New York Times
The ending of the novel is considered to a large extent a firm end. The author is being subjective; she imposes the audience to come to the same denouement. The last lines of the novel sum up the ideas of innocence and the good and evil in individuals. Scout at the end recounts the events of a story to her a father of a wrongly accused character, she has reached the mental maturity and internal peace when she thinks that the character is real nice when others saw through him without prejudgments. The ending also draws a sublime image of the themes of family and growing-up; it shows that never agony and conflict will prevail for family, even incomplete, will be the sacred haven where all insecurities are leashed, and that adult’s life is a loop of struggles and peace. These could be the moral lessons the author wants to deliver. Scout finalizes:
When they finally saw him. . . 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.”He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning. (Lee 376)
The book is comprised of two parts. The first part primarily tackles the pursuit of the kids trying to decipher their superstition about Boo Radley and the Radley place. On the other hand, the second part chiefly tackles the trial of Tom Robinson and its consequences. The first part contains 11 chapters while the second part contains 20 chapters. From a historical perspective, this novel is a focus on the part of history when racism and segregation was still rampant in the southern American society; accordingly, the larger part of the book focuses on a trial of an African-American man and the societal reception revolving around it.
The most prominent technique of the book is mainly flashback. Lee directs the first-person narrative in the progression of the flashback. The author employs the first-person narrative to engage the audience in the psychological journey of the protagonist. This point of view shows the reader how the characters develop and mature throughout the story as if it is a real-world process. The narrative style also makes the audience bias with the protagonist because the whole sentiments are conveyed through words. Adult Scout narrates great events of her childhood and to a certain degree putting her own remarks on them. Her description of others forces the reader to like or dislike them as she feels toward them. The reader, for instance, feels mad at Aunt Alexandra just because Scout, the narrator, is upset by her aunt’s criticism and attempts to make her a lady.
The author starts off as “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken” (Lee 3). The narrator takes the reader to a journey in time. This creates a shade of mystery and suspicion; readers are enthusiastic to know the reason of the boy’s injury and incidents that took place. The events pace in chronological order until the reader knows what caused Jem getting his arm severely smashed. It narrates the events that occur between 1933 and 1935.
As mentioned above, the author makes intense use of symbolism in the image of mockingbirds in that it could represent the characters of Tom Robinson and Boo Radley. Some argue that “…the mockingbirds symbolize the southern way of life, a culture that emphasized good manners, family background, and a relaxed pace of living. Unfrequently, another aspect of this way of living was racial segregation” (Milton 22). Another important symbol is that of the mad dog. The mad dog or Tim Johnson may denote to the rabid state of the vicious side of Maycomb. The dog’s rabis is similar to the spreading of racism; furthermore, as Atticus shoots the mad dog to end his threat to others, Atticus has struggled to end the racism through his attempts in defending Tom Robinson.
The author also employs imagery of flowers: the azaleas and the camellias to symbolize the characters of Ms. Maudie and Mrs. Dubose. There is also the abundant usage of allusion in this novel. There are references to literature, philosophy, history, the bible, and popular culture. One of the significant allusions is mentioned in the last lines of the story when Scout is resisting sleep reciting to Atticus about her favorite story The Gray Ghost written by Robert Schulkers (1890–1972). The stated book shows a story of a wrongly accused of a crime man who is finally proved innocent. The gray ghost in the book itself may symbolize Boo Radley as Scout depicts him at first in a mysterious ghost-like way.
To Kill A Mockingbird has received plentiful reviews. TIME magazine held its first review of the novel in the same year the novel was published: 1960. The writer of this review may have never imagined the level of fame and success this novel would reach as he writes:
Author Lee, 34, an Alabaman, has written her first novel with all of the tactile brilliance and none of the preciosity generally supposed to be standard swamp-warfare issue for Southern writers. The novel is an account of an awakening to good and evil, and a faint catechistic flavor may have been inevitable. But it is faint indeed; Novelist Lee’s prose has an edge that cuts through cant, and she teaches the reader an astonishing number of useful truths about little girls and about Southern life. (Kedmey 23-24)
Another critic Frank. H. Lyell from NY Times Book Reviews wrote:
The dialogue of Miss Lee’s refreshingly varied characters is a constant delight in its authenticity and swift revelation of personality. The events connecting the Finches with the Ewell-Robinson lawsuit develop quietly and logically, unifying the plot and dramatizing the author’s level-headed plea for interracial understanding. (Williams)
The American author, editor, and journalist Herbert Mitgang wrote a noteworthy review in New York Times; he penned:
All the magic and truth that might seem deceptive or exaggerated in a factual account of a small town unfold beautifully in a new first novel called To Kill a Mockingbird. At a time when so many machine-tooled novels are simply documentaries disguised behind a few fictional changes, it is pleasing to recommend a book that shows what a novelist can accomplish with quite familiar situations. (Williams 12-15)
Finally, all critics have agreed that the novel is a masterpiece of the age. They believe that the author fruitfully succeeded in accomplishing her mission in delivering her message and paving the way for the anti-racism movements in influencing the public opinion throughout employing all tactics of fiction writing.