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American Literature Since 1945

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Focus on To Kill a Mockingbird

MockingbirdThe only novel (1960) by the US writer Harper Lee (b. 1926), which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman and its aftermath are seen through the eyes of Scout, the six-year-old daughter of the white defense lawyer, Atticus Finch. Although clearly innocent, the man is found guilty and is subsequently shot 17 times by prison guards while, it is claimed, he was trying to escape.

The editor of the local paper writes a courageous leader comparing the death to ‘ the senseless slaughter of songbirds by hunters and children’. The common, or northern, mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) is a noted songbird and mimic, and its range extends from the northern USA to Mexico. It particularly favors suburban habitats, and sometimes sings at night. A film version (1962) was directed by Robert Mulligan, with an Oscar-winning performance by Gregory Peck as Finch.

From CREDO To Kill a Mockingbird: Brewer's Curious Titles.

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