Rebecca's Reviews > To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
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Apr 07, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: adult-fiction
Read 2 times. Last read January 1, 1990.

(Originally read: 1990)

(This reading: August 2012)

To Kill a Mockingbird is a wonderful novel to return to. We read this aloud as a family in preparation to see it performed on stage and I loved studying my children (ages 13 and 10) as the novel progressed. They were both thoroughly engrossed and (with some minor explanations) followed it well and were touched.

When thinking of this book, I tend to ask myself, "What is this story about?" Is it about civil rights? Or the fairness of our judicial system? Is it a cautionary tale of prejudging others...or about the loss of innocence? With a host of memorable characters, each of these themes could be addressed.

Yes, the major story is the trial of Tom Robinson, but my favorite part is the sub-story of Jem and Mrs. Dubose:

"She's dead, son," said Atticus. "She died a few minutes ago."
"Oh," said Jem. "Well."
"Well is right," said Atticus. "She's not suffering any more. She was sick for a long time. Son, didn't you know what her fits were?"
Jem shook his head.
"Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict," said Atticus. "She took it as a pain-killer for years. The doctor put her on it. She'd have spent the rest of her life on it and died without so much agony, but she was too contrary--"
"Sir?" said Jem.
Atticus said, "Just before your escapade she called me to make her will. Dr. Reynolds told her she had only a few months left. Her business affairs were in perfect order but she said, "There's still one thing out of order.'"
"What was that?" Jem was perplexed.
"She said she was going to leave this world beholden to nothing and nobody. Jem, when you're sick as she was, it's all right to take anything to make it easier, but it wasn't all right for her. She said she meant to break herself of it before she died, and that's what she did."
Jem said, "You mean that's what her fits were?"
"Yes, that's what they were. Most of the time you were reading to her I doubt if she heard a word you said. Her whole mind and body were concentrated on that alarm clock. If you hadn't fallen into her hands, I'd have made you go read to her anyway. It may have been some distraction..."
"Did she die free?" asked Jem.
"As the mountain air," said Atticus. "She was conscious to the last, almost. Conscious," he smiled, "and cantankerous.
... You know, she was a great lady."
"A lady?" Jem raised his head. His face was scarlet. "After all those things she said about you, a lady?"
"She was. She had her own views about things, a lot different from mine, maybe ...son, I told you that if you hadn't lost your head I'd have made you go read to her. I wanted you to see something about her --I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Kari (new)

Kari I've read this book a whole bunch of times, though it has been a couple of years. Seeing it at Shakespeare, I'd forgotten that Jem had to go over and read to Mrs. Debose. Reading your review now, after having done some recent and work around addiction, I read this with new eyes and further appreciation for why I consistently give this title as my favorite book of all time.


Rebecca As David was reading this section, he choked back a few tears. I think this portion can speak to all of us... Who among us doesn't have some addiction to fight..and don't we all want others to love us despite our cantankerousness? I know I do. :). Because it was so fresh, we noticed the many things they were unable to portray in the play... But I wish this scene wasn't one of them. (Still, it was excellent. I was fine until the curtain call when a rush of emotion came over me and I fought back the tears. Glad you and I could share this experience!)


message 3: by Kari (new)

Kari One of the things I really liked about the play was the presence of Jean Louise Finch on stage, not just in voice over. She was fantastic. My mom also really appreciated the medium--while she, too, loves the movie and book, she felt that the immediacy of the nature of theater (without the presence of the movie screen) gave it a really fantastic quality.

I love what you way about the fact that we all have an addiction to fight, and we all want to be loved because of our imperfections, not just in spite of them.


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