This needs to be shortened down a bit. It's a school assignment in which I am to compare & contrast the book and the movie by exploring themes, character arcs/portrayal, and the setting of the story. Please tear it apart, the teacher is a bit of a hard grader xD
Also, I know there's some parts where I omitted information (like when I don't mention the author in sentence 1) but that was deliberate, since the audience is my teacher.
Title help is much appreciated!
To Kill A Mockingbird is a masterfully crafted story, in which characters have many dimensions and the town of Maycomb is thoroughly rendered, both of which lend themselves to exhibiting the major themes of racism and of loss of innocence. Maycomb is a microcosm of the South in the 1930s, and reflects many aspects of it throughout the story. The characters in Harper Lee’s novel are works of art, and many develop greatly and become much more layered throughout the book and film. Lastly are two of the most important themes in the story that are relevant still: racism and innocence.
“[Maycomb, Alabama was] a tired old town when I first knew it… There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go…” The town is quite poor, which is evident not only in the attire of individuals in the movie - casual, often dirty or torn overalls and work clothes - but also the uncommon nature of the ability to read and write in many of the townsfolk. For instance, in both versions, the first words Dill says when he introduces himself is that he can read. That’s something to brag about, especially at his age; were this a more educated town, most children would know how to read. Something that the movie has that the book does not, however, is a soundtrack, and this greatly adds to the atmosphere of Maycomb: the music of the Radley place is an excellent example of this, as it gets creepier and more suspenseful when the house is shown, reflecting the mystery and intrigue. The book tends to demonstrate this kind of air with more description: how the Radley place was run-down, how people avoided it, how one rarely saw anyone come in or out and how few knew what or who was inside anymore. Many aspects of Maycomb - from the themes, like racism and sexism, to everyone-knows-everyone culture, to its lack of money and education - portray the South in and of itself at the time, making it a kind of microcosm.
The depiction of Calpurnia is probably one of the more evident differences between the book and the film: both versions of To Kill A Mockingbird show her as a strong, resilient woman. However, the movie doesn’t show her as anything but a servant to the Finch family and a disciplinary figure to Scout and Jem. In the book, however, she is far more than that: she’s a mother to them, and one of Scout’s few female role models that she respects. Her maternal feelings for them is obvious when they are in the African-American church and she stands up for the children when Lula becomes enraged about the white children. Unlike Cal, Scout’s development is evident in both versions: she starts as a very hotheaded individual who fights before she thinks. It’s only when Atticus tells her not to fight anymore over the insults that are directed at him that she exhibits any self-control over the matter, sheerly out of loyalty to her father. Through this ordeal she learns to reason before she acts.
A large part of her growing up is one of many aspects of a major theme of the story: loss of innocence. “Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird,” Atticus tells his children. This is because mockingbirds are innocent: they don’t do anything “...but sing their hearts out for us.” There are many metaphorical mockingbirds: Tom Robinson, who is killed; Arthur Radley, who is evidently very kind yet still harmed; the black community as a whole, who are many good people who are being hurt by the prejudice they face. At the beginning of the story, Scout is a naive young girl: by the end, she sees the inherent, cruel nature of humans in addition to the racism and sexism, even in its subtlety - for instance, an acceptance of the status of black people in the community by Scout. The movie portrays a lot of this through segregation (e.g. the African-Americans on the higher, hotter balcony in the court) and the book shows it more through Scout’s narration (like how she simply doesn’t take notice of much of a lot of the mistreatment of blacks).
To Kill A Mockingbird is a classic story, and much of its popularity comes from its beautifully crafted town, multi-layered characters, and the themes that are not only well-depicted but also very complex, and both the movie and the book did well in portraying this, if in different ways. From the depiction of a slow, 1930s town to the subtleties of the prejudice of the time, this story is truly timeless and will hold a special place in its readers hearts forever.