This is a list of characters
from the successful 1960
novel (or 1962
film) To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
Novel used in many English studies - widely known
Scout and Jem's father. He is not troubled by the fact that his children refer to him by his first name rather than the common terms used such as "father", "dad", "papa", "pop", etc. (although Jem and Scout sometimes refer to him as 'sir'). He is polite to every person he encounters, regardless of their race or social class (something that confuses Mayella Ewell in court). In his childhood he was also known as One-Shot Finch due to his exemplary marksmanship. The children first learn of this when he shot a rabid dog on their street. Lee has taken care in choosing her characters' names. Atticus was the name of a Roman philosopher, Titus Pomponius Atticus, who never took sides in arguments. He explains to the kids why it is a sin to kill a mockingbird. He's a single parent and nearly fifty years old when we first meet him. His sister does not approve of his parenting skills.
Jean Louise "Scout" Finch
is the main character and the narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird. She is commonly harassed by many of the female figures for being a tomboy. She is smart for her age and has trouble in school because she can already read and write when she starts first grade. She is in love with Dill Harris (only a childish love), who comes to visit from Mississippi every summer. She matures as the novel progresses but still retains some of her childish ways. The novel is written from the point of view of Scout when she is older and she often comments on how she didn't understand something at the time, but now, as a grown up, she does. She is the only one of the three children to see Boo Radley, and actually talk to him. She learns a lot by "standing in his shoes." She was terrified of Boo, but once she actually saw him, she realized he was harmless. She learns the true value of getting to know someone before "judging them." She is sad at the end that she never gave him anything back, and he gave them treasures and their lives.
Charles Baker Harris
comes to stay with his aunt Miss Rachel every summer. He tells the kids the first time he meets them that his nickname is "Dill."He becomes best friends with Jem and Scout. He joins in their games of reenacting books to help pass the long summer days. He is the one who comes up with the idea of making Boo come out of his house. He even dares Jem to knock on the door, but finally lets Jem just touch the house. The children spend the good part of one summer playing the "Radley Game," where they act out the part where Boo stabs his father. Atticus finally catches them and makes them quit. He promises to marry Scout. He is small for his age and his hair sticks up "like duck fluff." He is illegitimate, and has been sent often from relative to relative to avoid shaming his family, until his mother marries a man who gives Dill gifts to occupy him and to keep him out of the way; this betrayal drives Dill to run away. It is only with the Finch family that he feels any sense of "family".
Small and devilish, Charles Baker "Dill" Harris is Scout and Jem's summer friend. He instigates much of the children's mischief by daring Jem to perform acts such as approaching the Radley house. He seems to have a limitless imagination, and his appeal is only enhanced by his firsthand knowledge of movies such as Dracula. Seemingly ignored (but not neglected) by his parents, Dill enjoys his yearly visits to his aunt, Rachel Haverford, who lives next door to the Finches — he even runs away from home one summer to come to Maycomb. A year older than Scout, Dill has declared he will one day marry her, a statement she seems to accept matter-of factly.
Dill Harris: Charles Baker Harris (Dill) is the little boy who spends the summers with his aunt next door to the Finch family. Dill is Scout and Jem's dearest friend and they spend the summers playing and trying to find ways to make Boo Radley come out. Dill asked Scout to marry him during his second Maycomb summer, and he returns to endure with them the most difficult summer of their lives -- the summer Tom Robinson's case goes to court. While they watch the trial, Dill gets upset about the way the prosecuting attorney treats Tom while he's on the stand. Dill can't understand why anyone would want to be so cruel to another human being.
is the cook to the Finch family however Calpurnia is treated like much more than a cook and is deeply respected by Atticus (he remarks in her defense that she "never indulged [the children] like most colored nurses"); she can be described as a strict mother figure and refers to Scout and Jem as "her kids". In Scout's early life she provides discipline, instruction, and love, and is essentially Scout's "mother figure", due to the death of her mother. Calpurnia is one of the few black persons in the novel who is able to read and write, and teaches Scout to write prior to Scout's entry into school. She is believed to be just a few years older than Atticus (in fact, they grew up together, and Atticus's father gave her the first book she ever read) but since she doesn't know when she was born, she simply has her 'birthday' at Christmas, due to it being easy to remember.
