To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
“Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
Jean Louise Finch, also known as Scout is barely 9 years old when she is witnessing her father, Atticus, defending the trial of his life. A black man has been accused of raping a white girl in the small town Maycomb, Alabama. But Scout and her brother, Jem, are also obsessing over their neighbour, Boo Radley, who has never left the house, and they do as much as they dare to get him to come out. And when he finally comes out, it is to save their lives.
Although it’s told through the eyes of the child, this book deals with many important topics; racism, class and gender. It is also based on Harper Lee’s personal life and the people around her, including Truman Capote, and a court case where her father defended two black men.
I first read the book a couple of years ago, and I found it heavy and remembered very little of the story. I knew I loved it, but couldn’t remember why. I’m glad I reread it and I found it easy to read this time around. I love the way Scout tells the story. It is definitely a book I will read again and I must also get around to see the film.
It is still an important book and a must-read. This was also the August book in Line’s 1001 books challenge.
“We know all men are not created equal in the sense some people would have us believe- some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they’re born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others- some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of men. But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal- there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court.”