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To Kill a Mockingbird

This study guide will help you analyze the novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee. You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for interpreting it and putting it into perspective

The quotes in this study guide are taken from the 2010 edition published by Arrow Books.

Harper Lee (1926-2016) was an American novelist best known for her book To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and is widely taught in schools in the United States. Lee’s only other published book is Go Set a Watchman (2015).

Extract

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Similes

The novel uses many similes to describe things in interesting or sometimes even amusing ways. For example, the simile “Miss Rachel went off like the town fire siren: ‘Do-o-o Jee-sus, Dill Harris!’ ” (p.61) shows that Rachel’s exclamation was shrill and sudden and most likely startled the nearby people. 

Another humorous simile is the compliment Atticus pays Mrs. Dubose: “ ‘You look like a picture this evening!’ ” (p. 111). While the phrase is meant to imply that Mrs. Dubose looks beautiful, Scout makes the compliment sound amusing by remarking: “I never heard Atticus say like a picture of what” (p.111). This comment shows that Scout does not understand the simile is meant to imply beauty, as in her eyes, Mrs. Dubose is not beautiful. 

A simile that is used to provide an interesting description is used when Atticus finds out Jem destroyed Mrs. Dubose’s flowers: “ ‘Jem!’ His voice was like the winter wind” (p. 115). In this example, the simile shows Atticus’ tone was cold, serious, and hard, which reveals that he was angry.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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