses on how her yard is larger and that she can make it beautiful.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Bigotry was, of course, common in this setting, but Bob Ewell would likely have been considered an extreme case even then and there. (In fact, portraying such a man as a villain was the whole point of the novel, which was written during the Civil Rights Era.)
  • Pro Bono Barter: Atticus Finch accepts vegetables from Mr. Cunningham as payment for legal services.
  • Protected by a Child: When an angry lynch mob shows up to kill Tom Robinson in the middle of night, Atticus is waiting for them so he can try to argue some sense, but he fails and they threaten to go through him if he won't step aside. Fortunately, Scout snuck out and followed him that night. Her sudden appearance and apparent innocent lack of understanding of the situation (greeting the men warmly and asking about how their kids are doing since school ended for the summer) takes all the steam out of them and they are too ashamed to carry out their violent intentions. As Atticus puts it later, she reminded them they were (good) men and not a mob.
  • Pull the Thread: Atticus successfully pulls many threads in the Ewells' story of how Tom raped Mayella, particularly in the disparity of Mayella's bruise and Tom's handicap but the all-white jury ends up finding him guilty anyway.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Scout-as-narrator explains that children of lawyers often assume that whatever colleague their parent goes up against in court is a bad guy, only to be mystified by the sight of them acting like friends when court's not in session. By the time of Tom Robinson's trial, Scout and Jem have outgrown this, and they're familiar enough with the prosecutor, Mr. Gilmer, to recognize and appreciate the tricks he employs, all in the spirit of a fair trial. Neither of them is quite old enough to realize until the guilty verdict that that's not what's going on this time, and for the case of a black man accused of raping a white woman, no one's bothered hitting any punch clock.
  • Puppy Love: Scout and Dill—although it's rather ambiguous if they acutely have crushes on each other, or are just claiming they do as part of acting grown up.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: Bob Ewell wins the court case and Tom Robinson is convicted, but Atticus makes a fool of him, which drives Bob to actions that later lead to his death.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Believe it or not, Go Set a Watchman, the first full-length novel written by Harper Lee (which wasn't published until 2015), portrayed Atticus as a bigot. His retroactive change between then and this novel can be attributed to the evolving views of Lee's own father, Amasa.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Sheriff Heck Tate. The man displays very few prejudicial qualities, and is actually very nice. He testified at the trial, but his testimony was only objective crime scene evidence. When Boo kills Mr. Ewell, he finds out and easily traces the evidence and figures out what happened, telling Atticus (who thought his son did it in the confusion) that he won't prosecute it. In the end, he says that the death was just, and dragging it into court will just upset a man who wants to be left alone, and it avenges another very wrong death.
    • Atticus Finch, as he retains plenty of respect from the town even after he defends a black man, and he still remains an important figure.
    • Judge Taylor calls on Atticus to defend Tom Robinson, knowing that only Atticus would undertake the task seriously. He also tries his best for a fair trial, even if the defendant is African-American.
  • Red Right Hand: Averted: Tom has a mangled arm from a childhood accident, but while he's treated as if he has one, he is a good guy. It is actually important evidence that he didn't commit the crime he was accused of.
  • Retired Badass: Again, Atticus. His children were unaware of his badass marksmanship, until a dangerous mad dog wanders into town and someone needs to be able to safely put it down.
  • Retired Gunfighter: Atticus was an excellent shot, but hating killing things and wouldn't even touch a gun. He does have to use one to kill a rabid dog, however.
  • Revenge by Proxy: After Atticus Finch defends a black man whom Bob Ewell's daughter accused of raping her, Ewell is infuriated, and attempts to punish Atticus by attempting to murder the latter's children.
  • Rogue Juror: In the book, Atticus speculates that the deliberations took longer than expected because of an ultimately unsuccessful Rogue Juror.
  • Roman à Clef: The story is based on Harper Lee's childhood as well as the Scottsboro Trials.
  • Rousseau Was Right: At the end, when Scout is talking about a story read to her:
    ''An' they chased him 'n' never could catch him 'cause they didn't know what he looked like, an' Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things... Atticus, he was real nice..."
    His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me.
    "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."
  • Scare Dare: The Radley house is an iconic example.
  • Scary Black Man: Tom Robinson is accused of this. Of course, it's wrong.
