Where do I start? I love the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Back in 8th grade we had to read the book and write a paper on it. I found the paper, but I couldn’t really tell you much about the prompt. For some odd reason I remember my dad telling me that To Kill a Mockingbird was one of his favorite books. It is entirely possible that he told me that to get me to read it without complaining but for some reason it still sticks out.
With the “new” Harper Lee book, Go Set a Watchman, recently released. I wanted to read To Kill a Mockingbird again before starting her new book. I’ve heard many things about it but for now we’ll stick with To Kill a Mockingbird.
A story of mystery, friendship & race To Kill a Mockingbird is told from a child’s perspective. We meet the narrator and main character Scout and her brother Jem at the very start of the book. Along with their summer counterpart Dill, Jem and Scout are always looking for a fun time.
Mystery surrounds their neighbor’s house as Boo Radley never comes outside. Tall tales of Boo’s life keep the kids entertained for hours as they try and re-enact them. Jem and Scout dream of the day that they come face to face with Boo. As they discover little presents left in the tree for them by Boo, Scout struggles with the idea of Boo not being as bad as everyone makes him out to be.
“Summer, and he watches his children’s heart break. Autumn again and Boo’s children needed him. Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.”
― Harper Lee,
Atticus Finch (Scout & Jem’s father) is the local town lawyer and is forced into one of the biggest trials of the time. Bob Ewell (one of the town drunks) has accused Tom Robinson (an African American field hand) of raping his daughter Mayella. The second part of the book is focused pretty heavily on the trial and the lessons learned from it.
Going into the trial, Atticus knows it will be an uphill battle not because Tom Robinson is guilty, but because of his race. Scout and Jem sneak into the court house to watch the trial. Both were able to understand when Atticus proved Tom’s innocence. After hours of deliberation, the jury still found Tom guilty.
With the ability to appeal Atticus hadn’t lost faith. He also made the point to Jem that it wasn’t a quick verdict and that he had almost won the jury over as some took longer than others to come to a guilty decision. At the end of the day it was still a lesson of race in their little town for Jem, Dill & Scout.
“The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”
― Harper Lee,
Even with the trial over, the Finch family is unable to escape the results. Not only was Tom Robinson “guilty” but the Ewalls are out to get Atticus and his family for trying to prove what really had happened. A spooky Halloween and an unlikely friend wrap up our time with Scout and her family.
I was so happy I went back and decided to read this book again. Not only does it set me up to compare/enjoy Go Set a Watchman but I’m happy to have read it so many years later. I’m sure that when I read this book back in 8th grade I missed a lot of the different story lines.
The book does take a little bit of time to get used to reading as it is written in English as it should be experienced. I found that every time I picked it back up it took a few minutes to get back into the difference in language. At the same time, I feel like that adds so much more to the book. It helps to put yourself back in the “tired old town” of Maycomb Alabama during the depression.
If you are thinking about picking the book back up (you can find it EVERY WHERE right now) I would highly recommend it. Most people I’ve talked to have mentioned that the last time they read it was junior high or high school. Read it again and see if the experience is different this time around. You won’t regret it!
I’m slowly catching back up on the 2015 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge… this book qualified as my Pulitzer Prize winning book!