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Previous Monthly Reads > Spoiler Thread: To Kill a Mockingbird

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message 1: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) This is the spoiler thread for To Kill a Mockingbird

message 2: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments The problem with great books is that it doesn't provoke much discussion. You can say I love this book. It's one of my favorites etc. and then what else? It's a shame we haven't really talked about this book.

message 3: by Paul (new)

Paul Very true Susan.
It is an amazing book. Always seemed odd she never managed to write another book after it but was the book just impossible to follow on from .
Atticus is one of my favourite heros. He doesnt seem warm at the start but hes impossible not to respect by the end. Boo Radley is an odd one. An interesting character , and the initial fear of him adds to that .

message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments The thing I liked about Atticus is he knew exactly who he was and how he wanted to live his life. This helped carry out those things that others wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole.

message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul He stands up for all of that no matter how many move against him and his ideal. His strength is amazing.

message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan | 4707 comments He's my definition of a grown-up. My father was very much like him. Dad was Superintendent of Schools and I remember him standing strong when he fired a pedophile in the late 1960's. The teacher came from a long-time, well connected family and many in the town could not believe he would do this. It was a scary time and people even made death threats on the phone which dad just ignored.

message 7: by Trelawn (new)

Trelawn People of principle, like Atticus, are rare which is why they are all the more impressive when we come across them. Atticus is the person many of us aspire to be, standing up for what we believe to be right no matter the consequences.

message 8: by Paul (new)

Paul Glad to hear your Dad was on of the great men Susan. Definitely a bit of Atticus in him.

message 9: by Sara (new)

Sara | 2357 comments Mod
I think great books are frequently great books because they explore great themes. In order to provoke a bit more discussion I looked up some discussion questions There's a full list at the link, but I've just suggested a few of my favorites below. These are only suggestions though. People should discuss whatever aspects of the book they want!

"How does the town of Maycomb function as a character with its own personality, rather than merely as a backdrop for the novel's events?"

"The novel takes place during the Great Depression. How do class divisions and family quarrels highlight racial tensions in Maycomb?"

Personally, I'm definitely noticing the theme of class much more than when I read the book as a kid.

"What elements of this novel did you find funny, memorable, or inspiring? Are there any characters whose beliefs or actions impressed or surprised you? Did any events lead you to revisit childhood memories or see them in a new light?"

"Adult readers may focus so much on the novel's politics that they may neglect the coming-of-age story. What does Scout learn, and how does she change in the course of her narrative?"

message 10: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) It's easy to like Atticus. He is a combination of the wise mentor and the knight in shining armour from the stories of our childhood. What I found this time was as an adult I could appreciate some of the secondary characters who aren't paragons of virtue but average people. In particular I came to appreciate Aunt Alexandra more. When I read it before I didn't like her, but this time around I could see that while she does actually believe in the same things as Atticus she is scared and worried about what will happen. I can't help but think of the saying "evil endures when good men do nothing". Atticus is the good man who ensures it does not. Aunt Alexandra is the good man who lets it endure because of her own fears. She's basically your average person.

message 11: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) I'm the same Sara. I think this time around I'm appreciating that it isn't just a book about race but about discrimination in general. Race is the easy one. The harder ones to pick up on are class and I would also argue women. What struck me this time around were the number of strong female characters; Miss Maudie, Calpurnia and Aunt Alexandra. They're all strong women in a society with very set views on the role of women. It's clear that while Atticus is trying to teach Scout about the world and justice they are staying to teach her how to be both strong but operate within an society that doesn't permit certain behaviours in women.

message 12: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) It is easy to forget it's a coming of age story for both Scout and Jem. The story is really following them over a number of years as they come to understand that the world is not black and white (in terms of right and wrong) and it isn't fair. Sometimes good people will do bad things but that doesn't make them bad. I think that loss of innocence and awareness is probably more evident in Jem then Scout. Jem really struggles with the trial and the outcome, far more then Scout does.

message 13: by Paul (new)

Paul It is one of the great coming of age books but as Emma said you can forget that as the legal side and Atticus stand out so much. Theres also a fun side to the childhood depiction, I think Lee wrote the thoughts and games of childhood so well.

