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Book Discussions > To Kill a Mockingbird - SPOILERS

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message 1: by Ian, Moderator (new)

Ian (pepecan) | 5528 comments Mod
I know loads of you love this novel, whereas I just enjoyed it and cannot see what all the fuss is about. I'd love to know why. Below is my rather rambling review to start us off.


"I was looking forward to reading this novel, seeing that it has such a good reputation; indeed it is top of the GR polls for best ever novel. I was however slightly disappointed and whilst I enjoyed it on some levels, I am left puzzled as to why it strikes such a note with so many readers.

It comes across as very much a YA novel and perhaps this explains it's appeal as it is very widely taught in schools, but as an adult reading it for the first time I found it rather shallow and all the adult characters including the legendary moral beacon Atticus Finch unsatisfying.

The story is narrated throughout by Scout Finch, the young daughter of the lawyer and widower Atticus. She is 4 or 5 when the story begins and 8 when it ends and I thought that the joys and frustrations of childhood were beautifully portrayed in her adventures with her older brother Gem and their friend Dill as they try to discover the secrets of Boo Radley. Her perspective on the world is that of a very young child and thus her father achieves hero status very early on. The age of the narrator does explain the shallow depth of the adults and I would have found this wholly acceptable if the book had not gone into the adult world of racism. The child narrator realism went a bit west in the scenes during the trial of Tom Robinson and some of the reflections and conclusions drawn thereafter were just not those of such a young child.

The main black characters who are so put upon and degraded throughout the story just come across as mere stereotypes - Calpurnia the loyal,loving and wise housekeeper and Tom Robinson as the victim who in the main accepts his ridiculously unjust fate with stoic good grace.

Atticus Finch himself follows the well trodden and traditional American cultural hero type as the loner who stands above or outside society. In early American literature, these characters were mostly isolated and brooding such as Ahab in Moby Dick or Arthur Dimmesdale/Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter, but Atticus is there to do good and be a moral beacon. He is more like Natty Bumppo(Hawkeye) in Last Of The Mohicans, but without the depth of that character or in a more modern sense he is "Dirty Harry" Callaghan or Shane or the iconic Sergeant Elias in Platoon.

I suppose the book's popularity and status is perhaps related to it's publication date. It portrays a racist white society of the 1930's that was still prevalent in the South in the 1950's and 1960's. It was published in the decade of but before the great Civil Rights movement led by Martin Luther King gained the ascendency in the debate about equal rights and perhaps it helped lay the seeds for white opinion to go in that direction."

message 2: by Sam (new)

Sam | 97 comments This books is one of my favourites however I did study it for my GCSEs 20 odd years ago. I'm always nervous about the thought of re-reading it just in case it doesn't hold quite the same power it did from when I was a teen. I can remember being totally captivated by the book & also enjoying the film.
I'll be interested to hear what others that may have read it as an adult think.

message 3: by Bill (new)

Bill | 2714 comments I read it in school as a yougster and a few times since then. I always enjoy it; even though I can't say that my life experiences in any way touch on those of Scout and her family, it always touches me and affects me emotionally. I also love the movie, have seen it many times and have never grown tired of it. I think the movie is very respectful and faithful to the book. I don't know that I consider it as a young adult-type book as I think many of the issues covered are deeper than that. Having said that, I think young adults still enjoy it. Obviously it won't affect people the same way and I can imagine if you go in with everyone's high praise for it, it might not live up to that praise. Anyway, I've rambled a bit too much, probably, but suffice it to say, this is a book/ movie that I can safely read/ watch time after time and not get tired of it.

message 4: by Em (new)

Em (emmap) | 2929 comments I read it when I was younger although I think I was in my early 20's rather than my teens and I found it OK, enjoyed it but didn't really feel any need to revist it.

Then my book group elected it and I thought better read it again, my memory ain't that good! On the second read my feelings remained much the same. I liked it, enjoyed reading it etc but it's not one of my all time favourites. I know it's awful, but Little Woman left me the same way, it's not that I didn't like these books but for some reason they didn't have the emotional impact on me that some other people feel and so I don't hold them in such high esteem or with the same kind of affection.

