To Kill a Mockingbird

Main Characters

Harper Lee constructs a sweet and affectionate portrait of growing up in the vanished world of small town Alabama.  Lee, however, proceeds to undermine her portrayal of small town gentility.  Lee dismantles the sweet façade to reveal a rotten, rural underside filled with social lies, prejudice, and ignorance.  But no one in Mockingbird is completely good or evil.  Every character is human, with human flaws and weaknesses.  Lee even renders Atticus, the paragon of morality, symbolically weak by making him an old and widowed man as opposed to young and virile.  It is how these flawed characters influence and are influenced by the major themes underpinning their society.Three major themes run through To Kill a Mockingbird: education, bravery, and prejudice.

Jean Louise "Scout" Finch

Scout is the narrator of the story and she is telling the story from the past point of view. She started talking about the summer when she first met Dill and they went on adventures with her older brother Jem. Scout is a tomboy and is not like the average little girl in Maycomb County. Being a tomboy makes her different, and she does not care what anyone thinks. She has no fear of fighting the boys and she has social problems at some points in the story. She does not know when to keep her mouth shut and when to stop asking questions, but that makes her character significant. She is also very smart for her age. She learned to read before she started school, and when her teacher found out she told her to forget everything she learned. 

Atticus Finch

Atticus is a lawyer in Maycomb and is respected by all of the citizens. He finds good in everyone and he teaches his children the difference between justice and cruelty. He is committed to equality to every one of all races, so he agrees to defend Tom Robinson (a black man) who was accused of raping a white woman. After the town finds out what he has agreed to do, he is the scorn of the community and his family gets treated differently. The kids at school abuse Scout and she does not know why, because she is still young and does not really understand what is all happening. 

Jeremy Atticus "Jem" Finch

Jem is an eight year old boy who is just like any other in the county. He dreams of growing up and playing football, and never turns down any dare. He is in the stage of growing up but he is always there watching out for his little sister.

Bob Ewell

Bob Ewell is one of the lower citizens of Maycomb County, and when he catches his daughter with a black man (Tom Robinson), he physically abuses her. He does not want to be the fool of the county so he claims that Tom raped his daughter. He is one of the evil characters that is represented in this story.

Charles Baker "Dill" Harris

Dill, Miss Rachel Haverford's nephew, is dreamy, enigmatic and insecure. Unlike the Finch children he feels unwanted until they welcome him under their wing. Dill talks of his stepfather and mother as well off people who show him the sights of the urbanised area that they live in. In reality this is not what the picture is with Dill and his parents. They don't want him and he is passed from relative to relative in an attempt to be rid of him for some time. He is moved on from his one relative to the next when they get tired making Dill feels unwanted although he doesn't show it. As a result of this when Dill comes to Maycomb and meets Jem and Scout, he feels comforted and contented to be with people who have time for him and who enjoy his company. 

Arthur "Boo" Radley

Early in the story Boo was just the subject of talk and myths but we learn more about him soon after. 
Boo is the nickname of Arthur Radley. Early in the book Boo is described as a tall and scary looking person who runs around at night eating live possums and cats. He was sometimes known as a phantom because no one knew who he was and why he goes out at night eating cat's and other living animals. When Boo got into trouble with the law because he resisted arrest, he was locked up the ancient beadle, aka the court outhouse. Boo and the Cunninghams were the nearest thing to a gang. They were once even arrested for disturbing the peace, assault and battery. The other boys were sent to the state industrial school, which wasn't known to be a prison and had no disgrace but Boo's father Mr. Randle liked to think it did. When a judge accepted Mr. Radley's deal Boo was released and and promised never to cause any further trouble. Boo was not seen outside his home until fifteen years later when his mom ran out of the house screaming that Boo was killing them all because he had stabbed his dad in the leg. After he pulled out the weapon and wiped it on his dad's pants he went back to cutting up the newspapers for his scrapbook. The next sign of Boo is when he put gifts in the knothole for Jem and Scout. Jem and Scout were unaware that Boo was putting the little items for them in the knothole. Rather strange items included in the knothole for example were a pocket watch, medal, chewing gum and the weirdest being 2 human-like carvings made from soap. Jem and Scout realised that the figures were figures of them. They thought that Boo was watching them. After the finding of the soap figures, Mr Nathan Radley filled the knothole with cement so that Boo couldn't leave any more items for them. In the middle of the book he only appears once when Miss Maudie's house was on fire and Jem and scout were standing in the cold weather watching people trying to save household objects. Scout was really cold and started to freeze but without her noticing Boo came up to her and wrapped a blanket around her. Later that night Atticus asked where she got it from and she didn't know. But they came to a decision that it was Boo because they were standing at the front of the Radley fence. At the end of the book he comes out once more to save Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell. Bob attacks Jem under the big oak. Boo stops Bob by killing him with a kitchen knife from Boo's house. Boo carried Jem home while Scout is left wondering until Atticus calls her. When the doctor arrives Atticus and Scout realize that Boo is standing in the corner watching Jem. The sheriff comes later to talk to Atticus about the night. Sheriff told Atticus that Bob died under his own knife, which was a lie to cover for Boo, who couldn't cope with the limelight if the whole town knew. The Sheriff's explanation of the death of Bob Ewell was "Let the dead bury the dead."

Miss. Maudie Atkinson

Miss Maudie Atkinson is the Finches’ neighbor, a sharp-tongued widow, and an old friend of the family. Miss Maudie is almost the same age as Atticus’s younger brother, Jack. She shares Atticus’s passion for justice and is the children’s best friend among Maycomb’s adults.


The Finches’ black cook. Calpurnia is a stern disciplinarian and the children’s bridge between the white world and her own black community.

Mayella Ewell

Mayella Violet Ewell is Tom Robinson's 19-and-a-half-year-old accuser and the daughter of Bob Ewell. She is the oldest daughter of Bob Ewell and has to take care of her siblings (such as Burris Ewell) since her father is an alcoholic. She was continually physically abused by her father; Atticus politely and indirectly proves this by mentioning the bruises concentrated on the right side of her face during Tom Robinson's trial. When Atticus Finch asks her if she has any friends, she becomes confused because she does not know what a friend is. During her time in court, she is confused by Atticus' polite speech and thinks that his use of "Miss Mayella" is meant to mock her. She wants a better life for herself and lovingly grows redgeraniums, but a change in her situation is unlikely. To get the human contact that she so craves, she attempts to seduce a black man, named Tom Robinson. Through the window, her father sees this action, and calls her a whore, causing Tom Robinson to flee the scene, worried that he may be put on trial. Bob Ewell then finds the sheriff, Heck Tate, and tells him that his daughter has been raped, even though there is no evidence. By testifying against Tom Robinson, she was also trying to destroy the evidence suggesting that she had attempted to seduce him, most likely due to the extremes of racism in Maycomb.

Tom Robinson

 The black field hand accused of rape. Tom is one of the novel’s “mockingbirds,” an important symbol of innocence destroyed by evil.

Nathan Radley

Boo Radley’s older brother. Scout thinks that Nathan is similar to the deceased Mr. Radley, Boo and Nathan’s father. Nathan cruelly cuts off an important element of Boo’s relationship with Jem and Scout when he plugs up the knothole in which Boo leaves presents for the children.

Heck Tate

The sheriff of Maycomb and a major witness at Tom Robinson’s trial. Heck is a decent man who tries to protect the innocent from danger.

Mr. Walter Cunningham

A poor farmer and part of the mob that seeks to lynch Tom Robinson at the jail. Mr. Cunningham displays his human goodness when Scout’s politeness compels him to disperse the men at the jail.