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Buddy Reads Discussions > Discussion for To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: *SPOILERS*!

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message 1: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
There will be spoilers in this thread so read the message posts only if you know the book or you don’t mind spoilers.

I’ve been dying to start this thread. (TKAM is one of my favorite books, and I think it's only 1 of 4 books that I’ve read more than 100 times.) Re this thread: First, it was going to be early August, then 7/30. Well, it’s not quite 7/30 U.S. Pacific daylight time but it’s 7/30 in much of the world (or almost 7/30) so...

Several of us have been talking about rereading, or reading, the book To Kill a Mockingbird, and discussing it. It’s the 50th anniversary of the book.

Kathy, Lee, Chrissie, Diane, Jeannette, and I, and I think Gundula, want to discuss the book. Apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone who has expressed interest. Anybody else is free to join in too!

Lee is just starting it. Kathy might not reread it until early August. Chrissie won’t be back from her vacation until sometime in August; so they can join in whenever it’s a good time for them, as can anyone; this will remain an open thread, just like all the other threads here at the Comfort Reads group.

So, whether you've known this book for its whole 50 years or you're reading it for the first time, feel free to discuss anything about this book. The characters, the story, your feelings and memories, etc. etc.

It's fine to discuss the film too, if you'd like.


message 2: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
For those who know the book already, I recently read Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird. It's a compilation of essays by many readers about their thoughts and feelings about the book. Some know Harper Lee very well, and I found their perspectives and information very interesting. It was fascinating to see what parts of To Kill a Mockingbird were based on Harper Lee's life and which were more fictionalized.


Jeannette (Jvmimo) It's been 30 years since I read this book. I will start it next week, probably. I would like my daughter to read it, too.


message 4: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Jeannette wrote: "It's been 30 years since I read this book. I will start it next week, probably. I would like my daughter to read it, too."

Jeannette, Yes, it would be a great book for your daughter to read. I read it for the first time when I was 12; it was already historical fiction then. I'd seen the movie when it came out when I was 9 so I knew the gist of the story already.

I've started a quick reread. I always forget how very funny it is!


message 5: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Oh, in addition to people needing to reread or read it, Chrissie won't be back until sometime in August (I forget when) and I'm willing to wait to post the in depth message posts until she returns. I know she wants to participate.


message 6: by Hayes (last edited Jul 29, 2010 11:08PM) (new)

Hayes (Hayes13) I'll re-read this one with you all! Let's see if I can get my son to read it with me. It would be the first adult (or semi-adult) book in English for him. Might be kind of interesting.


Jeannette (Jvmimo) Hayes wrote: "I'll re-read this one with you all! Let's see if I can get my son to read it with me. It would be the first adult (or semi-adult) book in English for him. Might be kind of interesting."

Does he read/speak primarily Italian? I suppose my daughter's first language would have been German if she had been raised in Germany.

It will be interesting to see what my daughter thinks of this book, being that it is "historical" fiction to her generation, too. (Showing my age here.)


message 8: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Jeannette, I'm 56 and read it for the first time in 1965 when I was 12. It was historical fiction to me then too. It takes place during the 1930s, in depression era Alabama, U.S.A.


Jeannette (Jvmimo) Lisa wrote: "Jeannette, I'm 56 and read it for the first time in 1965 when I was 12. It was historical fiction to me then too. It takes place during the 1930s, in depression era Alabama, U.S.A."

Yes, but in the fifties and sixties, there was so much civil rights activity, and still so much segregation and discrimination, that the themes from the book seemed still current to me, somehow. Just as WWII seems less historical fiction to me than WWI does. My daughter at 16 can't relate to these issues the same way you and I can (I'm 54).

Of course, it has been a long time since I read this book, so I may be hazy on how I am remembering some of it. Plus, the movie was so powerful that those images are mixed in there, too. I am looking forward to the re-read after so long. :)


Hayes (Hayes13) Jeannette wrote: "Hayes wrote: "I'll re-read this one with you all! Let's see if I can get my son to read it with me. It would be the first adult (or semi-adult) book in English for him. Might be kind of interesting..."

Yes, mainly Italian. I perhaps should have pushed a little more in English, but I wanted to make sure that he had a really firm 1st language. He's extremely verbal and probably would have been just fine fully bi-lingual, but with the problems of dyslexia in the family I didn't want to risk it. We're catching up now, and he is doing fine. (And fortunately there is no sign at all of dyslexia! whew!)


