RAM Readers Spring 2020 discussion

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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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message 1: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (drld) | 24 comments Mod
Did you realize this is the only book Harper Lee ever published?


message 2: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments • I do not know this is the only book Harper Lee ever published. I have been hearing about the book for years. It also marks in my reading list. For some reason, I did not get a chance to pick it up and read it on. Maybe the tile of this book misled me to a sharply different direction. Finally, I discovered this marvelous novel and liked it so much. I found myself immersed into the plots. My roommate told me that my face looked so serious during reading and she asked is everything going all right with me. It was funny and I felt regret not to read this book when I was much younger.

• A first-grade girl Jean Louise Finch (Scout) lost her mother, and she addresses her older brother and father all by their first names, which are Jem and Atticus. I will say this is a huge cultural difference because I have never called my dad his name. On the first day of school, the teacher Miss Caroline finds out that Jean can read. She does not encourage her or praise her. Instead, she tells Jean that you should tell your father stop teaching you. I do not have a good first impression to this young teacher. Partly because she does not believe her students and let them stand in the corner, partly because she lacks patience. Later on, I understand that it is hard for a newcomer to learn all Maycomb’s ways in one day. I realize that I also judge characters in the novel too fast sometimes.

• What is the southern style about this story? For one thing, the colloquium like “yonder” for over there, and “reckon” for think are used often. For anther, it reminds me how far America has come along in terms of different races being able to live together, peacefully. By the plots in the book, the author would like to appeal readers to think deeply about the racial discrimination and the importance of adolescent development. She also conveys her concerns about the nation and human being from the opinion of Atticus in the book for several times.

• Let us talk about the name of the book once more, To Kill a Mockingbird. I felt confused when I first read the title. However, I realize it is a metaphor through reading. “Mockingbird” is to express that it is a sin to hurt the kind and innocent people. Tom Robinson and Arthour Radley are two tipical mockingbirds, which stimulates people’s thinking. In the process of reading, people will feel relaxed and see what the complex adult world looks like in a child’s perspective. Maycomb is just a small town, but it is just like a mirror to reflect the whole society. Atticus is a wonderful father. I like the way he brings up his children. He makes sure to have conversation with them and teaches them to behave well.


message 3: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments I truly enjoyed reading To Kill a Mockingbird. It was similar to The Grapes of Wrath in that it depicted life in the South, and the language/dialogue were a good representation of those times. I prefer To Kill a Mockingbird only because the pace was much faster, the plot was more interesting (with the trial), and it was told from a child's perspective, so there was an innocent, candidness to it.

I am not surprised that Harper Lee only wrote one book, but if you're only going to write one book, To Kill a Mockingbird is a darn good one to be known for! I say I'm not surprised because this book is one of the top books on the banned book lists. Ever since it was published, concerned parents and activists have been trying to rip this book from the shelves of schools and libraries--mostly because of the frequent use of the 'n' word. Although it might make the reader feel uncomfortable, this book is a true representation of the racist, and oppressive views that permeated the South. To shield our students from this would be to deny that these issues existed. We cannot change the future if we do not acknowledge the past.

As the author of such a controversial book, I'm sure it took a toll on Harper Lee. Her honest reflections of her own upbringing were being called into question, and I imagine her constant defense of her own novel was not worth the risk of writing again. It is said that Harper Lee hated being in the spotlight, and was an extremely private person. To be thrust into the controversy might have been too much to handle.

I do know that a few years ago, another Harper Lee novel was published: Go Set a Watchman. I remember the anticipation of this novel, as it was widely believed that the Watchman novel was merely a myth. It was released, but almost immediately panned. People were expecting greatness, as it was coming from the pen of Harper Lee. But, there was a reason why it was not previously published; it was later found to be just an alternate draft of To Kill a Mockingbird. By the time it was published, Harper Lee was dying, and there is speculation that she resisted Watchman being published in the first place. I don't think she ever wanted Go Set a Watchman to see the light of day. To Kill a Mockingbird was her swan song, and it was beautiful.


message 4: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Natalie wrote: "I truly enjoyed reading To Kill a Mockingbird. It was similar to The Grapes of Wrath in that it depicted life in the South, and the language/dialogue were a good representation of those times. I pr..."

