You'll love this one...!! A book club & more discussion

134 views
Group Themed Reads: Discussions > September Read: To Kill a Mockingbird ~ discussion lead by Henk

Comments Showing 1-26 of 26 (26 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Jenny, honorary mod - inactive (last edited Sep 08, 2009 09:46AM) (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments Henk will be leading the discussion on To Kill a Mockingbird in this thread. The lead discussion will generally contain spoilers. Be warned!


message 2: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments Woo-hoo! Since I can't get a copy of The Help to lead that discussion I may just re-read this awesome book while I wait :0)


message 3: by Jenny, honorary mod - inactive (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments This has been sat on my shelf for ages. I haven't read it since I had it rammed down my throat at school :P and have been meaning to pick it up again for a long time!


message 4: by Sam (new)

Sam (ecowitch) | 2182 comments Jenny, I had the same thing when I was in school and when I re-read it I was amazed. I couldn't believe how much more I enjoyed it, it was bizarre but well worth it :-)


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I reread the book for this topic and, like you, Sam was amazed at it. The story was brilliant and, even though I knew how it ended, I couldn't stop reading it until I finished it.

However, it did seem a bit stereotyped - the poor, illiterate White family, Calpurnia - the cook with the heart of gold and Judge Taylor - the wise, thoughtful judge.

Perhaps it is just because it is seen through the yes of a child.


message 6: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments Hmmm. I never thought of any characters as stereotyped. During the time period of the story there was lots of poverty in the South.

I'm not sure if the author truly had a kindly cook growing up but I do know that her mother was ill most of her life so perhaps she created a character to fit what she would have wanted for herself as a child?

I figured most judges were kind and thoughtful - her father was an attorney so she probably knew a few over the years.

What gets me each time is how blind the adults are to the rights and wrongs in society which Scout and the other children see without any trouble. The sweetness of innocence - seeing the good in people and questioning why they behave other than the way children expect.

A lot of people focus on Scout and others even more on Atticus, but I think a strong part of the story is Jem's coming of age and his changing relationships. It is really Scout narrating Jem's story in a lot of ways.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I think that the author makes the Ewell's nasty to put across a particular point though. She has Burris being nasty to Miss Caroline; the rest of the children are lazy and are content to live on welfare and the father is totally and utterly unpleasant. Mayella seems, at first, different from the rest of the family as she cleans herself and plants flowers but, in the trial, it is her outburst that shows she belongs to the Ewell family.

While poverty in the 30's in the American South must have been extremely grim, would it have produced a family where all of them are so unpleasant/ nasty?

I can't remember which character says it but there is a speech about the children growing up and losing their innocence; is it the man who lives with his wife and coloured children?


message 8: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments Oh sure - absolutely - Harper created the Ewell family to make her point. But I don't think it was all that far fetched. Bob was especially evil and emblematic of ignorance that the South gets slammed with to this day. Poverty didn't help that family any, but he used it as an excuse to feel wronged by what he felt was due as a white man. His racism was there regardless of income. And when you grow up in a family whose supposed head is such an ass, it is an uphill battle to come out better off.

I think that's why this book resonates with so many - because it has one foot firmly in fact yet is filled with such hope and good from Atticus - the anti-Ewell. It exposed this ugliness mainstream through a child's eye during the beginnings of the Civil Rights era and made it difficult to ignore. (Was it the Rev. Sykes who made that speech you mention? I don't recall that passage.)

My mother, who grew up in the South, said that if her mother had known that the movie wasn't about someone hurting a poor bird but rather commentary on intolerance and racism in the South she never would have been allowed to go see the movie - not good wholesome things for teenage eyes to see. Keep sweeping it under the rug rather than making a change. The gap between those generations was broad. Thankfully it has narrowed with each one. But I still meet people every now and then who make me wonder if they weren't related to the Ewells.


message 9: by Jo (new)

Jo (Jo_Wales) | 62 comments I'm a bit behind with my read for this month but I shall be joining in the discussion shortly. I'm too old to have read this in school - mine was 'Three Men in a Boat' and an awfully boring one by Winston Churchill which I can't remember the name of (more likely, I've chosen to blot it out of my mind!) but I do remember Jenny, our moderator, moaning about having to read this one - interesting to hear your comments second time around!


message 10: by Sam (new)

Sam (ecowitch) | 2182 comments I've never thought of the characters as sterotyped either although it's probably partly due to the fact that during the school discussions on the book it was taken that the characters represented the norm of the time. I suppose in retrospect they could be construed as sterotyped but I'm not convinced that is the case or the intention.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

The speech is by Mr Raymond Dolphus where he says that Dill is too young to hide his reaction to the 'hell that white people give coloured folks'. It is the start of chapter 20.

Perhaps stereotypes was the wrong word, caricatures maybe a better word. It is that the Ewells are all bad and Calpurnia, Miss Maudie and Atticus are too good.

The character that stands out for me is Miss Dubose as she is a mixture of good (her determination to die free of any encumberance) and bad (her support of the Southern way of life).

At this point I should say that I live in England and never had to read this as a set text for school. So it is talking about a way of life that I am not familiar with.


message 12: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments Henk wrote: "At this point I should say that I live in England and never had to read this as a set text for school. So it is talking about a way of life that I am not familiar with..."