I wonder if Harper Lee knew an Atticus growing up.

message 14: by Paul (new)

Paul Thanks Mary. Good to know.

message 15: by Kevin (new)

Kevin A video discussing TKAM and one that I think does an excellent job of doing so.

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

wonderful story and still digesting it, have to say I was very surprise with the story line and think it will be one I will be rereading it over my life

message 17: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Do any of you think that the death of Bob Ewell at the end maybe sends the wrong message and isn't really justice in its best form? Obviously Ewell represents crookedness and evil whilst Boo epitomises innocence and goodness, but surely Boo is also corrupted since he knowingly stabbed and killed Bob Ewell. Maybe this was considered justice at this time? I would argue that the book is so clear on issues of discrimination and race that surely it would also be against killing or any nature.

message 18: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) Given that Americans, particularly in the South, have pretty strong views on things like the right to bear arms and right to defend yourself it isn't that surprising. Plus I think the death is meant to be an accident. Boo didn't intend to kill Bob only to help the children where as Bob intended to kill the children. In some things the intention behind an action is as important or indeed more important then the action itself.

message 19: by Serf (new)

Serf Ya I felt his death was justified, he was a danger to innocents. Waiting there to kill two kids and it seemed to me the knife went in accidentally in a tussle moreso than he ran at him with a knife.

message 20: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) And it's not like Boo would have survived in jail if anyone had felt inclined to uphold the law. Proclaiming it an accident was the morally right thing to do even if it was the legally right thing.

message 21: by Kevin (new)

Kevin I agree with ye of course but I'm just exploring the issue. So the killing of Bob Ewell is almost another kick at the wrongness of Maycomb's society in that in order for someone to be moral they must go against what is socially acceptable.

message 22: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) I don't think it's necessarily to do with Maycomb. More it's part of the coming of age element of the book. For children the world is black and white. There are rules and to break them is wrong without exception. As adults though we learn that while one must abide by the rules and for the most part abiding by them means doing the right thing we also know there are exceptions to every rule, times when it is if not acceptable then at least understandable why a person might break a rule. To steal is wrong, but to steal because your family are hungry and you're desperate is understandable. To kill is wrong, but to kill in self defence of yourself or those weaker then you is acceptable. We recognise that sometimes the greater good is better served by not strictly adhering to the rules.

message 23: by Kevin (new)

Kevin I had an interesting conversation about this book with a friend of mine who is originally from Hungary. He is a bookworm like myself but only recently got around to reading To Kill a Mockingbird. He really didn't see what the big fuss was about the book, saying that really nothing substantial for him happened until he got towards the latter half of the story when things truly heat up.

We were talking more about it and eventually put it down to him growing up in Hungary where this sort of situation may not resonant as well as it does in the Western world. The only real racial issue he finds to be in Hungary is that of the gypsies which I wouldn't find compatible with that of black and white people in 1950s America.

I guess it also brought up the question of if TKAMB was published today, would it take off as it did and would it have the lasting popularity that it has retained for so so long?

message 24: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) I'm not sure about that logic Kevin. Until the last 10 - 15 yrs Ireland was an extremely homogenous society, yet the book has been a school classic for decades. Besides the concept of discrimination is universal. The book may portray that through racial and class tensions be used in that period and for America that is the obvious example, but the message is transferable to any group who is discriminated against.

message 25: by Paul (new)

Paul I'd be suprised at the Hungarians thinking their only racial issue was Gypsys considering tge centuries of turmoil with the Muslims and domination by Germanic peoples as well.
I also don't think racism as portrayed in the book is a thing of the past. I think a lot of the messages ring true in so many ways all around the world

message 26: by Paul (new)

Paul I think if you make a class read a book a reasonable amount of them will be bored to tears. They don't go on to be readers. Back nearly 20 years ago when I did it in school some of tge class were bored to tears but others loved it.
I really don't think tge book has dated as badly as you seem to be saying.
Injustice due to predjudice definitely still manifests itself and those that fight back dace a huge challenge. This was true then and still is.
I genuinally believe a character like Attucus Finch is timeless and will always be relavent.