Hey Natalie,

"We cannot change the future if we do not acknowledge the past." Well said! I enjoy reading your initial posts every time. You have a very sharp perspective of different books! I also like To Kill a Mockingbird that is a wonderful book. As you mentioned that the "n" world is frequently used, that must be the reason why the book is so controversial. I did not bring up in a community which has the racial problem, but I can imagine how hard it is.

Yao


message 5: by Jackie (new)

Jackie Olalde | 44 comments To Kill a Mockingbird

I was surprised to learn that this was Harper Lee's only published novel. I was excited to see this on our reading list. I don't remember reading much of the classic novel throughout high school, so unless some, I haven't read many of the classics. With that being said, I did enjoy this one.

The story is told from Scout's perspective or point of view, so there is something to be said about the observations she has throughout the story. I think it is interesting since we know how blunt children can be. In the discussion of our chapter, we mentioned how we could focus on a literature study on perspectives. I've been thinking about how the story would have been different if it was told from the perspective of another character.

I think that there is some controversial language in the book, which was very typical of the time, especially considering the setting was in the South. I understand why this book is on the banned book list. I think that there is something to learn from reading the book if someone chooses to read it on their own.


message 6: by Yao (new)

Yao Chen | 49 comments Jackie wrote: "To Kill a Mockingbird

I was surprised to learn that this was Harper Lee's only published novel. I was excited to see this on our reading list. I don't remember reading much of the classic novel t..."


Hi Jackie,

I like your though about what would be looking like if this story was told by another character like Scout's brother. It is a very interesting idea. I also agree with you on the reading meaning you have mentioned in the end. In Chinese, we have a proverb goes, "Reading is a rewarding experience." Indeed, reading enriches people's minds.

Yao


message 7: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments In fact, I didn't know that this novel was the only one published by Harper Lee, but I wish she had written more books like that. I really like the way Lee describes how Scout´s father raised his children, teaching them to respect people the way they are and without prejudice. It was unusual at a time when injustice and racism prevailed.
While reading, I wondered how terrible racism is and how brave the lawyer Atticus Finch (Scout's father) defends a black man who was falsely accused of raping a white woman in a small Alabama town during the Depression-era . At the end of the novel, Tom Robinson (the black man) is murdered while trying to escape from prison. After this event, it seems that Scout has lost his innocence and begins to understand the racial issue around her.
Although friends and family criticized Atticus for defending a black man, he did what he thought was right, and Scout and his brother Jem learn a lot from him. I also appreciate the way Scout is presented. She is very intelligent for her age and always expresses her opinions directly. It makes me think of my childhood, because, like Scout, I lost my mother when I was two, and my father and my sisters raised me. The funny thing is that when I heard my sisters saying something that I thought was a lie, I denied it in front of everyone.


message 8: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Harper Lee became famous with “ to kill a mockingbird”. It won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and has become a classic of modern American literature. It was voted as the “Best Novel of the 20th Century” by readers of the Library Journal. It is placed in the fifth position on the list of Modern Library’s Readers List of the 100 Best Novels in the English language since 1900. She also wrote the novel Go Set a Watchman in the mid-1950s and published it in July 2015 as a sequel to Mockingbird, but it was later confirmed to be merely her first draft of Mockingbird.
One of the lesson of the “to kill a mockingbird” is “ something is not the same as what you can see and hear”. Boo Radley live alone in a house and he never go out when the sun is shining. From what they hear and what they see. The children make up story again about him, but they don’t known that he is a good person. He always behinds them and help, gives them presents.
And the way people look at the black people at that time, they don’t have the right permission like Tom Robinson in the story. It reminds me a famous person in America that is Martin Luther King, Jr. I didn’t know about him before came here. I find out information from the internet to know more. I admire what he did to destroy racialism.


message 9: by ThaoTam (new)

ThaoTam  Nguyen  | 46 comments Yao wrote: "• I do not know this is the only book Harper Lee ever published. I have been hearing about the book for years. It also marks in my reading list. For some reason, I did not get a chance to pick it u..."

