Welcome to my review!
(Pic provided by Nickala on Deviant Art)
To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic that I believe should be read by everyone at some point in their lives. Whether it’s at 13 years old in preparation for an English test, or on a Sunday night in your mid-forties, the lessons taught are too good to be missed.
The story begins in the 1930’s South American depression, in the town of Maycomb. Through the eyes of a young Scout Finch, we follow a town where injustices are rife, gender roles are strict and politics are complex. And from the get-go, this book inspires us to reflect on our own lives in terms of these themes. A great thing about it is that the variety of characters symbolise events and experiences of these at points in most of our lives.
Mrs Dubose for instance shows us that everyone has their own personal problems. Mr Dolphus Raymond’s lifestyle choices show that everyone has something to criticise. Scout’s Aunt’s pressures for her to become a lady show how we can be forced into something we don’t want. And Tom Robinson’s trial tells how prejudices are always at the forefront of people’s opinions. Harper Lee does well to include an array of charismas in order to ensure that the characters are believable and relatable, too.
My personal favourite characters are Boo Radley due his mysteriousness but need to do good, Scout for her naïve developments in perspective and faith, and Miss Maudie Atkinson because of her wise and straight-to-the-point advice.
Also, take a look at Atticus. The father of Scout and older brother Jem spends countless evenings fighting for the innocence of a black man accused of raping a white woman. He symbolises times when we try to do what is right. Atticus’s actions are what most people wouldn’t do in this time, proving his determination to do what he thinks is right. He is (among a select few), as Lee hints at throughout, a true ‘mockingbird’ in society.
This is another thing I love about this book. The way there is a recurring, underlying theme of morality and justice is inspiring. Most things done by the characters are done in terms of their priorities, and what theybelieve is right. Atticus is actually my favourite character to do this, even though a number of characters have to think about this in the story.
Atticus is a pillar for social change in that era and a role model for the present day. But not only this, whilst fighting racist attitudes throughout the town he is teaching his children valuable lessons. For example, by seeing his father ignoring passing insults and abuse on the street, Jem learns to keep his head held high. Scout also learns from her father that she should be responsible for her actions.
Though, one of the most important lessons the children learn from their father is to try to “step in someone’s shoes and walk around in them”. A.k.a.: perspective. If you want to read a book that forces you to reflect on the way you treat people, and why people behave the way they do, this is it. From Atticus’s guidance, the children start to understand this too. Jem begins to realise why Boo Radley stays indoors for most of his life, and why Mrs Dubose was so mean. Scout realises why Tom and other black people are treated so poorly, among other epiphanies for the children.
One thing that I believe makes a good writer is to be able to manipulate the reader, and Harper Lee is no exception of this. She manipulated my emotions with her words so well that I felt engaged throughout. Though arguably a slow-burner, she picked me up and knocked me down again and kept me on the edge of my seat. And she has a true talent in combining a variety of themes without it becoming saturated or confusing. Whilst conquering humour, compassion and courage, she is also fantastic is handling sensitive themes of rape and racial injustice. If you want a book that will enlighten you, engage you, make you laugh and cry, and entertain you, read this one. I promise you won’t regret it.
Anyway, thank you for reading! Much love to you,