Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee

There are some books that have a very profound, a very strong , or a life-altering effect; they teach us a way of life.  To Kill a Mockingbird is one such book, that adults will always ask their kids to read when they are growing up.

The narrator is six year old Scout Finch who lives with her older brother Jem and widowed father Atticus Finch. Jem and Scout are joined by another boy called Dill and three of them explore the town and try to understand the events that have all the adults riled up. One such event is the case that Atticus Finch has been ordered by court, to defend a black man Tom Robinson. Tom Robinson has been accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a young white woman and the town is convinced of his crime because of his race. Atticus manages to prove that Mayella and her father are lying and trying to frame Tom but the jury convicts him and he’s shot while trying to escape prison.  The injustice of it all rankles Scout and her companions and they try to make sense of the world around them. The story takes place during three years of the Great Depression in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama.  Lee targets the racial discrimination that pervaded the Deep South and brings it out very well through the voice of her innocent narrator.

I was just entering my teens when I’d first read the book and I have never yet ceased to remember the effect the book had on me. One knows that racial discrimination is a fact, that there’s injustice in the world, that there are some who will stand up to truth and fight, but to be introduced to such concepts again through Scout put things into perspective. Atticus Finch was a man who gained your trust and respect, not just because the integrity he showed in his profession, a profession which isn’t too well known for their ethics, but also for the way he brought up his children without a mother. You see Scout and you feel for her, and love her guts. What has still stuck with me is the fact that she called her father by his name, Atticus. I remember how I though that it was such an odd and yet individualistic thing to do, to recognize a man for a man, and not for his role. I found that metaphor to echo throughout the book. Tom Robinson was not punished for being who he is, but for being seen in the role of a black man in a white society. Boo Radley was perceived to be eccentric and given a wide berth, not for being who he was, but for what they made him out to be.  Atticus Finch, was the man he was, as in his life as in work, courageous, noble and honest, a man who became a hero for being who he was, for that is the true measure of integrity.

The world seen through the eyes of six year old can sometimes show more truths than an experienced eye bothers to notice. The confused and eager to learn children show us what we fail to understand when we abandon our curiosities and our search to find the truth. One can read the book time and again and only find their respect for the characters burgeoning with every passing year that our world falls into hands of Madoffs and Haywards.

This is a classic that everyone should read at least once in their lives.  It is Lee’s only published work, but one that has a secured her a place in history that will be difficult to dislodge for many years to come. Nothing compares to the impact this book has had on its readers and modern literature.


4 thoughts on “Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

  1. I read this book in college and like you and nearly everyone who have read it, it was mind-altering. When I watched the film adaptation, the message hit home all the harder. Your review has done full justice to this outstanding classic Alpana. Well done!

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