To Kill A Mockingbird

I have just finished reading "To Kill A Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.  This was my first time reading this beautifully written book.  It is interesting how I came across the book because, I didn't really choose it.  One of my distant relatives had passed through my area last year and had stayed the night.  They left this tattered paperback book in my spare bedroom.  I found it later and when I spoke to my relative, he told me to keep the book.  So, I put it on my book shelf and forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago.

When I began reading it, I didn't have much time in my day and so my reading time was sporadic- 20 minutes here, 30 minutes there.  It took me awhile to get into the book because of this.  However, I soon became immersed in the story because of the great characters Harper Lee had created.  Jem, Scout, Dill, Atticus and Calpurnia soon became familiar people to me as the story developed slowly but surely into one I couldn't wait to return to each time I was away from the book.

If you haven't read this beautiful story, I suggest picking up a copy and giving it a try.  One thing I noticed is that it reminded me somewhat of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" in that the character's lives were chronicled for a time and in a time long past.  

I don't want to spoil the book for those who may not have read it, so I will end my commentary and instead post an excerpt from the book which I think shows Harper Lee's masterful use of language and character development.

Excerpt From Chapter 11 of "To Kill A Mockingbird"

This excerpt references Mrs. Dubose, a colorful character that two children in the story, Jem and Scout, come into contact with when they walk through town.  She is portrayed as judgemental, ill tempered and unlikable.  

~Begin Excerpt~

She was vicious.  Once she heard Jem refer to our father as "Atticus" and her reaction was apoplectic. Besides being the sassiest, most disresepectful muts who ever passed her way, we were told that it was quite a pity that our father had not remarried after our mother's death.  A lovelier lady than our mother had never lived, she said, and it was heartbreaking the way Atticus Finch let her children run wild.  I did not remember our mother, but Jem did-- he would tell me about her sometimes-- and he went livid when Mrs. Dubose shot us this message.
        Jem, having survived Boo Radley, a mad dog and other terrors, had concluded that it was cowardly to stop at Miss Rachel's front steps and wait, and had decreed that we must run as far as the post office corner each evening to meet Atticus coming from work.  Countless evenings Atticus would find Jem furious at something Mrs. Dubose had said when we went by.
        "Easy does it, son." Atticus would say.  "She's and old lady and she's ill.  You just hold your head high and be a gentleman.  Whatever she says to you, it's your job not to let her make you mad."
        Jem would say she must be very sick, she hollered so.  When the three of us came to her house, Atticus would sweep off his hat, wave gallantly to her and say, "Good evening, Mrs. Dubose!  You look like a picture this evening."
        I never heard Atticus say like a picture of what.  He would tell her the courthouse news, and would say he hoped with all his heart she'd have a good day tomorrow.  He would return his hat to his head, swing me to his shoulders in her very presence, and we would go home in the twilight.  It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.
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17 Responses Apr 21, 2012

I first read this book at the age of 14. One of my friends had it assigned in her freshman English class and she showed me something she objected to in the book. I had never heard of the book before then and that summer took it out of the library.Now I have my own copy and loaned it to my nephew when HIS teacher assigned it. (Thank God, I got it back again.)

For a quick example.

The case is the biggest thing to hit Maycomb County in years and it turns the whole town against Atticus, or so it seems. Scout and Jem are forced to bear the slurs against their father and watch with shock and disillusionment as their fellow townspeople convict an obviously innocent man because of his race. The only real enemy that Atticus made during the case was Bob Ewell, the trashy white man who accused Tom Robinson of raping his daughter. Despite Ewell's vow to avenge himself against Atticus, Atticus doesn't view Ewell as any real threat

Well I get that, however, if this could be rewritten in a more respectful but enunciated the time era, such as more slang and accents could help the writer use more of their imagination to feel their fustration and fear.

Not to rewrite them, but to look more into the past,to regain the emphasis of the plot that has moved so many people. And research the words from that era to see to the point of this conversation, which is curse words and stereotypical words, are they really the best choices of words to get the plot point across ? I think that with this new world of the computers and media information, we need to search out the view of how people conceptualize and convey images in words. Due to not really changing the way people think, rather to make more directional need to look at the event within the larger context of world history. From my own personal experience I never heard anyone ever call any black person a \"******\", ever. So, just using this statement as example, what other type of word choices could have used, to get the reader the point, which was designated as someone who is obviously black skinned, possibly uneducated, maybe very poor, possibly dirty clothes, or might have had a drinking problem. I hope that you see this a genuine and none racist illustration I\'m using.
I learned a very important lesson as I thought about this and how just the words can influence many people. For example, many people in the music industry sing songs to entertain someone. I think to get more of a spin emotions, more should just drop words that are cursing in the public eye, and learn how to use more adjective combinations. Possibly to stop with that \"old\" lingo, and start sound like we are able to become better educated, while reading an event that happen, or that is happening, or what might happen. Using more words like, this character in the story is miserable, unpopular, dejected from that society, would to me become more of a historical classic that people don\'t feel wrong by describing one essential characteristic of the problem in the cause of writing this story. I hope that I\'m not blabbering to you. However, after all many reasons to read is to learn, escape, understand, edification of being able to relate in some way.

