To Kill a Mockingbird is a book about Scout Finch, a bright young girl growing up in America during the Great Depression. Scout’s father, Atticus, is an affluent lawyer, so their family is suffering less than most people during this difficult period. Scout and her brother, Jem, hear rumors about a creepy old house in their neighborhood. Nathan Radley and his mentally-ill brother, Boo, live there. Some townsfolk claim that Boo hasn’t left the premises in several years. One night, Scout, Jem, and their friend Dill decide to break into the Radley house to see what’s inside. Nathan hears noises and fires his gun at them, believing they are thieves. Luckily, no one is injured, and the kids escape. Months later, the children pass by the Radley house and discover gifts packed inside a tree near the house. They believe it was Boo that left the presents there for them.
Meanwhile, most of the white community in town has become furious with Atticus. He’s decided to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. The racist residents of the town assume that Tom is guilty and believe that he doesn’t deserve a trial. One night before the trial, an angry mob gathers outside the jail, hoping to kidnap Tom and hang him. Atticus and the children speak to them and manage to disperse the crowd before Tom is harmed.
When the trial begins, Atticus puts up a masterful defense. He says that Mayella, the woman who claimed Tom raped her, is lying. Her motive is to hide the shame she feels about having a consensual, interracial relationship with Tom. Atticus puts forth solid evidence that Mayella’s injuries were caused by her father, Bob, who beat her after learning about the affair. In the end, however, the jury ignores the evidence and convicts Tom of murder. Shortly after, Tom is shot when he tries to escape from jail.