Never seen the film, although I hear it is good.

message 5: by Ian, Moderator (new)

Ian (pepecan) | 5528 comments Mod
I think I've seen the film a long time or maybe just lots of clips. I had Gregory Peck's voice in my head when Atticus spoke.

message 6: by Robert (new)

Robert (bobhe) | 785 comments think this is brilliant so far
Did John Gresham just copy for A Painted House
will join in discussion hope tomorrow when finished book on rainy Sunday in the pub!!

message 7: by Ian, Moderator (new)

Ian (pepecan) | 5528 comments Mod
Funnily enough I loved Painted House. Grisham's best novel and no lawyer in sight.

message 8: by Robert (new)

Robert (bobhe) | 785 comments Now lesson for one and all!! If you read down the pub don't drink too much and forget your book
will have to visit library i think
I agree about painted house but after being half way through Mockingbird do you agree similarities?

message 9: by Ian, Moderator (new)

Ian (pepecan) | 5528 comments Mod
You may have spotted something there Bob. After refreshing memory cells via Wiki, you're right re the child narrator, the loss of innocence, Southern US setting, a murder, downtrodden farm labourers, but funnily enough for Grisham it lacks the central "legal" hero character. If you are only halfway through you may not have got to the bulk of the white/black racism stuff and Atticus as the stand alone hero. See what you think when you're not suffering from self imposed memory loss - lol - sounds like a good night down the pub.

If anybody hasn't read Painted House I would highly recommend it, but it is totally different to Grisham's usual fare.

message 10: by Robert (new)

Robert (bobhe) | 785 comments I have now finally completed the book after emergency call to Mum to send from her charity book shop.

I must say loved this book. Never read at school
I always like a book that I consider well written and crafted which this most certainly was.
I liked Atticus. I thought he was fearless as Ian said,until the last few pages when discussing what to do with Tate. I thought this showed the only thing actually scared of was being a bad father.
I am not aware if this was what like in south in this period, but think probably was.
The comparison with Hitler was not really explored and would have liked to have known Atticus opinion
The big unanswered question I feel was who killed Ewell?
My thought was Arthur covered up by TATE
Great book and now going to revisit another American classic which did read from school white Fang Jack London
Please feel free to disagree with me and keep discussion going


message 11: by Ian, Moderator (new)

Ian (pepecan) | 5528 comments Mod
Arthur killed Ewell.....don't think that's in doubt Bob. As for the south and it's treatment of blacks, I think this is a mild depiction from what I have read elsewhere. Glad you enjoyed it so much.

message 12: by Amy (new)

Amy | 7 comments I read To Kill A Mockingbird a couple of weeks ago and I loved it. I decided to read it because I realised I was constricted in my reading library and I wanted to expand and explore some books, I'm only 18 so I have only just started to branch out of YA novels. But I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I found Scout's perspective intriguing, it just reminded me of that saying "ignorance is bliss" Scout wasn't aware of the racism that her elders felt so when it came to her observations during the trial, it was kinda sweet. There is this one scene that has really stuck to me, it's when the jury is out to make their decision and Scout is sitting there thinking how if she could get everyone in the courtroom to think about Tom Robinson being found innocent then it will happen. I just found that brilliant. I'm really happy to have read this book.

message 13: by Ian, Moderator (new)

Ian (pepecan) | 5528 comments Mod
Interesting thoughts Amy.

message 14: by Robert (new)

Robert (bobhe) | 785 comments Amy wrote: "I read To Kill A Mockingbird a couple of weeks ago and I loved it. I decided to read it because I realised I was constricted in my reading library and I wanted to expand and explore some books, I'm..."

Great to see you are branching out
Can I suggest White Fang another modern classis which I have just bought to re read

message 15: by A.L. (new)

A.L. Butcher (alb2012) | 265 comments I did this in Eng Lit a LONG time ago. I don't remember a good deal but I do remember the significance of it,

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