Catamorandi (wwwgoodreadscomprofilerandi) | 3 comments I know I am in the minority, but I did not like this book. I definitely admire Harper Lee for writing such a controversial book, which it definitely was when she wrote it, however, I did not like the book itself. I realize it was a very well-written book, but I was very disappointed when I read it about a year ago. Somehow, I expected more. It seemed kind of flat to me. To each his own, I guess.


message 12: by Diane D. (last edited Jul 30, 2010 08:44AM) (new)

Diane D. | 488 comments Lisa, thanks for opening the thread. I am just beginning Part 2. Atticus is a wonderful role model to Jem and Scout. And I love Scout's narration, just like the movie. It's hard to imagine the impact of Atticus representing Tom Robinson back in that day and age. Most times I can't imagine that life was like that, and not really all that long ago when you think about it.


Gundula | 2722 comments Mod
I'm waiting for the book to become available at the library, and then, I will start reading. Kind of exciting reading a famous book like that for the first time.


message 14: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Jeannette, All true. At 12 and living in San Francisco though, 1930s rural/small town Alabama seemed very foreign to me. At 12 I was aware of the civil rights movement but it wasn't until I was around 14 or 15 that I really got it and know much of what was going on.


message 15: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Catamorandi, I'd guess you were in the minority but I'm quite sure you're not alone in your feelings about the book.

I'm really curious re people reading it for the first time as adults think, including the members of this group who are reading it for the first time.

The movie at 9 and the book at 12 were perfect for me at the time, and I still love both. But, if they were new to me now, I really can't say for certain what I'd think.


Diane D. | 488 comments I'm enjoying it, reading it for the first time at age 53. I am just beginning Part 2.


message 17: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Well, I'm rereading it (as I read about 3 or 4 other books!) and I always forget how funny it is. Scout is a hoot! I adore her, and I adore Atticus too.


Jeannette (Jvmimo) Lisa wrote: "Jeannette, All true. At 12 and living in San Francisco though, 1930s rural/small town Alabama seemed very foreign to me. At 12 I was aware of the civil rights movement but it wasn't until I was aro..."

I grew up in Detroit in the '60s, so it was a different experience for me, I suppose.

I, too, wonder what my reaction will be to the book now, as it is practically a "new" book for me, too.


Diane D. | 488 comments Yeah, little tomboy, Scout! All these older women trying to tell her she should be wearing a dress and camisole!! And how she is going to marry Dill --- sweet!


message 20: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Diane D. wrote: "Yeah, little tomboy, Scout! All these older women trying to tell her she should be wearing a dress and camisole!! And how she is going to marry Dill --- sweet!"

And the add a pearl necklace. ;-)

And, then Dill turns out to be Truman Capote, a gay man. What a story.


Diane D. | 488 comments Oh really? I did not remember that from the movie. But that makes sense! Harper Lee and Truman Capote were best friends! I have to click on the links you have posted before about the story. Is Scout based on Harper Lee?


message 22: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Harper Lee did acknowledge Dill was based on Truman Capote. I think that's the only character she's ever said was based on somebody. But, when you read her story, and I recently read Scout, Atticus, and Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird, a book of essays by people who had something to say about TKAM, including people who know or knew Harper Lee, including her oldest sister, anyway, when you read the background, I can see some relationship between her father and Atticus and Scout and herself. But it is a novel.


message 23: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Diane D. wrote: "Oh really? I did not remember that from the movie. But that makes sense! Harper Lee and Truman Capote were best friends! I have to click on the links you have posted before about the story. Is Sco..."

Oh, and Dill is just shown as Dill in the movie, just as in the book. Truman Capote doesn't come into it in either of those formats.


Kathy  (readr4ever) | 1853 comments Lisa, thanks for opening up the thread and discussion. I plan on starting my reread either tomorrow or Sunday. Jeannette and Hayes, I hope your daughter and son do read it, too. My son was in middle school when we read it together, and it resulted in one of my favorite memories, where at the finish of the book, he said, "Wow, that was a great book!" Could a mom ask for anything better than a child loving a book she loves? I think not. Oh, and I think that there is plenty in the book which is universal in theme and timeless. I'm really excited about getting started on it.


message 25: by Sandi (last edited Jul 30, 2010 09:11PM) (new)

Sandi (Sandikal) I was probably around 9 years old when I first read To Kill a Mockingbird. My mom subscribed to the Readers Digest Condensed books and it was included in one of the volumes. As a third grader, I really identified with Scout and Atticus reminded me so much of my own father. (My father was very much like Atticus in his acceptance of all kinds of people and in his kind wisdom.) The whole idea of rape went right over my head, but I was outraged that the white people in Scout's community were willing to ignore all the evidence that indicated that Tom wasn't guilty. Atticus' bravery in standing up to the lynch mob really got to me. And, of course, the way Boo Radley befriended Scout and saved her was classic.

