To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel—my favorite novel, by Harper Lee. It was published in 1960 and was an immediate success. It won the Pulitzer Prize the following year, and went on to become an American classic.
Ms. Lee’s talent for narration and her ability to take a challenging subject and present it with warmth and humor is an inspiration to this author, and something I aspire to.
“Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” It has been said that the mockingbird taught all the other birds how to sing. With this is mind, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a beautiful song that teaches love, tolerance, and courage.
The story unfolds over several years in a town called Maycomb, the Old South, 1932. Life was hard; there was nothing to buy and no money to buy it with. We get a glimpse of life in the South through the eyes of a young girl, Jean Louise Finch—Scout.
Her father, Atticus Finch, is a respected lawyer and single parent, raising his children with the values he lives by. He is an example of someone who knows that it is better to walk the walk, than to talk the talk.
Jem, Scouts older brother, is like most impressionable teenagers awkwardly making his way through life. He looks to Atticus for guidance and understanding, and although they would not be considered a typical family in 1932, they are a family in the truest sense of the word.
My favorite scene in both the book and the movie is when Atticus makes a passionate appeal to the common sense of the jury, by reviewing the facts of the case. He then reminds them that, under the law, all men are created equal, “….there is one institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and an ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution gentleman is a court.” Even after his impassioned plea the jury finds Tom guilty, but as Atticus leaves the courtroom those in the balcony stand to pay their respect, “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.” What a simple but powerful line—it makes me cry every time.
A timeless story transcends the idea of both time and place, taking the reader on a journey that is both enchanting, and enlightening. A lofty goal, but one worth striving for!
“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.”
—To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee