Scout and her older brother, Jem, are children growing up in the backyards of small-town Alabama in the 1930s. In this small town, Atticus Finch, the children’s father and their hero, is a well-respected lawyer. Now, the local court has assigned Atticus to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, against a rape charge brought by a poor, white girl, Mayella. During the trial, it becomes obvious that Tom is innocent for he is crippled in the left arm, and is thus physically incapable of committing this crime. Although Atticus stands up against an entire town on behalf of justice, and does a stunning job of defending Tom, a jury of twelve does not acquit him simply because he is black. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ exposes, in a beguilingly simple, beautiful form, the irrationality and ugliness of racism.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is set in the 1930s in Maycomb, Alabama, a fictional Southern state of the US. In the 1930s, racial discrimination was widespread, and commonly, openly accepted. It was at such a time that Harper Lee, through her book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, stood up against racism in the name of honesty and justice. She created, in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, a brave white liberal, Atticus Finch, and through him, she made a staggering point of the dignity in trying to do the right thing even when the deck is stacked against you.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is narrated in first-person by Scout, a child of 8-years. It is divided into two parts. Part one is full of anecdotes of the adventures and escapades of Jem and Scout, of town legends and quirky neighbors and relatives, and of childish exploits. Part two takes on what ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is really about – racial intolerance. Harper Lee has chosen to deal with a weighty, adult issue through the eyes of an innocent child, so it does not, at any point, take on a sermonizing/moralizing tone. This, I believe, is one of her most compelling achievements. The book has a beautiful flow, and Lee has created some of the most memorable characters in literature.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is a rich, poignant, and riveting novel. It teaches a basic, essential lesson – to be decent and honorable, and to always, always, do the right thing. I loved this book. Loved, loved, loved it! It is one of those classic classics - artful, absorbing and so, so beautiful. Atticus Finch is, quite simply, unforgettable. In one passage, Atticus gives his children air rifles, and tells them “I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird”, because, “….mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy”. Tom Robinson is the innocent Mockingbird of the title – he has done no harm to the society, and yet, in the end, he had to die a brutal, pitiful death. The climax of the trial is one of the most arresting scenes created in literature. I’d give this novel 10 stars if I could. Pick it up. Now.
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