To Kill A MockingbirdI 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.
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.