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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Overcoming the Monster

Anticipation Stage and "Call"

Scout and Jem are hanging out waiting for something exciting to happen in the sleepy town of Maycomb, when they get their wish: their dad takes on the incredibly unpopular task of defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. Thanks to this action, both kids start to sense a really ugly monster lurking in Maycomb: racism.

Dream Stage

As a grade schooler, Scout is protected from a lot of the real ugliness. She feels safe with her dad and their black cook Calpurnia, but she can't stop getting into trouble—mostly for defending her dad against some nasty name-calling.

Frustration Stage

The trial comes closer, and Scout inadvertently saves her dad (and Tom) when she senses that something's wrong and does her innocent-kid thing on a bunch of men who've come to the jail looking for trouble.

Nightmare Stage

Despite Atticus's best efforts to prove Tom's innocence, the jury still finds him guilty and sentences him to death. It looks like racism has won the day. Or has it?

Thrilling Escape From Death & Death of the Monster

Well, yes, it has. This isn't exactly the thrilling escape from death and death of the monster we were hoping for, but there is a kind of thrilling escape from Bob Ewell, and the jury does deliberate a long time before reaching their verdict. So, we get the sense that some small victory over racism has actually taken place.

But the big monster? Boo. And he doesn't die—but Scout's childish notion of him does, when she realizes that he's just a person like any other person. So you could say that her own prejudice has died, which gives us a teeny bit of hope that, someday, Maycomb's racism will, too.

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