If you haven’t read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, the book by Mat Drogemuller’s bed, you’re missing out on a timeless classic set in the deep South that still resonates today #Ferguson
To Kill a Mockingbird
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
Somewhere along the line, the genius of this book was considered too great not to be encapsulated in high school syllabuses everywhere in the English speaking world.
Sadly for me, that meant under-appreciating To Kill a Mockingbird for so many years, viewing its obvious motifs and foreshadowing them with disdain. With only vague memories of a rabid dog and a bespectacled moralist, mostly I admit from the movie, I set about rereading it as an adult hoping to discover something more; I was not disappointed.
To Kill a Mockingbird is the story of Jean Lousie Finch, aka Scout, growing up in Maycomb, a quiet town in the South, in the 1930s.
The novel begins charmingly enough and only mere pages in, the characters begin to take shape, enticing the reader onwards. Scout’s honest, tomboyish approach to life is refreshing to say the least. Her brother Jem is undergoing pesky pre-adolescent changes, but his honesty and goodheartedness endear him to the reader. Dill, a boy of unknown origins, visits Maycomb in the summer and quickly befriends the Finches, impressing them with his adventurous spirit. The Finch’s housekeeper, Calpurnia, is motherly to the children, strict and loving; single father Atticus is simply a mythical figure; wise, moral, and hopeful.
To Kill a Mockingbird unwinds across several subplots into a satisfying story about accepting the world as it is, with all its complexities. As Atticus, a lawyer, accepts a case defending an African-American man accused of rape, Harper Lee documents the town’s reaction from the children’s point of view, who struggle to understand the conflicting existence of good and evil, courage and hatred.
Lee’s classic work is a bildungsroman encompassing a particular time and place in history. Beautifully written and startling in its clarity, To Kill a Mockingbird is a gift to read even today and deserves its accolades (although not its high-school allocation).
At times funny, at times crushingly sad, To Kill a Mockingbird is nevertheless rewarding and will no doubt continue to be appreciated for years to come.