atticus tomrobinson minorcharacters scout jem dill booradley maudie bobewell calpurnia

Themes and Issues

When writing To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee was concerned about the real human issues that affect all of us. She wanted to tell us about what life was really like for African-Americans in the Deep South. She wanted to tell us what life was like for the poor, children and women in the Deep South. She wanted us to have a clearer picture of how people do not always treat others as well as they should.

To Kill a Mockingbird therefore, is very much a novel of social comment with a broad range of themes. It is a story about growing up and Lee shows how two children come to have a deeper understanding of the world and the people around them when their innocence is confronted by prejudice and ignorance.

This section provides you with the opportunity to think about the key issues and themes of the novel and work out what Harper Lee is saying to you about each issue.

Below are examples of some of the many issues present in To Kill a Mockingbird. Think about each one and see if you can identify the themes they relate to in the novel. Create a table with three columns. In the first column list these issues. In the second column record the themes relating to each of these issues and in the third column cite examples from the text to support your ideas about each theme. For example:

Examples from the text
justice persecuting someone because they have black skin is unjust Tom Robinson is falsely accused of rape




racism bigotry inhumanity innocence education compassion bringingupchildren courage violence justice loneliness stereotyping socialclass goodandevil gender heroism