To Kill a Mockingbird


Harper Lee

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Themes and Colors
Good, Evil, and Human Dignity Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Small Town Southern Life Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in To Kill a Mockingbird, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Good, Evil, and Human Dignity

To Kill a Mockingbird follows Scout, a precocious six-year-old, over the course of three years as she begins to grow, and in the process, bears witness to the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of raping a white woman. As a child, Scout has set ideas regarding what’s good and what’s evil, but throughout the novel, her father, Atticus, gradually begins to encourage her to see that the world…

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Throughout To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout witnesses many different types of prejudice—and even promotes these attitudes herself—including classism, sexism, and racism. Regardless of the type of prejudicial worldview, each one treats people as stereotyped groups, demands conformity, and doesn’t give any credit to individuals. Over and over again, To Kill a Mockingbird illustrates how prejudice can be closed-minded and dangerous, as well as seemingly benign—but in all cases, it’s ridiculous and misguided.

Though racism…

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Growing Up

Over the course of the novel’s three years, Scout, Dill, and Jem grow up both physically and mentally. They begin the novel with a firm and uncomplicated idea of what’s good and what’s bad, but by the end of the novel, they’ve all lost their innocence and have come to a more complex understanding of how people and the world work. In particular, having Scout, whom the reader meets at age six, narrate…

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Many people in To Kill a Mockingbird confuse courage with strength and believe that courage is the ability or willingness to use strength to get one’s way. However, the novel makes it abundantly clear that this understanding of courage is immature at best and is possibly wrong altogether. Instead, the novel proposes that courage isn’t about winning. Instead, it’s about thinking about something and choosing to do what’s right, even if doing so is difficult…

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Small Town Southern Life

Maycomb is a small town with all the stereotypical characteristics of small-town life. Most notably everyone knows everyone else’s business, which leads mostly to endless and generally harmless gossip—but more importantly, it makes the community extremely intimate and close-knit. Throughout the first part of the novel, these qualities cause Scout and Jem to believe that Maycomb is nothing more than an insular, safe, intimate community. While they’re not entirely wrong about the truth of this…

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