Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird as an Autobiographical Fiction: An Implicit Set of (Re)Order through Generic Disorder

Meriem Bchir


Set to distinguish literary works and the criteria through which these works are to be written and analyzed, literary genres are based on generic limitations that present the norms by which literary generic order is established.

As it demolishes generic limitations, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is read as an autobiographical fiction in which autobiographical reflections of the writer’s life are inscribed through the amalgamation of fiction and facts. Fictionality of facts in Lee’s work seems to grant fiction, different functions that serve factuality more than fallaciousness. Accordingly, in this paper, fictionality of facts is to be perceived as a break of generic limitations – possibly judged as generic disorder.

Such generic innovation is to be criticized as a means of factual representation of the writer’s life, deposited as a novel way of mirroring the commonly ordered set of codes of the writer’s community- the American south. The role of such a blend of fiction and facts is, however, not restricted to allowing a detached position to the writer in order to grant self representation.  The ‘disordered codes’ of writing in this subgenre have a wider function of implicitly unveiling the disordered aspects of the social and political codes commonly constructed as ‘legitimized order’. Hence, the notion of disorder in the generic form is therefore a triggering exploration of the discounted disorder in content with an attempt to call for a new set of (re)order on both levels. A study of the fictionalization of the subject, in this paper, is therefore to decipher Harper Lee’s implicit attempts of representing her fictionalized subject, all converging in her aim of setting a (re)order at the level of collective subject.


order, disorder, (re)order, fiction, facts, autobiographical fiction.

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