Kat's Reviews > To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
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's review
Apr 22, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: borrowed-from-library, classics, book-to-film, read-in-2010

Harper Lee's modern American classic is an intriguing story about the innocence of youth and how the prejudice and ignorance of adults can threaten that innocence. To Kill a Mockingbird may be considered a court drama, but there's much more beneath the surface.

Atticus Finch (gotta love that name) is Maycomb County's top lawyer. With the help of his black housekeeper Calpurnia, Atticus raises his son Jem and daughter Scout. The two children live carefree lives, going to school, playing with the neighborhood kids and just being, well, kids. When their father is assigned as the defense lawyer for a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a white woman, the townspeople start to treat the Finches differently. It is through the course of the trial, and the events that follow the trial, that Scout's and Jem's characters really come into their own.

Scout is an inquisitive and observant little girl of eight years old. She's also very defensive of her father and brother. When people tease her about Atticus defending a black man, she pounds them. She always questions her father on why people behave the way they do, especially when it comes to social class and race. When she asks him why he’s defending a man who everyone thinks is guilty, Atticus explains that it’s important to stand up for what’s right and just — and he believes Tom to be innocent.

Jem is a boy growing into a young man, and while he initially believes in the innate goodness of people, the trial and its aftermath have caused him to lose faith. Whereas Scout continues to see that people can be good — in spite of their hypocritical tendencies — Jem's outlook on society is permanently changed.

Before reading this book, I always wondered what the title meant. As a kid, when I'd heard about this book, I thought it was about hunting (haha). But now I've come to realize that it's symbolic to the effects the evils of humankind can have on the innocent. As Miss Maudie tells Scout, to kill a mockingbird is a sin. Mockingbirds are innocent songbirds and do no harm. Tom Robinson's fate and the loss of Jem's innocence are examples of "killing a mockinbird."

I imagine this book was quite controversial when it was first published in 1960, in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement. Even today, there are still ignorance and hatred toward those who are different. I think To Kill a Mockingbird is as important a read today as it was fifty years ago. I’m glad I finally got around to reading one of America’s most widely read classics.


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

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Emma I can't beleive you've only just read this, Kat! I read it some time ago but think I need to know more about the historical/cultural context to fully appreciate it.

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