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PLOT STRUCTURE ANALYSIS
To Kill A Mockingbird is divided into 2 parts. The first part extends from Chapter 1 to Chapter 11, and the second part from Chapter 12 to Chapter 31. Part 1 and Part 2 though connected with events and actions, have separate identities. Part 2 is concerned mostly with Robinsonís trial and is well unified. Part 1 contains several episodes which are relevant to the issue dealt with in Part 2.
Part 2, which is longer than part 1, focuses on the novelís main theme: racial prejudice still prevalent in the South, which denied equal status to the blacks and the whites. It entirely consists of the Tom Robinson trial. This begins from the middle of chapter 16 and ends in Chapter 21. However, reference to the case is made before and after these chapters too.
Part 1 mainly deals with the characters of Jem, Scout and Atticus, and the innocent reactions of the children to the racial prejudices prevailing in their town. Scout is surprised that Walter has learnt no table manners, yet, the fact that she has invited him for dinner exhibits her sense of equality. Jemís admiration for his father is also depicted in the first few chapters.
The unifying element of both the parts is the unseen presence of Arthur Radley. He occupies the main interest of the children, which shifts away once the trial begins. At the end of the novel, the attention is brought back to Boo Radley, when he rescues the children from the evil clutches of Bob Ewell.
Close examination of the text reveals that Tom Robinson and Boo Radley have much in common. Both are innocent, harmless human beings, yet both are persecuted by the society: Tom for being black, and Boo for being a freak. Harper Lee shows her readers how wrong the society was by scorning such individuals.
Apart from the Tom Robinson trial and the Boo Radley encounter, the incidents in Part 1 are Miss Maudieís house catching fire, the shooting of the rabid dog, and the childrenís encounter with Mrs. Dubose.
One can notice that certain incidents and events take place in the first part to prepare the children for what is going to take place in the second part of the novel. The Ewells are introduced in the first part, so that the reader can fully comprehend the kind of people they are. This enables them to see through the act of Mayella and Bob Ewell. The typical characteristics of southern tradition and culture is also depicted in the first part, to enable the reader to understand why the Tom Robinson case was a futile one from the start. In this manner, both the parts are linked together with episodes, and one finds a structured pattern falling into place.
One can definitely remark that To Kill A Mockingbird is a well- structured, well-knit, unified novel, with both the parts skillfully interlinked through characters and events. Harper Lee has left no thread loose at the end of the novel, and each episode is written to contribute firmly to the unity of the book.