Scout (Jean-Louise Finch)

The protagonist in the story, Scout is a overall wearing tom-boy, who prefers playing with her older brother Jem than being a girl. Scout quickly becomes an amusing and likeable character. The actual structure of the novel is circular so at the beginning of the novel we are introduced to adult Scout, who then moves on to tell the story from a first person prospective from when she was a child. This is effective for a number of different reasons. It allows us as the audience see the process of learning that Scout undergoes and so we are encouraged to learn also. It also adds humour to the novel, it is almost like she is mocking herself and her innocence, for example her attitude to Boo: “Boo was about six-and-a-half feet tall judging from his tracks”, this is obviously ridiculous, however the idea that the children believe this is quite amusing. Scout is also unusually intelligent for her age, she is actually punished at school for being able to read and write. She soon begins to hate school and instead chooses to learn from Atticus.

At the beginning of the the novel she is particularly naïve, for example her lack of understanding at the lynch mob, however the lessons Atticus teaches her and Jem help them to develop, for example he demonstrates “what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand”. She obviously does learn a great deal explaining at the end of the novel that there “wasn't much else to learn, except possibly algebra”.


Jem (Jeremy Finch)

Scouts older brother Jem undergoes an even larger change than Scout during the course of the novel. Jem enters adolescence, a time when life is hectic enough and this brings about a change in views and attitudes towards Scout. One of the main points in Jem's development is seen when Jem tells Atticus after Dill runs away from home, Scout recalls how he “broke the one remaining code of our childhood”. He also begins to think of himself more as an adult, Scout describes how he: “picked up a rock and threw it...'Atticus is a gentleman, just like me!'”, which could suggest that Jem is still a child at heart. The lynch mob could be seen as a main point where the relationship between Jem and Atticus changes for the better. This could be perceived as the point where Jem becomes a man: “As Atticus's fists went to his hips so did Jem's” could suggest a new found courage, something Atticus later congratulates Jem on: he “massaged Jem's hair, his one gesture of affection”. The trial is also much more devastating for Jem than it is for Scout or Atticus, he truly believed Tom would win seeing the overwhelming evidence in his favour. The guilty verdict therefore comes as a shock: “each guilty was a separate jab between them”. Jem becomes disillusioned by justice and society. However, due to Atticus's strong parenting there is hope, Jem moves onto protect an insect, claiming “they don't bother you”, he has obviously learnt a valuable lesson.


Atticus Finch

Atticus is a widower and lawyer, the father of Jem and Scout. At the beginning of the novel we are introduced to the description of Atticus as “satisfactory”. This could suggest Atticus isn't an ideal father or simply what the children perceive as an ideal father isn't what we as the audience may consider as ideal. This is emphasised when the children claim: “our father doesn't do anything”. The children soon realise however that Atticus is much more able than they initially thought, demonstrated by his shooting of a mad dog, and the nickname 'one shot Finch'. Atticus is also a fair and honest man. Scout describes how: “Atticus doesn't ever just listen to Jem's side of it, he hears mine too”. He also teaches them the lessons that school fails to, for example he teaches them to “see what real courage is”, by encouraging Jem to read to Mrs Dubose, a dying morphine addict who is trying to combat her addiction. This process of learning is emphasised by Scout at the end of the novel when she claims there “wasn't much else to learn, except possibly algebra”. Despite what he may appear to be on the surface, Atticus is also a caring father. Scout describes how he “massaged Jem's hair, his one gesture of affection”. He also understands the children’s needs, for example their need for a mother is chiefly taken on by Calpurnia. He however is not perfect. In the closing chapter of the novel he clearly misjudges the extent of Ewells want for revenge, which could have resulted in his children’s deaths. Other people in the community also don't approve of him, they describe how his “children run wild”. But overall Atticus is an excellent father and a moral guidance for Jem and Scout to follow.


Aunt Alexandra

Scout and Jem's aunt, Alexandra comes to the Finches household just before the trial aware of the great burden Atticus is taking on. Lee describes how “Aunt Alexandra fitted into the World of Maycomb like a hand into a glove”, this could suggest that Aunt Alexandra as a character is used by Lee to act an insight for the reader into the attitudes in Maycomb. This may have been used to try and overcome the restrictions imposed due to a first person narrative. Because of this structure it would be impossible for the reader to come across every view and attitude within Maycomb, so instead these attitudes are represented by certain characters in the book. Aunt Alexandra as a person may be considered to be a bit 'backwards' in her views and opinions. She provides Scout with the impression that “Everyone in Maycomb, it seemed had a streak: a drinking streak…” We as the reader can see this view as unfair and provides an insight into the social divisions that exist within Maycomb. Her views of the Cunningham’s, follow this trend. She tells Scout she can't be associated with them “because-he-is-trash”. Overall however Aunt Alexandra is a caring character who seeks to help her family the only way she knows how, and whilst we may not always agree with her opinions, her heart is always in the right place.


