A Critical Analysis on the novel To Kill a Mockingbird

How do you write a critical analysis on a significant piece of literature? Where does one begin to gain an understanding of it? Literature must entertain us most of all, but it can also show us how it impacts our lives for better or for worse. Fiction has been at the center of my life, more so in the last decade than it has ever been in the past, because I began to write it, starting with novels and then attempting short stories (two different beasts altogether), as well as some poetry. Lately, however, I needed to reach deeper and look at fiction in more depth and detail in preparation for graduate school. So I took up the celebrated story of To Kill a Mockingbird and resolved to analyze it. Sure, the novel is taught in high schools (7th and 8th graders?) you might say, and analyzed by the class as a whole, but I wanted to look at Mockingbird from an adult's viewpoint, because I had not read it as a boy in India, where I studied English prose and poetry mostly, and a few American classics, such as works by Mark Twain, Ralph Ellison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Herman Melville. I had read Mockingbird several years ago after arriving in the US, but I began by re-reading the story with more focus and intent. I made notes about the novel's many characters, its voice, theme, values, and meaning—all significant aspects of the story. The words meant so much more when I read the novel with intent and awareness, all the while being aware of Harper Lee's own purpose and history (and the story's famous history since the year it was first published, 1960). I marked this Pulitzer prize-winning work of American fiction with annotations that I wrote in a notebook, jotting down ideas that were relevant to me. And what did I get out of reading Mockingbird? What issues stood out for me more than others? And did I learn anything different that had not been stated before? Of course, I would never know the answer to that last question, although I did arrive at this realization: The novel's lesser-known characters did more to help Atticus and his cause for justice. So I made this awareness the subject of my thesis, although I first sifted through a set of ideas to come up with this thesis topic, which became the basis of my article. And I made sure to place the thesis (often a sentence or several) in the opening paragraph of my critical essay once I began writing it. Here's the article if you are interested: Ignatius_A-Critical Analysis_Mockingbird Hope you like it. ~Ignatius