Denise's Reviews > To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
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's review
Dec 05, 2007

it was amazing
bookshelves: books-i-love-so-much-i-bought, classics, made-into-movie, bookgroup
Recommended to Denise by: Bookgroup
Recommended for: Everyone
Read in December, 2004

** spoiler alert ** I looked up Harper Lee online this is her only published book. However, she did write a few articles that one can find and read online:
Love in other Words - Vogue
Christmas to me - McCalls
When Children Discover America
Romance and High Adventure

Her full name is Nellie Harper Lee - I bet she dropped the Nellie part so publishers would mistakenly think she was a man and read her material. She is also still alive and living in Monroeville, Alabama. And once you read about her and her family, you will know that she is not the only amazing person in that family (guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree).

I was able to tell in the beginning that the book started in the 30's once Dill mentioned that he saw Dracula in the theaters. Dracula was in theaters in 1931-32 (don't ask how I know that), and they mentioned that they were in the Depression which started in 1929 (1927-28 for the farmers) and went on through out the 30's. Since they were openly drinking, Prohibition must have ended (1933). And, towards the end of the book, they were mentioning Hitler and what he was doing in Germany which took place in the late 30's. My history teachers would be so impressed that I retained all of that information. Too bad my head is so full of that information, I have to look up my own phone number.

I loved Scout. In fact, I get dibs on that name for a little girl- or did Bruce Willis and Demi Moore beat me to it? I loved that she wanted to be a person first and then a girl. And she supports the fact that little kids know the meaning of life and forget it as they get older. She had a great relationship with her brother and father and they encouraged her to be true to herself and not follow the stereotypes of ladies of that time. I loved her way of thinking especially how she drew the conclusion that if she starting swearing her dad would assume she picked up the bad habits from school and pull her out. And when she wanted to write a letter to Dill in invisible ink just to drive him crazy, I almost ruined the book because I was drinking a Diet Pepsi at the time.

I have a feeling that Harper Lee was just like Scout and have you noticed that all early 1900 female authors are tomboys? Louisa Mae Alcott was Jo in Little Women, Laura Wilder wrote about herself. It just goes to show you that the truly creative women were those that went against the stereotypes of the time.

I'm not sure I like the fact that Atticus allowed them to call him by his first name and not Dad, but aside from that he was the perfect role model. He talked to them, not at them, and he always listened. He firmly believed that it was important for his children to respect him and by NOT following the creed "Do as I say, not as I do", Scout and Jem would be able to look up to him. He wanted his children to look beyond the color of one's skin, therefore he did. He treated everyone as equal despite their race, family background, age or education and if more people did that, there wouldn't be as many problems today. His teaching methods worked. You can tell how much the children loved and looked up to him. Nothing hurt them more then having their father be ashamed of them. They didn't keep things from him because they thought he wouldn't understand. They kept things from him because they didn't want him to get hurt. And they always listened, because to disobey would hurt Atticus.

Atticus's brother was another one of my favorite characters even though he wasn't mentioned a lot. When he realized his error after punishing Scout for beating up her cousin and tried to make it right, it showed that he also strived to earn their respect just like Atticus. Nothing irates me more then when someone tells me I have to respect them because they are older than me. Whatever. Does that mean I have to respect Bob Ewall because he is older?

It's easy to see with all of the problems in the world why Boo Radley feels safer hiding from away from it. It takes a special person to admit defeat to the cliché "if you can't beat them join them" and turn his back on things he doesn't understand. I think everyone has a little bit of Boo in us, when we shut out the problems of the outside. Of course, we all have a little of Scout in us to especially when I come out fighting if anyone tries to hurt my family.

The court case. Wow, the sad thing is, is I can see that happening even today (i.e. the Rodney King trial). When I moved here the first time, just before the LA riots, there was a huge ordeal about a Korean, store-owner who shot and killed a 17-19 black, teenager girl, she claimed was stealing and attacking her. The security camera shows the tiff and it shows the teen putting down the item and walking towards the exit. The store owner shot her in the back and was found not-guilty, by reason of self-defense. When the book was published in 1960, discrimination was still a big problem. I did like how Harper Lee brought up Hitler's actions against the Jews. It was obvious that what was going on in America with African Americans was no different in her eyes than what Hitler was doing. I agree, we were just more discreet about it. Perhaps because deep inside, Americans knew it was wrong to treat African Americans as third class citizens so we tried to hide it more. Hitler was right out in the open with his actions.

I listed a few links that I discovered about To Kill A Mocking Bird: The Student Survivor Guide. - This is amazing it has definitions of the harder words and references to the "Allusions and Idioms" that are used. - This talks more about the author and her family.
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Comments (showing 1-29)

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Jessica her name is nelle harper lee -- she dropped the nelle when she wrote mockingbird because she didn't want anyone to misprounce it and say "nellie" instead of "nelle."


Leslie Denise, I really like your review too. Like Yareader2, I just read the book as an adult - though I read it once in high school, I think I didn't appreciate it fully then. Interestingly enough, what I think I didn't appreciate fully was not the adult stuff, but the kid stuff. The more I start growing away from my own childhood (I'm only 26, but that's already a good stint in adult life) the more amazed I am by writers who can still so sharply remember what it was like to be a kid. Thanks for your very honest review and I hope you find more books that move you to write.

Denise Thank you for the information. Not sure where I got Nellie from but I guess she was right in her assumption. I still like my theory better ;)

message 26: by Sheila (last edited Jul 16, 2008 01:02PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sheila There is a book about her life, My Name is Scout, that provides more information and insight to the person, Harper Lee, her relationships. It's a fascinating read.

message 25: by Denise (last edited Jul 16, 2008 02:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Denise Thank you, I'm going to add that book under my to be read list.

