To Kill a Mockingbird Book Summary - To Kill a Mockingbird Book explained in key points
Listen to the Intro
00:00

To Kill a Mockingbird summary

Harper Lee

A Pulitzer Prize-Winning Classic on Racial Prejudice & Injustice

4.8 (227 ratings)
26 mins

Brief summary

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee is a powerful novel set in the 1930s American South. It follows the story of Scout Finch, a young girl who learns about racial injustice and societal prejudices through her father's legal defense of a black man in a wrongful rape trial.

Table of Contents

    To Kill a Mockingbird
    Summary of 8 key ideas

    Audio & text in the Blinkist app
    Key idea 1 of 8

    Part 1: Maycomb, Alabama

    Maycomb was, as locals said, a one-taxi kind of town. 

    It was small – there really was only one taxi to bring folks to and from the railway station. It hadn’t exactly gone to seed, but there were signs of neglect – grass-covered sidewalks and dusty roads that turned to red slop when it rained. Not that it rained much. Trees budded in spring and shed their leaves in the fall, but the heat was constant. It wilted men’s starched collars and sent pearls of sweat running down ladies’ talcumed foreheads. Its endlessness made it feel as though time moved more slowly in Maycomb than it did in other places. 

    The town had a grander side, too. It was an administrative center and the seat of the county government. Its core was made up of wide streets lined with oaks and solid buildings with stylistic pretensions. The courthouse was perhaps the most solid and pretentious of all – it rested on giant stone pillars more suited to a Greek temple than a county court. 

    Maycomb had a larger number of professional people than were usually found in towns of its size. It was the kind of place folks had teeth pulled, hearts listened to, and contracts countersigned. Maycomb county was rural – it was a sea of cotton fields and timberland. But the town was an island of urbanity. 

    Among these professional men was a lawyer named Atticus Finch. A tall, bespectacled man of around 45, Atticus had pleasant, square-cut features and a full head of graying black hair. He was Maycomb through and through. His ancestor, Simon Finch, had founded the place and there weren’t many families in town to whom Atticus wasn’t related by blood or marriage. 

    He was a highly regarded lawyer – the best in the county at the very least. But he didn’t like the practice of criminal law – it was, he thought, a distasteful business. Important, but dirty work. He’d felt that way since his first case. Atticus had represented two brothers who’d killed the town blacksmith in a squabble over a horse. He instructed them to plead guilty to second-degree murder – a plea that would have saved their lives. But they said the blacksmith was a son-of-a-bitch who’d gotten what was coming to him and pled innocent. Atticus could do no more for them except attend their execution, which he did, dutifully and distastefully. 

    Want to see all full key ideas from To Kill a Mockingbird?

    Key ideas in To Kill a Mockingbird

    More knowledge in less time
    Read or listen
    Read or listen
    Get the key ideas from nonfiction bestsellers in minutes, not hours.
    Find your next read
    Find your next read
    Get book lists curated by experts and personalized recommendations.
    Shortcasts
    Shortcasts New
    We’ve teamed up with podcast creators to bring you key insights from podcasts.

    What is To Kill a Mockingbird about?

    To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is one of the most influential American novels ever written. Set in a small town in Alabama in the 1930s, it follows the Finch family over three tumultuous years as a trial divides a community. Covering themes of love and hate, innocence and experience, and kindness and cruelty, Harper Lee’s book goes to the heart of human behavior.   

    To Kill a Mockingbird Review

    To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is a classic novel that explores themes of racism, justice, and morality in a small Southern town. Here are three reasons why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Its compelling characters, like the determined Scout and the righteous Atticus Finch, draw readers into their world and make their struggles very relatable.
    • The thought-provoking social commentary on prejudice and inequality challenges readers to examine their own beliefs and values.
    • The gripping courtroom drama keeps readers on the edge of their seat, ensuring that the story is never boring and always engaging.

    Who should read To Kill a Mockingbird?

    • Anyone interested in classic fiction
    • History buffs
    • Those invested in the struggle for justice

    About the Author

    Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She studied law at the University of Alabama before moving to New York and dedicating herself to writing. To Kill a Mockingbird was her first and only novel. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and many other literary honors. Harper Lee died on 19 February, 2016.

    Categories with To Kill a Mockingbird

    Book summaries like To Kill a Mockingbird

    People ❤️ Blinkist 
    Sven O.

    It's highly addictive to get core insights on personally relevant topics without repetition or triviality. Added to that the apps ability to suggest kindred interests opens up a foundation of knowledge.

    Thi Viet Quynh N.

    Great app. Good selection of book summaries you can read or listen to while commuting. Instead of scrolling through your social media news feed, this is a much better way to spend your spare time in my opinion.

    Jonathan A.

    Life changing. The concept of being able to grasp a book's main point in such a short time truly opens multiple opportunities to grow every area of your life at a faster rate.

    Renee D.

    Great app. Addicting. Perfect for wait times, morning coffee, evening before bed. Extremely well written, thorough, easy to use.

    People also liked these summaries

    4.7 Stars
    Average ratings on iOS and Google Play
    30 Million
    Downloads on all platforms
    10+ years
    Experience igniting personal growth
    Powerful ideas from top nonfiction

    Try Blinkist to get the key ideas from 7,000+ bestselling nonfiction titles and podcasts. Listen or read in just 15 minutes.

    Start your free trial

    To Kill a Mockingbird FAQs 

    What is the main message of To Kill a Mockingbird?

    The main message of To Kill a Mockingbird is to fight for justice and equality, even in the face of adversity.

    How long does it take to read To Kill a Mockingbird?

    The reading time for To Kill a Mockingbird can vary, but on average it takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in about 15 minutes.

    Is To Kill a Mockingbird a good book? Is it worth reading?

    To Kill a Mockingbird is definitely worth reading. It tackles important themes like racism and social injustice, and offers a compelling story that resonates with readers.

    Who is the author of To Kill a Mockingbird?

    The author of To Kill a Mockingbird is Harper Lee.