  • Scary Minority Suspect: Tom Robinson. Although he is a very nice man who isn't scary in the least, and of course, is completely innocent. However, most of Maycomb assume he is a scary minority suspect who did rape Mayella because of the prevailing racist attitudes of the time.
  • School Is for Losers: Scout thinks school is utterly useless, and spends a while trying to convince her father to let her stay home, since he never went to a day of formal school as a kid and managed to become a lawyer anyway. In all fairness to her, her town's school system is pretty ridiculous — her first-grade teacher is annoyed that she already knows how to read and write, and tells her she needs to stop doing both until she reaches the appropriate grade level. Needless to say, she's not pleased, and tries a number of things to get out of going to school, including briefly becoming Lady Swears-a-Lot in the hope that her father won't make her go anymore once he finds out she learned it from other kids. (It doesn't work; if anything, he seems to find it slightly amusing.)
  • Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Mrs. Dubose casts aspersions on the entire neighborhood, but Atticus tells his children to leave the poor, sick, old woman alone. Then again, that probably has more to do with his general decency than anything else. Well that and the fact that he had some admiration for her since she was addicted to morphine and trying to quit before she died of the disease she had. Dying slowly and very painfully instead of easily without pain if she had just stayed on it. That takes guts.
  • Shaming the Mob: Scout's shining moment, where she got a lynch mob to disperse by speaking calmly to them, apparently oblivious to the seriousness of the situation.
  • Shear Menace: Boo Radley is said to have nonchalantly stabbed his father in the leg with scissors while clipping articles from a newspaper, followed by wiping the blood off on his pants, and continuing to clip the newspaper.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Subverted. When Mayella arrives at the trial, her poverty does not allow her to dress up nicely, but it's clear she's taken care to wash and groom herself the best she can. This is in contrast to her father, who looks like someone took a scrub brush to him. In the film version, she wears a shabby dress and bow in her hair, and the effect is quite sad. During an interview on the DVD extras, the actress states that wardrobe wanted her wear high heels. She said she would, if she could wear socks. When wardrobe told her no one wears socks with high heels, she told them "They do where I come from."
  • Shoot the Dog: A literal example with Atticus Finch and Tim Johnson
  • Simple Country Lawyer: Subverted: Atticus was a well-educated man who abhorred the opinions of his neighbors, but incompetent parodies make him into a Simple Country Lawyer. He does, arguably, qualify as a very downplayed version of the trope: his ability to communicate with people much less educated than himself makes him effective in the courtroom, and his being a native of Maycomb gives him bona fides.
  • A Sinister Clue: Bob Ewell, perhaps the only character who can legitimately be called evil, is left-handed. (He's technically ambidextrous, but he prefers his left.) This is more than a symbolic clue to his true nature, since Mayella's injuries were caused by a left-handed man.
  • Skinny Dipping: Implied. Jem won't take Scout to a pond with him and Dill, because they prefer to skinny-dip.
  • Slouch of Villainy: The lawyer for the prosecution slouches with one leg over the arm of his chair.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: So naturally, Atticus does.
  • Snowed-In: The kids get the day off from school because of a light snowfall, a rarity in Alabama.
  • The So-Called Coward: Atticus refuses to teach his children to shoot, leaving that to Uncle Jack. Turns out he's a pretty good shot himself.
  • Southern-Fried Genius / Southern Gentleman: Atticus Finch, though he certainly doesn't exhibit any real southern stereotypes, at least no negative stereotypes. He's sort of the genteel southern elite, an erudite, upper class Southern gentleman. Fortunately for his children and his client, he also displays an educated, liberal tolerance and gentility as well. He is a crack shot with a rifle, though he tries to keep that fact away from his children.
  • Southern Gothic: The story has elements of this, as well as being set in the Deep South.
  • Spit Shake: The teacher Miss Caroline asks Scout to hold out her hand (intending to hit her with a ruler as punishment), and Scout wonders to herself "what bargain [they] had made" as she thought "she was going to spit in it, which was the only reason anybody in Maycomb held out his hand: it was a time-honored method of sealing oral contracts". Is referenced again in the following chapter during a scene with her father, Atticus.
  • Spiteful Spit: Bob Ewell spits on Atticus when the lawyer decides that he will defend Tom Robinson in court.
  • Stoic Spectacles: Atticus wears a pair.