Living in two different communities, a black and white one, Calpurnia has two different perspectives on things, and Scout notices that she speaks and acts differently among her black friends than at their home, which surprises and confuses her. Because of her unique status, she can relate to both sides of stories.
Arthur "Boo" Radley
, nicknamed "Boo"
by the children of Maycomb, is a recluse. The townspeople claim he was friends with "bad kids" in his teens, and caused trouble. Rather than let his son be sent to the industrial school, (where the other two gang boys would eventually receive a high-quality education) his father brought Arthur home. The form of punishment that the father used to keep Boo inside is unclear, but the indications are that Mr. Radley used religion as a weapon. The story is that later Boo stabs his father in the leg with a pair of scissors. He is once again taken to jail. This time when he returns home, he doesn't come out at all except at night. The children, Scout, Jem, and Dill, are obsessed with making "Boo Radley come out." He leaves treasures in an old oak tree for the kids, but Boo's older brother Nathan puts cement in the knothole when the children try to thank Boo in a letter. When Bob Ewell attacks Scout and Jem on Halloween, Boo comes out of his house to save them. At the end of the novel the reader discovers that Boo has watched over the kids the entire time they were growing up.
Arthur "Boo" Radley has a strong presence in the novel even though he isn't seen until its last pages. A local legend for several years, Boo is rumored to wander the neighborhood at night and dine on raw squirrels and cats. He has spent the last fifteen years secluded in his own house. An adolescent prank led his late father to place him under house arrest. His sinister reputation stems from a later incident, when it was rumored that he stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors. Boo becomes a central figure in the imaginations of Scout, Jem, and their neighbor Dill Harris, for their summers are occupied with dramatic re-creations of his life and plans to lure "the monster" out of his house. Despite his history of being abused by his father, Boo is revealed to be a gentle soul through his unseen acts: the gifts he leaves in the tree; his mending of Jem's torn pants; the blanket he puts around Scout the night of the fire; and finally, his rescue of the children from Bob Ewell's murderous attack. The children's fear of Boo Radley, based on ignorance rather than knowledge, subtly reflects the prejudice of the town against Tom Robinson — a connection mirrored in the use of mockingbird imagery for both men.
Boo Radley: Boo Radley (Arthur) is the object of fascination for Jem, Scout, and Dill. He is a recluse who has remained in the house down the street from the Finch house for years. When he was younger he got into some trouble when he became involved with a group of rowdy kids from Old Sarum. One night they resisted arrest by Maycomb County's beadle and locked him in the courthouse outhouse. After that, Arthur's father, Mr. Radley, took him home and he wasn't seen again for fifteen years. But it was said that one day Boo Radley stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors while cutting newspaper clippings for his scrapbook. For this he was locked in the courthouse basement for many years before he came home again. From these stories learned from gossiping neighbors, Jem, Scout, and Dill made ghost stories of Boo Radley, and the other children in town were afraid of him as well. They said that he only came out at night to eat cats and squirrels, and he was the local spook. Boo, however, begins to win Scout and Jem over by leaving gifts for them in the knothole of an oak tree until his brother, Nathan, cements the knothole. Boo even covers Scout with a blanket on a cold night she and Jem spent in front of the Radley house while Miss Maudie's house burned down. Boo was so quiet that Scout never even realized he'd covered her shoulders with the blanket until after the fact. After all the children's attempts to drag Boo Radley from his house, he ends up saving them from Bob Ewell.
