I finally read To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I used to be intimidated by the book and assumed that it would be quite complex especially being categorized as a classic. However, the book turned out to be quite an easy flowing, enjoyable read.
To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated by almost 9 year old Scout. Scout lives with her brother, Jem and their father, Atticus. They also have a friend who features prominently in the book, Dill. Atticus is a lawyer who happens to have been assigned to defend Tom Robison, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Also prominent is the story is ‘Boo’, Mr. Radley. He is a key character although readers only get to interact with him through the children’s narrations.
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
― Harper Lee,
To Kill a Mockingbird revolves around Atticus and his children, his defense of Tom and the children’s interactions with Radley. The book examines key themes such as racism. Scout is a child narrator and so readers get to view racism through her perspective. Its heart wrenching to see how the kids lost their innocence when they had to face the ugliness of racism and the unfairness of the world. Dill and Jem are especially affected by the injustice that they witnessed during the Robinson’s case.
Apart from racism, there was also an aspect of prejudice in the different social classes. For instance; the Ewolls and Cunninghams were regarded poorly by the townspeople due to their social standing. Aunt Alexandra especially openly discourages the children from mingling with the low people in society.
There are a number of interesting themes in this novel that I will not delve into so as not to turn this review into a literary criticism. However, I will just mention that my favourite part of this book was definitely the child narrator aspect. I also liked all the main characters especially Atticus, Jem, Scout and Dill. Scout is an endearing heroine; she is portrayed as being brave. I also liked the fact that she was a tomboy and quite proud about it despite everyone’s effort in forcing her to be more ladylike. I adored the relationship between Scout and her brother, Jem. I love how they used to fight as most siblings do and then make up the next minute. There was one particular physical fight that was a bit funny to read about. After the fight, I found myself smiling when the two siblings walked to their separate bedrooms but not before bidding each other good night. Jem was a little gentleman always taking care of his sister and trying to emulate his dad. I love how at only 11 years old, he started referring to himself as an old man.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a story about awakening. It’s also a story about bigotry and injustice. However, it is also about friendship and family. I am glad that I finally read this book. The courtroom scene reminded me of my Grisham novels and had me at the edge of my seat waiting for the verdict. The children’s antics kept the story moving even when there were no major happenings in the narrations. I highly recommend this book to everyone who has not yet read it.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
― Harper Lee,