Daniel Solera's Reviews > To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
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Apr 19, 10

bookshelves: fiction, pulitzer-prize

This was an assigned reading book in middle school, whose only long-lasting imprint on me has been the names "Atticus", "Scout", "Dill" and "Boo Radley". Everything else - plot, imagery, social significance - has been completely forgotten. I vaguely remembered a trial but little else came to mind.

So I decided to re-read it in hopes of redeeming my 7th or 8th grade English teacher. This time around, I loved it from start to finish. To Kill a Mockingbird is a powerful three-part story set in 1930's Alabama. Each "act" is seamlessly woven into the next, narrated by Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, a nine-year old tomboy whose affection for her brother and father is matched by her impulsive, passionate emotions.

The actual plot of the novel, which involves a controversial trial, is second to the idealistic, but unfortunately naive, insight of Scout and her peers. Lee imbues her protagonist with a sophisticated voice, all the while limiting her worldview by placing her in the strict behavioral confines of the Depression-era South. It is with this brilliant combination that we observe the stark contrast between Scout's and her brother Jem's pleas for justice and the context in which they occur. This was my favorite part of the novel, the riveting and fascinating story notwithstanding.

There's a palpable gravitas to stories heavy on social or racial injustice, heavy enough to leave readers shouting defiantly at the characters. Although To Kill a Mockingbird doesn't focus all of its energy on it, the theme of a struggle between groups, be it age, race or social class, permeates the narrative with great frequency and beguiling simplicity. I just wish I could have captured just a fraction of such enjoyment sixteen years ago.
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