Mayella Violet Ewell
is Tom Robinson's 19 year old accuser. She is the eldest daughter of Bob Ewell and has to take care of her siblings, since all the Ewell children go to school only for the first day of each year and their father spends his unemployment money on alcohol. Mayella's mother died when Mayella was a child or adolescent. Since her death, Mayella has become her father's surrogate wife and her sibling's mother. At one point during Tom Robinson's testimony a sexual relationship between Mayella and her father is hinted at ("She says she never kissed a grown man before an' she might as well kiss a negro. She says what her papa do to her don't count."). She was continually physically abused by her father; Atticus politely and indirectly proves this by mentioning the bruises concentrated on her right side. Mayella cannot attend school because she must stay home, take care of her siblings, and clean. She is isolated from her peers and very lonely. In fact, she is so lonely that when Atticus 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 red geraniums, but a change in her situation is unlikely. To get the human contact that she so craves, she attempts to seduce a black man, namely Tom Robinson. Her father sees this and beats her up, calling her a whore. He then finds the sheriff and tells him that his daughter has been raped, even though there is absolutely no proof of this. By testifying against Tom, she may have simply been submitting to her father's demands, or be testifying in anger at Tom's rejections.
Bob Ewell (Name derived from Robert E. Lee Ewell)
is Mayella's father who, after seeing her kiss Tom Robinson, a black man, beats her and accuses Tom of rape. He wins the case in court, but still feels humiliated by what Atticus proved and later swears revenge. He tries to break into Judge Taylor's house and he harasses Helen Robinson. When Tom is shot, his only comment is, "one down and two to go." However, he is too cowardly to attack Atticus outright, so he decides to go after Atticus's kids. One night he attacks Jem and Scout, who fortunately are saved by Boo Radley. Heck Tate, the town sheriff, said that Bob falls down on his own knife, sending it through his rib cage, thus, accidentally killing himself in attempt to stab the children; however, it is inferred that in reality, it is Boo Radley who kills him.
Alexandra Finch Hancock
is Atticus' sister. She is married to James "Uncle Jimmy" Hancock, and has a son named Henry. Alexandra comes to stay with the Finches for two main reasons: she does not find Calpurnia satisfactory as a maternal figure because she is black; and because she takes it upon herself to educate Scout on how to be a "lady" (or rather, a Southern Belle, which Alexandra has mastered to perfection). She quickly becomes a popular Maycomb resident, particularly with Miss Rachel and Miss Stephanie. She doesn't approve of Atticus' style of parenting, and refers to the Cunninghams as "trash", of which Scout is offended. She is the grandmother of Francis (her son, Henry, is Francis' father). At first it seems that Scout shows no respect to Alexandra, finding her purpose minimal. Upon the story's ending, Alexandra, at first finding Scout as a vile, un-ladylike girl, is deeply disturbed by the attack wrought upon Scout and Jem by Bob Ewell. She almost feels as though it is her doing that the children were attacked. Though she does not approve of all Atticus does, we see a softer, more human side to her when, in the kitchen, Atticus tells her about the death of Tom Robinson, and she breaks down, worried about what will happen to him.
is Atticus' brother who has no family but owns a female cat. He comes during Christmas time and is well-liked by both of Atticus' children. He teaches Scout and Jem to shoot the air-rifles their father bought them as Christmas presents. He realizes that Scout is using foul language and warns her that he will lick (spank
) her if she doesn't stop. During Christmas at the Finch Landing, Francis (Alexandra's grandson) provokes Scout and she beats him up. After Jack hears about it, he spanks her. Later, at home, Scout tells him of what Francis called Atticus, and Jack apologizes. He is a doctor, and, like Atticus, moved away from the Finches' Landing, showing that he too is free from southern bondage. After Jack Finch punishes Scout for her bad language, Scout tells him the reason she used the foul language and he immediately wants to punish Francis. Scout admires his talent for telling a story to distract her whenever he treats her various bumps and bruises.
Miss Maudie Atkinson
lives across the street from the Finch family. She is described as a woman of about fifty who enjoys baking and gardening; her cakes are especially held in high regard. She is also considered by some to be a symbolic Mockingbird, as she is frequently harassed by devout Primitive Baptists
(Foot-Washing Baptist), who tell her that her enjoyment of gardening is sin. Miss Maudie befriends Scout and Jem and tells them about Atticus as a boy. During the course of the novel, her house burns down (this event does not take place in the film); however, she shows remarkable courage throughout this (even joking that she wanted to burn it down herself to make more room for her flowers). She is not prejudiced, like many of her Southern neighbors, and could be described as a female version of Atticus. She shares Atticus’s passion for justice and is the children’s best friend among Maycomb’s adults, often cheering them up.
Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose
is an elderly woman who lives near the Finches. Scout describes Mrs. Dubose as 'plain hell.' A virulent racist
, she calls Atticus a "nigger-lover" to his children, and the upset Jem objects and ravages Mrs. Dubose's camellias
. As a punishment, Jem is assigned to read to Mrs. Dubose each day. She has a fit each time he reads, and when the alarm rings, Jem is allowed to leave. After a month and a week of reading, Jem is finally allowed to stop. Mrs. Dubose dies shortly thereafter. Atticus informs Jem that Mrs. Dubose had fallen victim to an addiction to morphine
. By reading to her, Jem had helped end her addiction, her dying wish. In thanks she leaves him a candy box with a camellia in it. Jem disposes of the box in anger, but is later seen by Scout admiring the flower. Atticus tells Jem that Mrs. Dubose was the bravest person he ever knew, and he was trying to teach Jem the importance of bravery and respect and the importance of courage when "you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway".
Judge John Taylor
is a white-haired old man with a reputation for running his court in an informal fashion and an enjoyment of cigars. He seems to have no views on almost anything, until he presides over the Tom Robinson trial, in which he shows great distaste for the Ewells and seems to have great respect for Atticus. After the trial, Miss Maudie points out to the children that Judge Taylor had tried to help Tom Robinson by appointing Atticus to the case instead of a new, untried lawyer.
is the town sheriff and a friend of Atticus's. At the end of the novel he is the one who comes up with the story to protect Boo Radley. He knows that if the story got out that Boo saved the children, all of Maycomb's ladies would show up with cakes to thank him. He brings the story full circle by explaining that it would be a "sin."
is a 25-year-old black man who is accused of beating and raping Mayella Ewell. He is defended by Atticus Finch in his trial. As noticed by Scout, his left arm is useless and shriveled, which shows that it is not likely he beat Mayella because the bruises were on the right side of her face. Despite evidence that proves his innocence (his left arm is useless as all the muscles were torn out in a cotton gin accident), he is found guilty of rape and is sentenced to death. While in jail, he attempts to escape, but is shot dead. He has a wife, Helen, and three children. He, like Atticus, is polite and thinks nothing of doing various things for others out of sheer compassion and kindness. He infamously states during his testimony that he "felt right sorry" for Mayella, something that shocks the court.
is a lawyer from Abbottsville. He is the man who presents prosecution against Tom Robinson. When speaking to Tom he talks down to him which leads to Dill's emotional breakdown.
are a poor but proud family in Maycomb, unwilling to accept charity or loans that they are unable to pay back. Mr. Cunningham, the father of Walter Cunningham is a part of the Old Sarum mob that tries to lynch Tom Robinson. His cousin later serves on Robinson's jury, and is the only member of the jury to push for an acquittal. They are an example of a poor white family and are used as a comparison and contrast to the Ewells. Walter is in Scout's first grade class and when she defends him to the teacher she gets her hand spanked with a ruler. She beats him up because he "started her off on the wrong foot" and Jem subsequently invites him home for supper. Towards the end of the story, Scout thinks of them as friends and is glad when Atticus reveals his selection of the cousin for the jury.
is the doctor of Maycomb town. He is well known to Scout and Jem. Scout says that he "Had brought Jem and me into the world, had lead us through every childhood disease known to man including the time Jem fell out of the tree house, and he had never lost our friendship. Dr. Reynolds said that if we were boil-prone things would have been different..." (ch. 28)
. He inspects Jem's broken arm and Scout's minor bruises after the attack from Bob under the Tree.
is a wealthy but disliked white man who had children with a black woman. He pretends he is an alcoholic, but he only drinks Coca-Cola
out of a sack. He does this to put the people of Maycomb at ease, to give them a reason why he lived with a black woman. He knows they will not understand why he lives as he does, so by pretending he is a drunk, he makes life easier for himself (and for Maycomb). Thus, he has all kinds of false rumors spread by Maycomb surrounding his decision. He is also an example of a mockingbird. When Dill and Scout discover that he is not a drunk they are amazed. He shows Scout how sometimes you have to pretend you are something when you really aren't just to make life easier for those around you.