message 27: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) As Paul says kids being bored by a book is no indication of a book. The minute it becomes required reading they are going to hate it. It's the rule when your that age.

message 28: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) Did you have to study it to death though Mary?

message 29: by Kevin (new)

Kevin I think there will always be those who refuse to put the time into books so in turn they never see the benefits. I don't think there is any answer to it really. I see that some schools now read The Hunger Games and I would really disagree with its place on the cirriculum. I'm not sure what it has to offer other than it being entertaining, but why trade of TKAMB for it when Mockingbird offers both entertainment and life building truths.

message 30: by Paul (new)

Paul I think adding a book purely for entertainment value is a bit worrying all right. Thats an odd call. I quite like The Hunger Games but I don't see a huge value in studying it, unless comparing writing over time .

message 31: by Paul (new)

Paul I think a bad teacher can ruin a good book quite easily. Some English teachers can inspire passion in literature. Others don't care once the class gets over the exam line. I've had both .

message 32: by Gavin (last edited Jun 08, 2015 12:01PM) (new)

Gavin (bookmad93) | 871 comments Lol in second year English we were deciding the novel we were going to do between This and Roll of thunder, I went and got both read both before a decision was made lol.

Kevin, I think THG has a lot of things that could be discussed I've had many conversations with friends over it and paralleling it to modern times and possible future it has a lot of political discussion.

Also for leaving cert english novels now includes The Perks and TFiOS and still Harry Hasn't been added to the Secondary School system here yet it is on the GCSEs and plenty of College Degrees

message 33: by Trelawn (new)

Trelawn I would have to agree that students' distaste for a book is no reflection on the book itself. Students will always react against books they are "forced" to read. I think the fact that we have voted TKAMB as our monthly read, discussing ansd debating it and our equal parts excited and anxious about reading it's sequel speaks volumes as to it's relevance, timelessness and universality.

message 34: by Gavin (new)

Gavin (bookmad93) | 871 comments In a way this generation may relate more to THG dystopian feel, governments etc. I relate to both in different ways.

message 35: by Gavin (new)

Gavin (bookmad93) | 871 comments Again not related to the thread but for my Leaving cert it was Lies Of Silence and frankly as I am fast reader the class and teacher weren't I got board constantly rereading the story yet with TKAMB I didn't. Weird I don't think it was due to the setting just the pace, was the same with the film and play that was chosen,

message 36: by Paul (new)

Paul If your going to teach Dystopic fiction theres a much wider variety than The Hunger Games. I think picking tge flavour of the month is a very dangerous approach. Its a bit too reactionary . Things become classics for a reason. I love Harry Potter but its still a bit soon for hardcore study for exams. Those doing college disseratatioms on it have to go into an amazing depth of research to make it weighty enough .
I think TFIOS and Perks are a bit different as they deal with issues tge students might be going through at the time or can connect to. The odds of tyem being carted off to Hogwarts are slim

message 37: by Gavin (last edited Jun 08, 2015 12:16PM) (new)

Gavin (bookmad93) | 871 comments Paul wrote: "If your going to teach Dystopic fiction theres a much wider variety than The Hunger Games. I think picking tge flavour of the month is a very dangerous approach. Its a bit too reactionary . Things ..."

Oh Paul I know :), from what I see THG isn't for the Jnr Cert text only for first year ( My sister starting in September). The 2nd and 3rd years of TKAMB on the booklist.

My first year book was Under the Hawthorn Tree

Yah I have read many of the academia writings on Harry around Harry they are truly amazing. especially the parallels with WW2 and Hitler :)
Sure we have already been didn't you see Jo's recent tweet
[ Heck I even got it in my Ethics Exam this year ]

message 38: by Paul (new)

Paul I had a friend who did her thesis on Harry Potter but sadly I never read it sadly. JK manages a lot of symbolism in a "kids" series and definitely should be commended for it. As a pre Junior Cert intro to the wonders of reading it can't be a bad thing at all.

message 39: by Serf (new)

Serf Relating to a book is one thing but at the end of the day leaving cert English required reading should be books where the author has a fantastic use of language and the story should have layers and depth which to kill a mockingbird has. Harry potter are no doubt very successful and popular books with a lovely storyline but examinable literature should be more complex in my opinion.

message 40: by Gavin (last edited Jun 08, 2015 12:25PM) (new)

Gavin (bookmad93) | 871 comments Seraphina wrote: "Relating to a book is one thing but at the end of the day leaving cert English required reading should be books where the author has a fantastic use of language and the story should have layers and..."

