To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is a story about Jem and Scout Finch, who are being raised by their father in Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression. The book shows us that Jem and Scout’s childhood was rich with life experiences. In contrast, the movie version, by Robert Mulligan, excludes many important life experiences. Several events in the book are excluded from the movie, but should be included. The events in Scout’s classroom should be included in the movie. Lee includes several events with Scout and her classmates in the book.
One is the first day of school when Scout gets in trouble for trying to explain why Walter Cunningham does not have lunch money. Scout tells Miss Caroline that “[Walter’s] a Cunningham” (Lee 22) to explain why he does not have lunch money, but Walter says he forgot his lunch money. Never the less, Scout keeps insisting that Walter does not have any money, and Miss Caroline smacks her hands with a ruler. Scout is angry because she got in trouble, and attacks Walter in the schoolyard. Mulligan does not include any classroom events; however, he does include Scout and Walter’s fight on the first day of school.
The classroom event should be included in the movie because it explains why Scout and Walter are fighting. In the movie, we only see Scout and Walter run onto the schoolyard and begin fighting. When Jem breaks up the fight, Scout simply says “[Walter] made me start off on the wrong foot. I was trying to explain to that darn lady teacher why he didn’t have no money Leach 2 for his lunch” (Mullighan). Scout’s classroom events also give the reader background information about the Cunninghams. Mrs. Dubose’s role in the movie should be expanded. In the book, Mrs. Dubose verbally attacks Jem and Scout each time they pass her house. One day she tells them “[Atticus] is no better than the niggers and trash that he works for” (Lee 117).
Jem gets so angry he cuts the tops off of all Mrs. Dubose’s camellia bushes, and has to read to her for a month as punishment. In the book, Jem and Scout learn that Mrs. Dubose is not mean and cantankerous for no reason: she is being whined off of morphine. She is dying and does not want to be a morphine addict when she dies. On the contrary, Jem and Scout only have one scene with Mrs. Dubose in the movie. Scout says “hey Mrs. Dubose” as she and Jem walk past Mrs. Dubose’s house, and Mrs. Dubose says “don’t you hey me you ugly girl, you say good afternoon Mrs. Dubose” (Mullighan). The experiences that Jem and Scout have with Mrs. Dubose in the book teach them to have pride, what real courage is, and that things are not always as they appear to be. These lessons are lost in the movie. Mrs. Dubose’s role in the movie should be expanded because she teaches Jem and Scout valuable lessons. Calpurnia’s role in the movie should also be expanded.
In the book, Calpurnia is more than a housekeeper: she is part of the family. She is a like a mother to Jem and Scout and helps raise them, disciplines them, and teaches Scout to write. In the movie, Calpurnia is just a servant. The movie represents some to the themes in the book very well, but overall, is not true to the book. The movie does not capture the essence of what Harper Lee wants us to know after Leach 4 reading the book. The movie does not show us what life is really like in Maycomb, or the life changing experiences Jem and Scout have while growing up.