When my book club announced that they were going to be reading To Kill a Mockingbird for March, I may have whooped aloud. I haven’t read this book since freshman year of high school (18 years ago…what?!) but I could still remember the feeling I had after reading it. I was excited to get back to it although a little anxious.
It’s been 18 years. My perceptions of the world as a 13-year-old are completely different now. Would I still love this book? Would I still get out of it what I did so long ago? Taking a deep breath, I cracked open my copy of the book, the same copy I bought oh so long ago, and began to read.
I need not have worried. This book is considered a classic for a reason, mainly because it stands the test of time. And if there is one thing that this book proved is that you can read it at any age. This book has so many things to teach an individual at any age, from racism to personal values and more.
To Kill a Mockingbird is about growing up in Maycomb, Alabama during the 1930s and is told from the point of view of Scout Finch. The story opens up with the reader getting a feel for the sleepy town and the daily routines. For Scout and her older brother Jem, it’s about getting the mysterious neighbor, Arthur “Boo” Radley to come out of his house. However, pretty soon, the Finch family is faced with something more serious as Scout’s father, Atticus, has agreed to defend a black man who is accused of raping a white woman.
One of my favorite quotes from this book is said early on but carries its weight in every situation that occurs throughout the book.
“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.” -Atticus Finch
I loved Atticus for all of his wisdom. He knows that people do things that may seem horrific or outlandish or insane but rather than just judging them from seems obvious, Atticus tells his children to try to understand them. When he tells Scout this, he is trying to help her understand the Radley family, who is a mystery but this simple quote becomes the foundation for the whole book. I also loved Atticus for taking on a case he knew that he would get hell for. Even though the neighbors let their prejudices stand in the way for what is right, Atticus doesn’t care.
In a conversation he has with his sister who expresses concern about the things people say about him, Atticus says,
“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions… but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
That right there just tells you what kind of person Atticus and I don’t think I need to keep going on about it.
Having Scout as the narrator also puts the point of view of a serious situation in the eyes of a child. I think this is genius on Lee’s part. Too often, adults get caught up in trying to be what society dictates they ought to be. However, children haven’t gotten to that point yet. This is evident just by Scout going against societal norms of being a girl. Rather than wearing dresses and playing with dolls or drinking tea, as her aunt would love her to do, Scout would rather wear overalls and play with her older brother and neighbor Dill. So rather than get the view of the trial from one of the adults, the reader gets the view from that of a child and it’s a whole new perspective.
Although the book focuses mainly on the trial, the book’s does have a subplot, which I mentioned before, the story of the Radley’s. While Boo Radley remains a mystery for most of the book, the reader along with Scout, begins to understands him little by little. In the end, the book comes full circle when we find out just who the real Boo Radley is.
I can go on and on about this book. I am so glad that I loved it just as much as I did back in the day. It will remain a fixture on my book shelf for years to come and I look forward to the day when I can pass it on to my children. For now, I look forward to the discussion in book club.
Have you read To Kill A Mockingbird? If so, what did you think? Let’s discuss! 🙂