  • Strip Poker: Referenced when Atticus demands to know why Jem isn't wearing pants (after he loses them while sneaking around the Radley property), Dill lies and says he won them off him in a game of strip poker and accidentally left them there.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Scout. Most people agree that the true hero of the story is her father, Atticus.
  • Sweet Home Alabama: The story takes a nuanced view. The central plot (and title) of the book centers precisely around racism and the less-savory aspects of Southern society, but many characters in the book are perfectly sympathetic, kindly folk.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: How Scout feels regarding Mayella, who is mocked and rejected by the rest of the town and has been assaulted, possibly sexually, by Bob Ewell. Tom Robinson also states during his testimony that, even though Mayella is basically trying to destroy him, he feels sorry for her, which shocks the jury.
  • Take That!: Scout's misery with her school system should sound familiar.
  • Tears of Fear: It's implied that Atticus (of all people!) sheds some after the lynch mob departs. To be fair, he is really reacting over the danger his children were in.
  • Tell Me About My Father: At one point, Scout asks Jem about her mother as they're falling asleep.
  • There Is No Higher Court: Double Subverted. Atticus Finch was going to appeal Tom's case, but Tom was shot to death, allegedly for trying to escape.
  • They're Called Personal Issues for a Reason: The sheriff makes the case for this on Boo Radley's behalf, arguing against making a heroic deed of his known to the rest of the town on the basis that he really does just want to be left alone and would not appreciate even exposure to public praise. Everyone else concedes the wisdom of this, and the exact nature of his Dark and Troubled Past is never made clear, which suggests this is the author's opinion as well.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Scout, Jem, Dill.
  • Timeshifted Actor: In the film, the voice of Scout as an adult narrator was done by Kim Stanley, while Scout as a child was played by Mary Badham.
  • Title Drop: "Remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
  • Tomboy: Scout is one. Of course, the book is set in the 1930s when girls and women wore dresses and skirts a lot more than they do now, so being a tomboy and wearing boys' clothes was more of a meaningful statement.
  • Tomboyish Name: Scout, which is her nickname — her full name is Jean Louise Finch. Needless to say, you only find that out in scenes where her aunt is trying to put her in dresses or other "formal" settings are happening.
  • Translation Matchmaking: The Japanese release of the film became "The Alabama Story", almost definitely patterned off of The Philadelphia Story.
  • Trash of the Titans: The Ewells, who live in a garbage dump.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Atticus tries this on Bob Ewell. Since Bob is a blatant monster, it backfires.
  • Uncleanliness Is Next to Ungodliness: Burris Ewell is horribly unwashed; in fact, all the Ewells except Mayella are. Their home also contains the Trash of the Titans.
  • Unwillingly Girly Tomboy: Scout is more or less a tomboy, but has to wear a dress for her first day of school thanks to her Aunt Alexandra, and seems mildly embarrassed about it.
  • Urine Trouble: One of the characters urinated off his front porch. This is not shown in the film adaptation (thankfully).
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Subverted with the Ewells. Everyone is aware of how crooked Bob and his family are, and Bob only gets his way in court because Tom Robinson is black. When the trial is over, any bit of faith in Bob Ewell is gone, driving him to petty (and not so petty) acts of vengeance.
  • Wacky Americans Have Wacky Names: Several examples, with the prize going to X Billups, who has no given name other than X.
  • Walk Like an Egyptian: Jem attempts this after learning about Ancient Egypt in school. In the film, Scout tries it as well.
  • Weather Report Narration: A few paragraphs in you have, "Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer's day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square."
  • Wham Line:
    • "Hey, Boo."
    • "Tom's dead."
  • Where Da White Women At?: Subverted with Tom and Mayella. Tom's not interested in her at all (and has been married, with children, for years) and while Mayella comes onto him it's mainly because she's lonely and will take anyone. But this is the stereotype the prosecution is trying to exploit.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Bob Ewell at the end. He doesn't dare go after Atticus, because he's the best shot in the county and would wipe the floor with him. So he decides to target Jem and Scout instead.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Subverted. Mayella claims she was raped when, in fact, it was the opposite, in order to get rid of her guilt about kissing a black man.


Alternative Title(s): To Kill A Mockingbird

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/ToKillAMockingbird?from=Film.ToKillAMockingbird