Key Characters

Quick revise

Family Tree

Scout Finch

  • At the beginning of the novel Scout is an innocent five year old, who has never experienced the evils of the world.
  • As the novel progresses Scout comes face to face with the world’s evil in the form of racism and deceit.
  • As this progression happens the reader wanders whether or not Scout will come away form her experiences with the same optimistic attitude she began with or will she be bruised and hurt like Tom Robinson and Boo Radley.
  • Scout is an unusual young lady. She learns to read before she even starts school, she fights boys without fear and exposes an ever confident attitude.
  • She is a bit of a tom boy in a very prim and proper town where ladies are expected to behave like ladies.
  • Scout is definitely 'her father’s daughter', he has nurtured her mind conscience and identity. Whilst girls Scout’s age are wearing dresses and playing with dolls Scout wears overalls, climbs tress with Jem and fights.
  • Thanks to Atticus’s wise attitude Scout learns that the human race not only has the capacity for great evil but also the capacity for great good, and that she must face every situation with sympathy and understanding.
  • Scout is not always tactful and does not grasp social niceties when she tells her teacher that one student is too poor to pay for lunch.
  • Scout fails to understand human ignorance at times and finds it hard to believe that her teacher openly criticises Hitler’s treatment of the Jews whilst being racist herself towards the black community.
  • Scout’s development into a person capable of understanding shows that whatever evil she encounters, she will retain her conscience without becoming cynical or jaded.
  • By the end of the novel Scout has moved from a child to a near grown up with an understanding attitude.
Atticus Finch
  • Atticus is a well off man in the town of Maycomb especially since the novel is set during the Great Depression, a time of widespread poverty.
  • Atticus is a man of intelligence, wisdom, calm and a model citizen in the town. As a result Atticus is respected by everyone. He functions in this novel as a moral backbone holding the Maycomb society together.
  • Atticus is called upon by the community in times of need however it is this same willingness to help that results in Atticus falling out with many Maycomb citizens when he agrees to defend Tom Robinson.
  • Atticus’s actions make him the object of abuse and scorn in Maycomb. However he is clearly valued and after the trial his status in the town is restored.
  • Atticus practises the same sympathy and understanding that he preaches to Jem and Scout, and he never holds anything against the people of Maycomb, despite their racist attitudes.
  • Atticus knows that people are different good and bad, he shows admiration of the good and understanding to the bad. He passes this on to Scout and it is this outlook which protects the innocent such as Scout from being destroyed by contact with evil.
  • Atticus is a well respected man however neither Jem nor Scout idolise him at the beginning of the novel. Both children are embarassed that he is older than the other fathers and that he does not hunt or fish.
  • Atticus shows his wise parenting in chapter 30 when he says “Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, and I’ve tried to live so I can look squarely back at him,” This attitude ultimately wins their respect.
  • Atticus is consistent throughout the novel despite his children’s evolving attitudes. He stands for justice and willing views the perspectives of others. He does not evolve during the novel but retains his qualities and sustains the role as moral guide and voice of conscience throughout the novel.
Jem Finch
  • Jem is older than Scout and finds his life shattered during his experience with the Tom Robinson trial. This experience comes as Jem is entering puberty and leaves him feeling confused and disillusioned.
  • Jem becomes despondent and depressed when he discovers that justice does not prevail.
  • He feels vulnerable and confused. He tries to uphold the commitment to justice that Atticus taught he and this remains throughout the novel.
  • Jem is not without hope unlike My Raymond. Atticus reassures Jem and assures him that he has to learn from what has happened.
  • Atticus’s prominence in Jem’s life seems to hold a promise of recovery for Jem. Towards the end of the novel Jem begins to show that he has learnt a positive lesson from the trial. We see this in chapter 25 when he refuses to let Scout squash a roly poly bug as it has done no harm. Jem now wants to protect the fragile and harmless after witnessing the unfair treatment of Tom Robinson.
  • Jem resolution of his cynicism and his movement towards a happy life is supported at the beginning of the novel when Scout recalls that Jem’s initial interest in Boo Radley strongly represented his ability to shed innocence without loosing hope.
Boo Radley
  • Boo Radley is a recluse who never sets foot outside the house.
  • He dominates the imagination of Scout, Jem and Dill and appears to be an evil and beast of a man.
  • He is a powerful symbol of goodness who is surrounded by evil. He shows his goodness when he leaves presents for Jem and Scout and then saves them from the evil Bob Ewell.
  • Boo was damaged by his cruel father and poses as a threat that evil can possess innocence and goodness.
  • He is one of the novel’s ‘Mockingbirds’, a good person injured by the evil of mankind.
Dill
  • Dill is Scout and Jem’s friend and neighbour, he is a confident boy with an active imagination.
  • He becomes obsessed with Boo.
  • He represents innocence and childhood in the novel.
Bob Ewell and Mayella Ewell
  • Bob Ewell and Mayella Ewell are Father and daughter of Maycomb’s poorest family.
  • Bob knowingly knows that Tom is innocent and still accuses him of rape.
  • Bob represents the dark side of the south; ignorance, poverty and racial prejudice.
  • Mayella is abused, lonely, unhappy daughter.
  • Although we can pity Mayella because of her father, we cannot pardon her for her shameful indictment of Tom Robinson.
Tom Robinson
  • Tom Robinson is a black man who works in the fields.
  • He is accused of raping Mayella Ewell.
  • Tom is another one of the novel’s ‘mockingbirds’ a very important symbol of an innocent man who is destroyed by an evil racist.
Miss Maudie Atkinson
  • Miss Maudie Atkinson  is a neighbour of Atticus.
  • She is a sharp tongued widow and a friend of the family.
  • She has a passion for justice along with Atticus and is a friend to Scout and Jem