Seraphine,To Kill is on the Junior Cycle reading not Leaving :) HP has depth and layers but that is for another day. Each have their own opinions.
If i was to choose a HP book for exam purposes it would be Order of The Phoenix the one that possibly has the most to discuss.

message 41: by Gavin (new)

Gavin (bookmad93) | 871 comments anyway will pull out my copy of TKAMB due a reread haven't read it since 2007-2008

message 42: by Kevin (new)

Kevin HP has layers of complexity but as someone said it is more a complexity suited for college level students rather than secondary school, where teachers struggle to motivate students to read a chapter never mind a 600+ pager. :P

A friend of mine did her MA in Gender Studies on HP which is one of the more obvious themes in the series. Although again issues of gender would go right over the head of the average Joe looking to get the Leaving cert out of the way.

message 43: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) God I hated Lies of Silence.

Seraphina you're right Leaving Cert texts need to be complex and have a huge amount of depth. TKAMB for example while an excellent book and great for 14 year olds would be too simple a text for the leaving cert, at least for a standalone. Same goes for Harry Potter. Great for Jr Cert or GCSEs but not for Leaving Cert. And just because people write dissertations on a book or have courses with it on it in college means nothing. Dissertations can be about anything you want once you can up with 5-10,000 words of waffle on it. And colleges make up modules about any topic the lecturer is interested in. In some cases it makes sense like if it's a module on Children's lit. It is no reflection of the complexity of a book.

The Hunger Games actually isn't a bad choice of its for first years and not therefore an exam text. Sounds much better then mine was, The Cay. And come on EVERYONE ends up reading Under the Hawthorn Tree in primary school. At least Hunger Games as a young adult text, they are less likely to have read. At 12/13 they'd be too young for most other dystopian texts like The Handmaidens Tale.

message 44: by Trelawn (new)

Trelawn I wanted to do my MA on HP too but was talked down :-) nobody can deny there are lots of contemporary books out there that would work on the LC syllabus but LC cert English is about more than just debating the issues. It requires study of language and form and comparatives etc etc. The right balance of texts has to be struck in order to be able to study all the different facets of literature. TKAMB ticks a lot of boxes on the criteria list.

message 45: by Trelawn (new)

Trelawn * even if it is a Junior Cycle text

message 46: by Gavin (new)

Gavin (bookmad93) | 871 comments It does indeed i think because of the class i was in for English those things weren't ticked for me with Lies of Silance Two years for 251 pages the class read only finished before the Mocks at that stage I didn't care about it. If i knew I could've done my own text I would have. The class notes discusions werent helpful and no 'spark notes'

message 47: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Mary, I had a similar experience in my own class at school when we were studying Elizabeth Bishop. In this case the mother came in and tore into the teacher that her daughter would most definitely not be having anything to do with that "lesbian drivel". Like you said, it just made such an awkward and embarrassing scene and my heart went out to that girl. Surely you can contemplate and study something without having to accept it as your own.

message 48: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) Like the teacher had a choice. Elizabeth Bishop is prescribed poet.

message 49: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Yup Emma. We had 6 poets, Bishop, Plath, Wordsworth, Kinsella, Mahon and Rich. The mother never complained about her daughter studying Adrienne Rich who I'd find to be much more controversial than Bishop. The girl must have kept that one quiet. :) I can't remember what poet she opted for instead of Bishop, maybe Donne? I remember it was definitely a swap that was pretty much equally as "evil".

message 50: by Emma (new)

Emma Flanagan (emma89) And less advantageous. Everyone knows do the female poets because at least one of them will be on the paper. I actually like Donne. Was never a huge fan of Bishop.

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