Ok, wiping my hands.. Now I\'ll walk away. Oh BTW you most annoying!

So, what's with all of the Southern curse wording, and name calling! Can it really set the era for folks? In my opinion.. Not needed.


Maybe we should begin a discussion on it and share on chapter by chapter .what you guys think.

I love this book .

i love reading too.books are the best

Oh, I love this book! My 6th grade teacher had me read it over thirty years ago. He said I saw things from other people's perspectives and would appreciate Harper Lee's work. <br />
I sure did and I remember sobbing for Tom and Atticus and the unfairness of life, not knowing much about racism at that age. Reading it shaped my perceptions of how we treat each other.<br />
I need to read it again from an adult perspective, I'm sure it will seem even more richly observant of human nature, our cruelty to one another and our courage.

I have thought about reading that book, it looks like I need to move it further up on my to be read list.

I'm so glad I read this as many people have recommended the book to me. My mother says that it's fantastic and her favorite book. We were supposed to read it for school next year but my teacher decided not to, so I will be reading the book.

Yeah, I've read lot of pointless books and I hope this book will be one I can really get into

I read this last year at school in English, when I was 15. I found it so interesting with the racism and prejudice and how bad it use to be and I feel really learnt something. Atticus was my favourite character as what he did for Tom Robinson was so brave, he knew he wouldn't win the trial, he did what was right. Whereas everyone else in my class thought it was boring so didn't listen or read it, which i found really ignorant. They didn't give it a chance because it was an old book. Kinda ironic when you think about, the book is about prejudice and they prejudged the book.

Just remembered the part about the lady addicted to morphine. Wow this book really was ahead of its time... Gonna read it again it's been 25 years

First book that made me think.

Yes I will that book really grips you into the story and then the racism... Wow, I remember after reading it looking thru the video store for the movie. Then being disapointed at the movie... Books rule

I do not know why...but this gave me chills to think about....first that youhad never read it amazes me...this is my all time favorite book...I remember being assigned to read this in highschool and I though I would hate it...I read all the time but very specific in my genre...I fell in love with this story...recently my son saw a bit of it on t.v. and he seemed intigued....this will be a book he and i read together this summer...Thank you for posting this wonderful review!

I cannot type this morning ..forgive my typos lol that makes me crazy!

I will check it out!

Harper Lee is a fascinating person to me...when asked by Oprah to appear on her show..Ms. Lee replied that she would not because she was basically the character of "Boo" in her novel..Have you seen the movie "Infamous"? It's @ Truman Capote who grew up living next door to Harper Lee & how she went with him to Kansas to gather the interviews from the locals in Kansas for his book "In Cold Bold"..witch is also a good read. Some say Harper contributed more than just helping him with the interviews. I have relatives that live near Harper Lee & she still gets out to eat with her 100 yr. old sister...they eat out @ local fish house & she sometimes gambles a little at a local "Indian casino"..She only wrote the one book which is world famous. I guess we all have at least one book in us, but not on her level. Also, the town she lives in puts on the "Mockingbird" play every year with locals playing the parts. I have thought of driving up there in AL to see if I could meet her or maybe just catch a glance.

It's interesting that she maintains her dignified silence although it would be wonderful to hear from her more insights into Mockingbird. My daughter who read the novel for her english class last year was told by her teacher that critics now believe Truman Capote was the real author....I guess we may never really know.

I just finished reading this book today! I forgot how beautiful and sad this novel is.

i'm glad you enjoyed the book so much. i read it too but only because it part of the grade 10 english cirriculum, i would never have read it willingly though. it is a good book and contains some very strong and usefull lessons which we can laern from, but personally my favorite books are ones that involove magic and adventure.

What a really awesome review! I had to read it in HS but I cheated and used cliff notes for the paper....After reading this...I might just give it another go and actually read it this time! A good review and a few years of aging, ***like probably around 15....*** :D can do wonders for a person's tastes!! Thanks for putting this out here!!

Maybe we were smarter then we thought back then....Cause we saved some of the good stuff for NOW!! Or maybe it's just because we made it to the NOW that I can look at it from that perspective....Yikes..your book review is taking a totally introspective track!! Another scary thing about gaining maturity.....We actually THINK so darn much more!! :D

Wow, that was some deep reading!! I think you ability to think the deep thoughts are already payin off! :)

This has long been one of my favorites. I think I was about 10 or 11 the first time I read it, and I've got a very, very tattered copy that hangs on my bookshelf with Walden, Little Women, and a few other favorites.<br />
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Have you seen the film adaptation with Gregory Peck? It's a very good treatment of the story.

Definitely have a watch. It's very good.