I didn't have to read it for school either - though it seems a lot of people did. I grew up watching the movie many times and didn't read the book until I was an adult. It isn't a way of life I'm familiar with - my parents made great efforts to make sure my brother and I grew up in an environment different than they did. But I think to feel that the author created the characters and made them too good or too bad is incorrect. I think she wrote of the reality around her. Though she probably did consolidate the personalities of multiple people to serve her artistic points. But in general, I wish the world had more Atticus - it was far easier to just go along with the Ewells.

I totally do not remember that speech. I am going to go back and do some re-reading this weekend - it is a holiday one for us so I'll have some extra time. Thank you so much for nominating this book. I love having others to discuss it with! That said, I'll shut up about it and let everyone else chime in :0)






message 13: by Molly (new)

Molly | 270 comments I just wanted to mention that upon beginning this month's other selection - The Help - last night I was struck by the fact that it takes place in deep south, 1962 - which happens to be the year the TKAM movie was released.

So it is interesting to me to read a story showing how segregated things were in American society when TKAM, a story very critical of intolerance and racism, became a best selling book and movie garnering several Oscars.


message 14: by Jenny, honorary mod - inactive (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments I've just started re-reading it!! It's funny how reading a book at school can make you think that it's been ruined for you. It was a long time ago and although I remember the main story it's like reading a new book again!! I'm loving it!!


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

When I reread this book the chapter involving the attempting lynching really grabbed my attention. The mixture of humour and tension with the lynching mob having a whispered conversation with Atticus and Scout blithely talking to Mr. Cunningham about his entailment while Atticus looks on open-mouthed.


message 16: by Emma (new)

Emma | 80 comments I loved this book, one of the most touching things I've read in many years. That said, I would place it firmly as teenage fiction for the slightly stereotypical characters and somewhat for the message. I can see why this is standard reading in US schools.


message 17: by Jenny, honorary mod - inactive (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments I completely forgot about Tim Johnson the rabid dog! I remember that part making me sad when I was 15 :(


message 18: by Kipahni (new)

Kipahni | 144 comments Henk wrote: "The speech is by Mr Raymond Dolphus where he says that Dill is too young to hide his reaction to the 'hell that white people give coloured folks'. It is the start of chapter 20.

Perhaps stereoty..."


You mention that Atticus seems too good vs ewell being all bad. But what if because we are seeing the story through scouts eyes that is how she sees the world. Even when I was a child I remember things being more black and white- my sister and I even had a game of it where we would smile when we looked at "good people" and frown at the "bad people" perhaps scout just lived in a more dichotomy like world (which much of the south in my experience was like that)




message 19: by Jenny, honorary mod - inactive (new)

Jenny (notestothemoon) | 846 comments I hadn't thought of that! I think you are probably right. Maybe if the book had been written through Jem's eyes it would have been slighlty less black and white.


message 20: by [deleted user] (new)

But isn't it written through Scout's eyes as it is semi-autobiographical novel. I don't remember whether I read that somewhere or have come to believe as the book seems so real and vivid.

Does anyone know whether it is autobiographical?


message 21: by Molly (last edited Sep 14, 2009 08:08AM) (new)

Molly | 270 comments Henk wrote: "But isn't it written through Scout's eyes as it is semi-autobiographical novel. I don't remember whether I read that somewhere or have come to believe as the book seems so real and vivid.

Does a..."


My understanding is that much of Lee's own life growing up inspired characters and pieces of the story. The character of Dill for example is based upon Truman Capote who was her childhood friend. In her bio on Wiki, etc. you will see several parallels to her childhood and the book.



message 22: by Charmian (new)

Charmian (clo1) | 26 comments I haven't started reading this yet but I have finished Scottsbro by Ellen Feldman which is brilliant and on the same theme of race.


message 23: by Kipahni (new)

Kipahni | 144 comments Henk wrote: "But isn't it written through Scout's eyes as it is semi-autobiographical novel. I don't remember whether I read that somewhere or have come to believe as the book seems so real and vivid.

Does a..."


In "Mockingbird" a sort of biography on Harper Lee, The author says that there are characters in the book tkam that are based on real life (as mentioned with truman capote being dill) and even the town's setting is similiar to her childhood.





Kat (A Journey In Reading) (ajourneyinreading) I read this when I was in high school and fell in love with it. I have also watched the movie many times. I too believe that since it was written from Scout's eyes, that the view in the book is how she saw the world.

The book is so true to what the south was in those times. I live in Alabama, and to this day, there are still people that I see that live in the "old south ideals".

There is a town (that the book was based on) here that does a skit re-enactment every year of the courthouse scene in the book/movie. It is an amazing thing to watch.


message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

This book I read in high school, and I would rate it 4/5 stars.

I found the writing lovely, the story compelling, and the characters extremely well-done. I would definitely read more books by Harper Lee!


Maggie the Muskoka Library Mouse (mcurry1990) This is one I need to revisit. I read it years ago, and liked it well enough to buy a copy for my own shelf. I would like to read it again now that I am an adult, and see if it's as good as I remember.


back to top

1225

You'll love this one...!! A book club & more

unread topics | mark unread


Books mentioned in this topic

To Kill a Mockingbird (other topics)