Miss Maudie

Miss Maudie is a long-time friend of the Finch family and shares many of their views and attitudes. She describes how she trusts Atticus “to do right”. She also has a particularly strong relationship with Scout. Scout recalls how Miss Maudie “never laughed unless I meant to be funny”, Miss Maudie clearly understands the children.



Calpurnia is the black cook who works at the Finches household. We are introduced to Calpurnia's position early in the novel; it is described how “Calpurnia rarely commented on the way of white people”. Similar to Aunt Alexandra Calpurnia may have been employed by Lee to act as a representation of people's views, in this case a representation of views within the black community. She is presented as tolerating and understanding. Atticus clearly values her presence and tells Aunt Alexandra how “anything fit to say at the table’s fit to say in front of Calpurnia”. Calpurnia is important in teaching the children to read and write. She also leads a double life, she uses one dialect within the Finch household, similar to how the Finches talk, and another when with people in the black community: “They’s my comp’ny” being a prime example of this.


Tom Robinson

The black man who has been accused by Mayella Ewell and Bob Ewell of rape, Tom is a good and honourable man who initially tried to help Mayella. Tom recalls how he “felt sorry for her”, clearly breaking the strict social boundaries within Maycomb. The story of Tom raping Mayella, is quickly thrown into doubt after learning that Tom has one arm crippled and therefore it appears unlikely that Tom could have physically inflicted the injuries present on Mayella. After the trial Tom attempts to escape, however e is hot and killed, representing the ultimate destruction of innocence.


Boo Radley (Arthur Radley)

Boo Radley is the mysterious character who becomes a point of fascination for the children within the novel. He is very unlike the other residents of Maycomb, living in seclusion with his father and mother (later his brother after his father dies) he never leaves the house. At the beginning of the novel we are given the children’s description of Boo, shaped by neighbourhood legend Boo is presented as a beast who is believed to be “about six-and-a-half feet tall, judging from his tracks”, even the name 'Boo' is somewhat childish in nature. However as the novel progresses we as the audience also gain a somewhat different interpretation of Boo. Boo could be perceived as a victim of his father and of Maycomb. Boogives Scout a blanket when outside in the cold and mends Jem's trousers after they are ripped. He also begins leaving presents such a soap sculptures and a Spelling Bee medal in the tree outside of his house, however this kindness is cut short when Nathan Radley blocks the tree up claiming it to be dead.

In the closing scenes of the novel, the children's lives are threatened and it is Boo Radley who comes to the children's' rescue. He could be considered to be the ultimate symbol of good within the novel. He could be considered to be a metaphor for the 'mockingbird' within the novel. Scout describes how hurting Boo would be like “shootin' a mockingbird”.


Bob Ewell

Bob Ewell is a foul mouthed racist, who is presented as an arrogant bigot. As the trial unfolds it quickly becomes clear that Tom could not have physically raped Mayella and that the bruises must have subsequently been from a beating from Bob. In the closing chapter of the novel our dislike of Bob is furthered due to his attempted murder of the children. Interestingly as a character Bob Ewell is one we as the audience are encouraged to feel no sympathy for. He is an alcoholic with depended children and his wife is dead, however due to the extent of his racism we cannot sympathise with him. His racist attitudes are demonstrated to their fullest extent when he calls Tom a “black nigger”, by not only referring to Tom as a 'nigger' but a 'black nigger' he could have deliberately used this for effect which could suggest he takes racism to a whole new low.


Mayella Ewell

Mayella Ewell is the character who accuses Tom Robinson of rape. Unlike Bob, she however is presented somewhat sympathetically. She is described by Scout as “the loneliest person in the World”, and takes offence to being called ‘Miss’. There is also a question of whether she is a victim of sexual abuse, Tom tells the jury how she told him “What her father does to her don’t count” before kissing him.


Dill (Charles Baker Harris)

A friend of the Jem and Scout who comes to stay in Maycomb for the summer, Dill is a young and innocent character, who could have been used by Lee to symbolise Jem and Scouts childhood. He takes part in the children's attempts to see Boo, however is not there in the closing chapters of the novel for his ambitions to become a reality.