To Kill a Mockingbird

Understanding the Meaning of the Books Mentioned in Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" 11th Grade

In To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a variety of allusions to other works of literature arise, suggesting to the adept reader their significance to the plot and in our understanding of many characters and themes. Two books of special importance, Ivanhoe and The Gray Ghost – as these two are of particular importance and are mentioned relatively more than the others, but also about other more minor books such as The Rover Boys, Tarzan, Tom Swift, Meditations of Joshua S. St. Clair, and the magazine Popular Mechanics. Tarzan, The Rover Boy, and Tom Swift are all mentioned very early in the book and all in one sentence. They are mentioned by Jean-Louise as the books they (they being Jem, Dill, and Jean) reenacted in their summer-games. All three of these books are about children growing up, a central and complex theme of Lee's own novel.

Tarzan is about a feral child – John Clayton, the son of two marooned Englishmen – Alice and John. Clayton, is adopted by the she-ape, Kala, after his parents are killed by the king-ape Kerchak. It could be important to mention that Tarzan – the name Clayton is given by the apes – literally means “white-skin” in the apes’ language. It is this difference, between Tarzan and his adopted ape...

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