Hi Yao!
I agree with your ideal in the last part. What we see and hear, are not the truth sometimes. So don't think a person is good or bad because of outside. We should combine what we see , what we hear and what we feel. and the way from heart to heart is the best ever


message 10: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments ThaoTam wrote: "One of the lesson of the “to kill a mockingbird” is “ something is not the same as what you can see and hear”. Boo Radley live alone in a house and he never go out......

Hi Thao,
I agree with you that it is not wise to judge people considering what we see or even by their appearance. I really like the part where Atticus tells his children that to get to know and understand someone, we must put ourselves in their place. I mean “to walk in somebody´s shoes.”



message 11: by Diana (new)

Diana | 31 comments I didn't realize that this was the ONLY novel that Harper Lee wrote. I was quite surprised because of the number of copies sold, translated into different languages, and a movie. I'm somewhat confused about why Lee wouldn't continue to write. This book was written in the 1960s at this time women were fighting for the opportunity and respect.
Atticus as the father raised Scout but I believe that two women had a bigger impact on her upbringing and image. In the book, Scout doest have a mother so she relies on two strong women figures she interacts daily with, Calurina and Maudie.
Calpurnia supports Scout's independents by teaching her how to write and race, class, and gender roles. Calpurnia may just be the housekeeper but Scout sees pass her title and views a person.
Maudie helps boost Scout's confidence, by teaching her being the bigger person can be done by simply saying nothing at all also by breaking away from the stereotypes.


message 12: by Bruna (new)

Bruna Alcaraz | 41 comments Since the beginning of the book, I couldn’t understand why the name to Kill a mockingbird, was a question on my mind. Mocking is a pretty bird and the analogy is to kill the innocence of the people. That expression is very memorable during all passages in the book. Finch is a lawyer that encourages his family to have empathized with the people doesn’t matter the status or financial situation. This book brought to my life more than I can explain, how racism and prejudice still present in our society. This book can be used in the actual scenario, students can discuss all the topics of this book and they will have a large idea about what is RACISM, how racism still impacting our neighbor, friends, and family. Prejudice is input in our vessel, sometimes we easily don’t like the people because their clothes are different from them ours. My neighbor doesn’t like me because of my accent. I am an immigrant and I am feeling the discomfort of some people. Our society never looks at each other with eyes of justice, we look at each other with eyes of prejudice.
I was surprised when I read about Harper Lee published just ONE book, but clearly, we can see and understand the success of this book. I am so glad to see how children are innocente and in their eyes everybody is the same!


message 13: by Lourdes (new)

Lourdes A. | 49 comments Bruna wrote: "I am an immigrant and I am feeling the discomfort of some people. Our society never looks at each other with eyes of justice, we look at each other with eyes of prejudice"

Hey Bruna,
I go along with you. I feel the same way regarding “to be an immigrant.”
Unfortunately, it is not everyone who welcomes us. I have been noticed that nowadays, we still have all kinds of prejudices. Do you know what? This course is helping me to deal and understand those people, and do not care about what they say or their reaction towards me. I have learned to focus on my goal and do my best in everything that I do.



message 14: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Jackie wrote: "To Kill a Mockingbird

I was surprised to learn that this was Harper Lee's only published novel. I was excited to see this on our reading list. I don't remember reading much of the classic novel t..."


Jackie: Your thought about how this novel could be different if told from the other characters' perspectives is a really great idea. This could be a fun assignment for the upper-level students. Jem, Atticus, and even Calpurnia were all complex characters. Each one had characteristics, and ways of being that Scout never fully understood; so, getting their perspective would be fascinating, and beneficial. This is a perfect opportunity to introduce character point-of-view.


message 15: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Thomas | 46 comments Diana wrote: "I didn't realize that this was the ONLY novel that Harper Lee wrote. I was quite surprised because of the number of copies sold, translated into different languages, and a movie. I'm somewhat confu..."

Diana: You're right; the novel was written during a time when women were becoming more liberated, and finding their voice. Unfortunately, the world wasn't quite ready for the themes and language of this novel. It has consistently been on the banned books list since its publication. I think the backlash Lee received was harsh, and, perhaps, turned her away from publishing more. Maybe, she was worried that she would become known for To Kill a Mockingbird, and nothing else she published would ever live up to the acclaim of this novel. It seems like it was too much pressure.


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