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To Kill a Mockingbird: Characters

written by: Jessica Cook • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 10/23/2013

Do you have a hard time keeping track of all the residents of Maycomb County? If so, look no further. Contains a description of the major and minor characters in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

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    Introduction

    When you read To Kill a Mockingbird, it might be easy to keep track of Scout, Jem, and Dill. Maybe you're even familiar with Atticus and Calpurnia, and perhaps Tom Robinson and Boo Radley are also easy to remember. But those are only a few of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird; what about the rest? If you need help remembering the cast of characters from Harper Lee's novel, keep this study guide handy. It will assist you in keeping track of the To Kill a Mockingbird characters as you read.

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    The Finch Family

    The main characters in this novel are part of the Finch family. They include:

    1) Jean Louise Finch, aka "Scout." Scout is the narrator of the novel; at the start, she is an adult looking back on her childhood. During the bulk of the novel, she is six to nine years old. Scout's narration of the novel is based on the perspective of a child, and a child's interpretation of the events. Therefore, as you read the novel, you have to consider her credibility in reporting the facts of those times.

    2) Jeremy Finch, aka "Jem." Jem is Scout's big brother; he is between the ages of 10 and 13 for the events of the novel. Jem goes through a significant change during the book, trying to come into his own as a young man and understand his feelings toward his father. He acts as a guardian to Scout on most of their adventures, much to her chagrin.

    3) Atticus Finch. Atticus is Scout and Jem's father. He has a casual, friendly relationship with his children; as Scout puts it in chapter one, "Jem and I found our father satisfactory; he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment." Atticus is an attorney in Maycomb, and he becomes involved in an important trial when he agrees to defend a black man accused of rape.

    4) Uncle Jack Finch. Jack is Atticus's younger brother, ten years Atticus's junior. He is a doctor living in the Boston area, but occasionally enters the events of the novel. Scout looks up to Uncle Jack and considers him to be much livelier than her own father.

    5) Aunt Alexandra. Alexandra is Atticus's sister, and she simply cannot believe what a tomboy Scout is turning out to be. She attempts to take over Scout's education at one point in the novel, and tries to turn Scout into a proper little lady. She and Scout frequently butt heads.

    6) Calpurnia. Calpurnia is the Finch's maid, and she is black. She acts as a surrogate mother figure to Scout and Jem, whose own mother died when Scout was two and Jem was six. Scout and Calpurnia tend to argue a lot, but at the heart of their relationship is a strong bond.

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    The Residents of Maycomb

    Scout and Jem are surrounded by friends and family in Maycomb; as Scout tells us in the first chapter, "Atticus was related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town." Maycomb is a tired, sleepy old Southern town full of quite a cast of characters, including:

    1) Miss Maudie Atkinson. Miss Maudie is the Finch's neighbor, and she frequently invites the children into her home and her heart. They consider her to be a good friend of the family, and she guides them through many of their life questions.

    2) Mrs. Henry Dubose. "Mrs. Dubose was plain hell," according to Scout (chapter 1). Mrs. Dubose's house marks the northern boundary of Scout and Jem's boundaries during the summer. She is a mean old widow, but she fights a secret and courageous battle against a morphine addiction.

    3) Boo Radley. Boo Radley is the reclusive neighbor whose house marks the southern boundary for Scout and Jem's adventures. He secretly watches over the children and eventually saves them from harm at the end of the novel. He got into trouble as a teenager and became the prisoner of his own home - with his parents as the wardens, and later his brother - ever since.

    4) Bob and Mayella Ewell. The Ewell family is dirt-poor, racist, and they live on the "bad side" of town. Mayella Ewell calls Tom Robinson into her home and kisses him; when her father finds out, he accuses Tom of rape and sets into motion the events leading to Tom's trial. Bob Ewell threatens Atticus during the novel and tries to attack the children in the end.

    5) Walter Cunningham, Sr. and Jr. Walter Cunningham, Jr. is one of Scout's classmates. He comes from a poor family, and Scout invites him to come to her house for lunch and laughs at his poor manners. Mr. Cunningham leads the lynch mob that comes after Tom Robinson, but Scout manages to stop them by talking to him about his son.

    6) Tom Robinson. Tom is the black man accused of raping Mayella Ewell. His guilty verdict is a symbol of the town's reluctance to slough off old racist views.

    7) Heck Tate. Heck is the town sheriff; he is a good and honest lawman who tries to serve his town well.

    8) Mr. Underwood. Mr. Underwood is the town's newspaper editor. He comes to Atticus's aid when the lynch mob comes after Tom.

    9) Mr. Dolphus Raymond. Mr. Raymond is supposedly the town drunk, but in reality he only drinks Coca-Cola out of his brown paper bag. He prefers the company of the black residents of Maycomb, and it makes the white residents more comfortable to assume he only feels that way because he's always drunk. He helps Dill process his feelings after Tom's verdict is announced.

    10) Charles Baker Harris, aka "Dill." Dill only comes to Maycomb during the summers. His first summertime visit to Maycomb marks the beginning of Scout and Jem's adventures trying to get Boo Radley to come out of his house. Dill's Aunt Rachel lives near the Finches.

To Kill a Mockingbird

A series of study guide articles on To Kill a Mockingbird, from character descriptions to plot summaries and an analysis of the novel's symbolism.
  1. To Kill a Mockingbird: Characters
  2. Symbolism in To Kill a Mockingbird
  3. “To Kill a Mockingbird” Study Guide: Common Themes in the Novel
  4. The Banning of “To Kill a Mockingbird”: What Was the Controversy?