is a store owner in Maycomb who employs Tom and later Helen Robinson. He announces to the court at one point in the trial that he's never had a "speck o' trouble" out of Tom in the eight years he worked for him. When Bob Ewell starts threatening Helen after the trial, Mr. Deas fiercely defends her and threatens several times to have Mr. Ewell arrested if he keeps bothering her.
is Scout's first grade teacher and is new to Maycomb and its ways. She attempts to teach the first grade class using a new standardized system that Jem mistakenly refers to as the Dewey Decimal System
. She is upset that Scout is far more advanced in reading than the rest of her class, and so, in an effort to standardize the class, forbids Scout from reading. She has good intentions, but proves quite incompetent as a teacher.
is the reverend of the First Purchase M.E. African Church in Maycomb County. This is the church Tom Robinson attended. Reverend Sykes forces the congregation each to donate 10 cents for Tom Robinson's family since at the time, Tom's wife Helen was having trouble finding any work. During the trial, when the courtroom was too packed for the children to finds seats, Reverend Sykes lets the kids sit with him up in the colored balcony. This is another great example of how the black community accepts the Finches, and they in turn accept them.
, Calpurnia's oldest son, is the town garbage collector. He is one of only four people in First Purchase church who can read, and so he is the vocal leader, leading hymns in the black First Purchase Church by "lining," reading a line of verse and having the congregation repeat it. After Atticus shoots a rabid dog, Tim Johnson (property of the Mobile bus driver, Harry Johnson), Zeebo is called to remove the animal's corpse and disinfect the location.
is the neighborhood gossip, who once claimed she saw Boo Radley through her bedroom window. She is one of the first on the scene after a gunshot is heard behind the Radley house. Because she is the neighborhood gossip, it is unwise to think of anything that she says as true, because most of the time it is not true at all. She is a friend of Alexandra. She lets Miss Maudie live with her when Miss Maudie's house burns down. She is thrilled to pass on gossip to the kids about Atticus.
Miss Rachel Haverford
is Dill's aunt and the Finch's neighbor. Dill's mom in Meridian is Rachel's sister. Dill says that she drinks a lot of alcohol every morning, due to the fact that she found a rattlesnake in her closet when she hung up her negligee; Aunt Alexandra snaps at him and tells him not to talk about a lady like that. She is a racist. Dill once claimed she had said "If a man like Atticus Finch wants to butt his head against a stone wall it's his head."
Braxton Bragg Underwood
is the town's newspaper's editor. When Atticus Finch is approached by a small mob, he watches over Atticus with a shotgun from his window in order to assure his safety. He is also the person who tells Atticus his children have been sitting in the balcony during the trial. In the newspaper he writes that it is a sin to kill a disabled person after Tom is killed. Although he 'doesn't let a coloured person near him', he strongly believes in justice for all people and can be cynical at times.
is Scout and Jem's cousin, the grandson of Atticus' sister Alexandra. (his father was Alexandra's son, Henry) When he visits during Christmas time, he upsets Scout by calling Atticus a "Nigger-Lover." Scout is angry enough at this that she beats Francis up and swears at him, and is later punished by Uncle Jack for this.
is the wife of Tom Robinson. She is rarely mentioned in the novel. She has 3 children. She is harassed by Bob Ewell after the trial of her husband. A few times (or maybe even once) she walks on the public road Bob Ewell would "chunk" at her, or follow her, crooning foul words. Link Deas tells him to stop.
is Mrs. Dubose's housekeeper.
is a son of Bob Ewell's who is in the same class with Scout her first day of first grade. Like the rest of the Ewell children, he only attends the first day of school each year. The one day he attends class he insults the teacher, Miss Caroline, so forcefully that he reduces her to tears.
is the angry black woman who confronts Calpurnia when she brings Jem and Scout to the all-black Church. She is an example of social prejudice.
, The producer of the pageant in which Scout plays a ham. She drinks a lot but is the most devout lady in Maycomb.