I just looked it up, It's call I Am Scout ;)

Sheila You're right! I was relying on my memory, which is not always a good idea at my age. Anyway, it's a wonderful book and I'm glad you'll be reading it.

message 23: by Katy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Katy Interesting. Although I thought Atticus could have been more caring toward the kids...he didn't even bother to walk Scout to the first day of school or her pageant. He didn't even attend the pageant because he was tired. Plus, it is repeatedly mentioned that he reads a newspaper and leaves Jem and Scout to their own devices.

message 22: by Kat (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kat Hey, if I started a Group to discus this book, do you think anyonewould join?

Denise sure. the problem would be to let everyone know that the group exists and to keep it active while different people read it at different times.

Emily Polhamus There's also a great book about her life called "Mockingbird" you should check out. It's very good.

Emily Polhamus AND forgot to mention, just an interesting fact. The character of Dill is based on Truman Capote who was a childhood friend of Harper Lee!

Denise Thanks Emily, I'm going to add Mockingbird to the list

Deguet Dwayne Carter jr. rockstar bayiB oh my gosh i love thisss booook it was sooo coool and i love chapter 15 the part where when atticus tucks scout in bed waouuuuuuuuuu it was kiooooolllll
OHHHHHHH i can't believe this..................... OHHHHHHHH LA LA

Cindy I figured Atticus allowed for his children to call him by his first name because he wanted them to see that he saw them as equals and not as pesky little kids. I was unsure of how to take that either but I went with it because imagining Scout saying, "Atticus!" was just too cute for me.

message 15: by Lisa (last edited Jun 09, 2010 02:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Newton-Smart I believe in many ways the fact that the children called Atticus by his first name represents the respect he had for them and vice versa. I do not believe it ever says that he required them to call him "Atticus." While Atticus is a nurturing loving father, he also is a prominent member of the community. I believe Scout and Jem recognize Atticus' importance as a lawyer, especially in the upcoming trial. I believe that in many ways the children recognize and absolutely respect the man that Atticus is as their father and as the lawyer in the community. They recogize his humility - this especially is a profound moment for Jem in the novel - when Atticus shots the dog and Jem finds out that Atticus was considered the best shot in the county. Jem comments that he is impressed by his father's skill but even more so by his father's humility and that he has never once bragged about this. Atticus, with the help of Calpurnia, must take on the role of father and mother. This must be quite a task. I do believe it also mentions at the beginning of the book that Atticus is older as a parent. I think in a perfect world Atticus could just be "Dad" - "Father" to his kids, but during this tumultuous period - he wanted the kids to understand the world was not always a perfect place - "good" did not always win out over evil. I think it is a lesson that Scout is able to embrace even more than Jem after the trial. Jem withdraws into himself and seems to be having a much more difficult time with the outcome. I have often wondered if Jem is a bit more emotional and at times withdrawn into himself because he remembers their mother and her subsequent death. Scout on the other hand does not remember their mother - only through what Jem tells her. Jem was old enough to truly experience and feel this loss intensely. Just a few of my thoughts on the relationship between Atticus and the kids. I teach this book in my literature classes and never tire of reading it. I have truly enjoyed reading everyone's reviews!

message 14: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Newton-Smart To any of you that would like to read more about Harper Lee there is a book that was published in 2006 called:

Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee
by Charles J. Shields

It is also a great reference on the life of Harper Lee, as well as the book and characters. I especially enjoyed the first chapter describing Harper Lee living in New York and walking through a blizzard to visit her publisher. I won't spoil it but it is a great addition to the novel and gives some great reference information.

message 13: by Arte (new) - rated it 2 stars

Arte Well, it worked, 'cause I thought she was a man >o<

Maatii Thanks for your review I have to read this for high school and now I understand it a little bit better

message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 5 stars

Lisa Newton-Smart Maatii: Did you finish reading the book for high school? Would be interested to know your thoughts!

Maatii Lisa: Yes I actually finished it today I just realized I'm like Scout because I don't fit in with girls my age and I act more like a boy than a young lady my aunt did live with me at one point in my life, my family has always tried to turn me into a lady but I always rebel a bit

Lisa Newton-Smart Of all the literature books I teach in my college classes, I believe Scout is my favorite character of all time. When Jem becomes disillusioned, Scout still sees hope. When even Atticus becomes discouraged, Scout still seems to find a silver lining in the darkest of situations. Scout was a tomboy but it doesn't matter if she wore dresses or overalls, jeans, or ...she has the biggest heart and exhibits great moral character - unparallelled in my opinion. I too could relate to Scout's character as a child. I am so glad you liked the book and were willing to share your thoughts!

Fane Davis interesting review.i hope i will definitely found all that out later after i finish reading the novel.

message 7: by Noa (new) - rated it 3 stars

Noa I agree with you all the way. Just a little note I couldn't resist writing down. You don't respect people who are older than you because they are older. You respect them because older people have more experience than you. So you should just keep in mind that older people are more experienced.

message 6: by Dm (new)

Dm I have long considered Atticus Finch to be one of the truly great heroes of American literature. I love this book - the story, the style, the characters.

Lisa Newton-Smart I could not agree more! I still teach this book to my college English classes and you cannot find a better man than Atticus Finch. The book is one I read again and again and again and love everytime just a bit more!

message 4: by Zhanitah (new) - added it

Zhanitah I like that

Corie Bocian I disagree completely

Epicallyagirl I loved Dill. Such a hilarious character!

Taya Iv "Too bad my head is so full of that information, I have to look up my own phone number." I almost choked on my water when I read that part. This is a brilliant review!

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