Six-year-old Jean Louise “Scout” Finch narrates Mockingbird. A tomboy at heart, Scout works hard not to “act like a girl” by wearing overalls instead of dresses and beating up other children who antagonize her. Scout spends her days playing outside with her older brother, Jem, and her best friend, Dill. Extremely smart and bright for her age, Scout loves to read spends time reading with her father, Atticus, every night. Spunky and head strong, Scout often finds herself in trouble with her father, her housekeeper, Calpurnia, her neighbors, her aunt Alexandra, and her teachers. Despite the rules of etiquette governing life in her small town, Scout voices her opinions and recognizes hypocrisy and injustice in her elders.
Father of Jem and Scout, Atticus Finch sits on the Alabama State Legislature and acts as Maycombs leading attorney. The epitome of moral character, Atticus teaches his children and his community how to stand up for ones beliefs in the face of prejudice and ignorance by defending a black man, Tom Robinson, wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. Having lost his wife when Scout was two years old, Atticus devotes himself to his children despite criticism from family and neighbors who think his children lack discipline and proper guidance. Atticus stands as one of literatures strongest and most positive father figures.
Ten years old when the book begins , Jeremy “Jem” Finch acts as Scouts playmate and protector. Entering adolescence during the course of Mockingbird, Jem matures as he struggles with issues of racism and intolerance. On the brink of manhood, Jem goes through phases as he comes to grips with his familys past and his future role in society. Sometimes moody and sullen, sometimes kind and gentle, Jem emerges as a leader as he helps Scout understand how to get along in school and reminds her to respect Atticus and their other elders.
Harper Lee based her character, Charles Baker “Dill” Harris, on her girlhood friend and famous writer, Truman Capote. Spending his summers with his relative, Miss Rachel, in Maycomb, Dill, who is Scouts age, comes from a broken family. Dill spins grand tales about his father but runs away from home late in the book because he feels his mother and step-father dont care about him. During his summers however, he, Jem, and Scout entertain themselves by pretending they are characters in plays and attempting to coax Boo Radley out of his house.
Arthur “Boo” Radley is Maycombs town recluse. Myths and rumors about Boo and his family abound. According to town gossip, Boo stabbed his father in the leg when he was a boy and has since been confined to his house. The children imagine Boo as a ghoulish figure who eats cats and stalks about the neighborhood under the cover of night. In fact, Boo stands as a figure of innocence who befriends and protects the children in his own way.
The Finchs black housekeeper, Calpurnia acts as a mother figure and disciplinarian in the Finch household. Atticus trusts Calpurnia, relies on her for support raising his children, and considers her part of the family. Calpurnia also gives the children insight into her world when she takes them to her church.
The most important client of Atticus career, Tom Robinson, a young, black man, is a church going, father of four accused of rape by Mayella Ewell.
The father of eight, Bob Ewell, a white man, and his family live behind Maycombs dump. Desperately poor, Ewell uses his welfare money to buy alcohol while his children go hungry. His nineteen year old daughter, Mayella, accuses Tom Robinson of rape and battery.
Atticus sister, Aunt Alexandra is a proper Southern woman who maintains a strict code about with whom she and her family should associate. She criticizes Atticus for letting Scout run wild and when she moves into their home during Tom Robinsons trial, Alexandra urges Scout to wear dresses and become a proper lady.
Miss Maudie is the counterpoint to Aunt Alexandra. A neighbor to the Finch family, Maudie offers Scout a female role model opposite from Alexandra. Maudie respects the children and admires Atticus. Unlike the other women in the town, Maudie minds her own business and behaves without pretension or hypocrisy.
Walter Cunningham plays a small but important role in Mockingbird. A farming family, the Cunninghams occupy a middle position in Maycombs class hierarchy above African American citizens and the Ewells but below Atticus and the Finch family. Honest and hard working, Walter Cunningham and his son are respectable community members who represent the potential in everyone to understand right from wrong despite ignorance and prejudice.