I've read it a few other times since I was a third grader. Each time, I've taken away something different. I gave a copy to my daughter when she was in 5th grade and it's her favorite novel as well. I haven't been able to get my son to read it though. I doubt he ever will unless it's a school assignment.


Diane D. | 488 comments Lisa wrote: "Harper Lee did acknowledge Dill was based on Truman Capote. I think that's the only character she's ever said was based on somebody. But, when you read her story, and I recently read ..."

Lisa, I just became a fan of Harper Lee ... thanks for the link!


message 27: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (last edited Jul 30, 2010 10:46PM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Diane D. wrote: "Lisa, I just became a fan of Harper Lee ... thanks for the link! "

Diane, You're welcome. I'm a fan too!

ETA: I fanned her even though I usually only become a fan if I've liked more than one book, but she wrote only the one book. It's a favorite book of mine though so I had to add her.


Diane D. | 488 comments How could you not be a fan of Harper Lee, right? :)


Kathy  (readr4ever) | 1853 comments One of the things I'm most enjoying about this thread is our memory sharing of moments and first readings of TKAM. Keep them coming!


Kathy  (readr4ever) | 1853 comments When I was teaching TKAM and we were watching the movie at the end of the study, there was a funny incident. We were at the point in the movie where Mayella screams at Atticus when she's on the stand, which is quite loud and dramatic. Another teacher from down the hall came and knocked on my door to make sure everything was okay. He thought that there was a fight going on. I assured him that there was only learning going on. LOL!


Diane D. | 488 comments Kathy, great story! I just read the part in the book where Calpurnia took Jem and Scout to her church. The innocence of the children is so touching.


message 32: by Hayes (last edited Jul 31, 2010 10:46AM) (new)

Hayes (Hayes13) Diane D. wrote: "Kathy, great story! I just read the part in the book where Calpurnia took Jem and Scout to her church. The innocence of the children is so touching."

That scene has been done again and again (The Help, The Secret Life of Bees, etc.) but it is just so powerful in TKAM. I don't think it will ever be surpassed.

I first read TKAM in 7th or 8th grade at school, and while I hated the kind of assignments we had to do, the summaries and the essays, I just loved the story.

Atticus is such a powerful character and I love the way he changes as the book goes along. He is not changing, it is Scout's perceptions that are changing.

I've read it 2 or 3 times since and look forward to reading it again. (I'll start next week some time.)


message 33: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
All of you talking about reading it for school or teaching it to kids, well it makes me so glad I saw the movie when it came out, with my parents at age 9, and that my mother had a copy of the paperback that I picked up at age 12. (the perfect book for me at the time) because I have to wonder if I'd have ever read the book otherwise. I never had to read it for school, nor was it ever suggested to me at school.


Diane D. | 488 comments Lisa, I never had to read the book for school either. My parents are not big readers, and yet I still have a passion for reading, including classics. So like me, I'm sure you would have been destined to read it too -- even though I am reading it late in life. I am very disappointed in my high school that there was not more focus on reading good literature. But I would have done Cliff Notes anyway.


message 35: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Okay. I finished my reread. I did forget 3 things so I'm glad I reread it. I did remember most of it, including many (sometimes long) passages by heart. I adore this book.


Diane D. | 488 comments What did you forget? :)


message 37: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (last edited Aug 01, 2010 09:02AM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Diane D. wrote: "What did you forget? :)"

Well, the main thing (*gasp* as I thought I remembered the whole book practically verbatim) is that I forgot that Aunt Alexandria actually came to live with them, not just visit.

I also forgot that Scout just accompanied Jem, but that she never actually read to Mrs. Dubose.

And, I forgot about Miss Maudie's 3 little cakes and then the two little cakes and the slice off the big cake she made Jem. I just remembered her making and giving the kids cake.

Everything else felt very, very, very familiar to me. And I can quote entire passages almost perfectly.


