Style is the writer, what a person is rather then what he knows determines his style. Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird could have been just another book about people growing up in the South during the 1930's. Lee's unique style turns "just another book" into a Pulitzer prize-winning masterpiece, and perhaps one of the greatest American novels. Lee's novel was turned into an Academy Award-winning film, a classic in its own right but the film does not capture the pure genius of the way Lee puts her literary talents together. Harper Lee's dialogue, background, and symbol usage exhibits an unparalleled style.
The novel is highly dramatic and much of the text is in the form of dialogue, Harper Lee makes sure she includes distinctive vocabulary that tells you about the character and attitude of the speaker. The use of the word "nigger" is heavy in the novel, the characters who are decent and un-racist do not use this expression.
Lee has the people who are racist and do cruel things say many vulgar words. One aspect of the Lee's unparalleled style is her treatment of the character's Southern accents, the spelling changes and words run together to indicate the sound patterns of Southern speech, "'...them ain't Maycomb's ways, Miss Caroline, not really... now don't you fret, ma'am'" (Lee 28). A reason why the dialogue is so true to life is because the author grew up in a southern area much like Maycomb County.
Maycomb County could be described as any normal Southern county during the 1930 in the United States. To know the society as deeply as she does, it is obvious that Lee's life has a great impact on the novel. Having the book so accurate, Lee hits the reader with more impact and can
express her views on prejudice and discrimination with stronger force and more focus. The hatred and fear towards blacks and the violence between them are events that are played out in Southern America 1930's and this fictional novel "'- I seen that black nigger yonder ruttin' on my Mayella!'" (173). This all expresses the individuality of the author, her raising-up in the deep South and the racism she witnessed. Lee shows racism by character speech but also has an effective use of symbols to get her point across, furthering her individuality as an author.
Harper Lee uses symbolism rather extensively throughout this story, and much of it refers to the problems of racism in the South during the early twentieth century. Harper Lee's effective use of racial symbolism can be seen by various examples from the book, such as the racist people or Atticus's actions. The symbolism reveals the prejudice and narrow-mindedness of the common citizens of Maycomb County, the fears they have, and all of the immoral things they do. When Mr. Ewell stands up in during the trial and uses the word "ruttin'" makes black men seem like animals. Style is the distinctive and unique manner in which a writer arranges words, Lee uniquely uses a word which deals with animals to symbolize the black Americans.
Harper Lee's dialogue, background, and symbol usage are the working parts in some great machine. The novel is rich with other wonderful literary devices such as excellent descriptive writing, another key in the style of Harper Lee. Lee leaves a distinct stamp on the literary world with To Kill A Mockingbird, she inspires new writers today with an old American classic. Style is everything and anything that makes an author different from other writers and Harper Lee forever is embedded in our minds as a unique writer, peerless to everyone else.
"Glossary of Literary Terms." Bedford/St.Martins. .
Lee, Harper. To Kill A Mockingbird. New York: Warner Books, 1960.