Diane D. | 488 comments Lisa,

I have read the first two things, not the third one yet. Last night (late!) I just finished the chapter were Atticus is staying at the jailhouse with Tom and Jem, Scout and Dill go down there and Scout (bless her!) keeps questioning one of the men in the crowd. I loved how Jem would NOT leave Atticus no matter how much he told him to go home. Very touching and scary.


message 39: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Whoops. Sorry Diane.

"Hey Mr. Cunningham..." Gosh I love this book!


message 40: by Kathy (last edited Aug 01, 2010 10:29AM) (new)

Kathy  (readr4ever) | 1853 comments I only just began my reread late (very late) last night, and within the first few pages, I was falling in love all over again. Lee's descriptive talents of people and place are so often endearing, giving me a little lift in my spirits. For example, when Scout is telling about Atticus' first case as a lawyer in Maycomb and is describing how stupid the Haverfords, whom he was defending, were, she says, "but they were Haverfords, in Maycomb County a name synonymous with jackass." And, in the first description we encounter of Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, she informs us that "Mrs. Dubose was plain hell."

I thought that I would just read through this book fast to hit the highlights. Now, I can see that I'm going to be stopping a lot to savor all these gems of writing. I think I need to buy more sticky tabs to mark new favorite spots.


Kathy  (readr4ever) | 1853 comments Lisa wrote: "Whoops. Sorry Diane.

"Hey Mr. Cunningham..." Gosh I love this book!"


It's hard to believe how such a simple statement is so magical, isn't it? How did Harper Lee write a whole book full of such wonder?


message 42: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "It's hard to believe how such a simple statement is so magical, isn't it? How did Harper Lee write a whole ..."

There are so many marvelous quotes!!! I have a couple in my favorite quotes. My favorite there is the one when Atticus says: "...The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."


Diane D. | 488 comments Lisa wrote: "Whoops. Sorry Diane.

"Hey Mr. Cunningham..." Gosh I love this book!"


Lisa no worries! I had to go out this afternoon, and now I have to go out AGAIN for a birthday dinner, and all I want to do is finish this. The trial is starting!


Diane D. | 488 comments Kathy wrote: "Lisa wrote: "Whoops. Sorry Diane.

"Hey Mr. Cunningham..." Gosh I love this book!"

It's hard to believe how such a simple statement is so magical, isn't it? How did Harper Lee write a whole ..."


And the fact that is is her only book too!


Diane D. | 488 comments I sure do love Atticus Finch! What a role model!


message 46: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Diane D. wrote: "I sure do love Atticus Finch! What a role model!"

Yes!!! Scout is a 100 for me and Atticus is too. I guess Scout slightly wins for me because it is her book. It's her voice. We learn about everyone via her. But, I wanted Atticus (and Gregory Peck ;-) ) for a father when I was a kid. Atticus is a wonderful father and a wonderful man.


Diane D. | 488 comments Lisa, I'm home! Back to the book! Goodnight!


message 48: by Hayes (last edited Aug 01, 2010 10:20PM) (new)

Hayes (Hayes13) I can't find my copy!! It will turn up sooner or later, but I am here in spirit and remembering all the good bits with all of you.

Loved the bit about Aunt Alexandra... she swoops in to create order for the family and femininity for Scout. But I think it's Miss Maudie who intrigues me the most (and who is a better role model for Scout).

Lisa, did the book you read about TKAM say if Miss Maudie was based on someone specific? She is just so real.


message 49: by Lisa, Co-Mod Comfort Reader Extraordinaire (last edited Aug 01, 2010 11:01PM) (new)

Lisa Vegan (LisaVegan) | 3784 comments Mod
Diane, Have fun!

Hayes, I love Miss Maudie too and agree with you about her as being good for Scout. I can't remember if it was said if she was based on any real person. I highly recommend the book though!!! But only if you are a real fan of TKAM. It is funny that everyone in Monroeville thought they or people they knew showed up as characters in the book. Monroeville is where Nelle Harper Lee grew up and the town Maycomb is definitely based on it. Dill is Truman Capote and Scout and Atticus have quite a bit of Lee and her father in them, but I'm not sure about anybody else. She did write what she knew though and I'm sure all the characters are based on a person or combination of people she'd actually known.


Hayes (Hayes13) I knew about the Dill-Capote link, and I think you're right that the characters are mixtures of people, not necessarily any one person. I will definitely put that book on TBR. Looks perfect for me!


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