I was shocked when I learned that many schools banned this book. Let me clear something up here: This book shows the horrors of racism, and the main characters try to defend the African American. This is Historical Fiction. The speech reflects the time period. And, unfortunately, it was common to look down on people of different skin color. But the book does not say that it is good to discriminate!
Rather, the story is told through the eyes of a young, tomboyish girl named Scout, who’s father is a lawyer who defends a black man against false charges.
A gripping, heart-wrenching, and wholly remarkable tale of coming-of-age in a South poisoned by virulent prejudice, it views a world of great beauty and savage inequities through the eyes of a young girl, as her father–a crusading local lawyer–risks everything to defend a black man unjustly accused of a terrible crime.
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most cute yet heart-wrenching tales I’ve ever read. The book takes its time getting to the trial, and we see Scout [Jean Louise] Finch have fun with her older brother Jem in a time where there weren’t televisions in every house. Dill, a boy who visits his aunt one summer becomes Jem and Scout’s best friend, and they have plenty of fun together. It’s a walk down the the streets of time past.
Dill often ends up with the Finch’s most of the time because of family issues. Dill is curious to the point of daring about the mysterious neighbor of the Finch’s, Boo Radley. Boo hadn’t stepped foot out of the house in years. Most of the summer is spent acting out scenes about Boo, and trying to get Boo to come out of the house.
By the time Scout reaches 3rd grade, she knows something is off. She never was too impressed by her father’s occupation, a lawyer, and it never really affected her until Atticus Finch decided to take on the case of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of attacking and molesting a poor white girl who lived in a dump.
Jean Louise Finch (AKA Scout): She’s innocent. She doesn’t really understand the subject of the case, or racial prejudice, or why anyone would hate black people. It almost makes racial prejudice more disturbing to see it through a child’s eyes. She’s care-free for the first part of the book, but when people start to call her father a “nigger lover” she gets into a few fights. Atticus tells her not to fight for him, and to be brave. She begrudgingly accepts his command. She doesn’t have any girl friends, but she and Jem befriended Miss Maudie, a friendly neighbor with spirit and great baking skills. Dill promised to marry Scout when they grow up.
Jem Finch: In the beginning, he’s happy, more care free, and a bit of a dare devil. Dill dares him to run up and touch the Radley house on a dare, and he does so. He is deeply interested in Boo. His change is the most pronounced in my opinion. He understands the trial, and is deeply affected by it.
Dill (Charles Baker Harris): A good friend of the Finch’s. He has a troubled family and was sent off to live with his aunt one summer.
Atticus Finch: He reads books. He defends Tom Robinson to the full extent of his abilities. He tries to help Scout and Jem wrestle through the case, the prejudice, and other issues. He is the kid’s moral compass in a sense. He looks down on them making fun of Boo, and responds calmly to his enemies. He has compassion for Mayella Ewell, and her circumstances. He tells Scout and Jem that it’s okay to shoot the bluebirds, but never to shoot a mockingbird because all they do is make music, and they never mess the garden, or nest in corncribs. He helps Scout and Jem see the good in other people, even if they seem to be all cantankerous and nasty. (All pics from Pinterest)
Calpurnia: The black housekeeper of the Finch’s, almost the surrogate mother of Scout and Jem since their mother died when Scout was young. She’s a strong woman, who Scout dislikes for a while.
Miss Maudie: The Finch’s next door neighbor who lets them play in her yard so long as they watch out for her flowers. She likes to bake cakes for them. She provides a listening ear whenever Scout needs to talk.
The Ewells: They are a ragtag bunch of people who live in a near dump. They are mostly isolated from society. The children go to school once a day (that’s all that the welfare lady attempts to do) and don’t know anything. Their father is mean, and their mother died.
Mayella Ewell is an interesting person. She planted flowers along their measly property, and (sometimes) tries to make the kids mind. She accuses Tom of molesting her.
Miss Stephanie Crawford: Miss Stepanie Crawford is the town gossip. She’s always at the juiciest places, and the Finch children don’t care for her too much.
Miss Dubose: The grumpy old lady that makes Jem read to her every day for a month after he wrecks something of hers. She’s strange, and they don’t like her. Scout bravely tags along with Jem for his reading sessions. She bad mouths Atticus, and Jem and Scout don’t see how their father can still be courteous to her.
Aunt Alexandria: Sister to Atticus Finch. Scout dislikes her immensely, as Aunt Alexandria tries to make her into a lady.
And many, many more.
What I liked: The style of the book. It reads like A Girl of the Limberlost, if you’ve read that. The characters are amazing. Atticus tells someone that if he didn’t take this case, he could never ask his children to do something again. Atticus believes he will lose the case, but he takes it anyway. There are a few plot twists, and nicely executed. The end is very touching, yet bittersweet. It’s definitely a read to meander through, and enjoy the whole time.
What I didn’t like: The whole subject of the court case was a little mature. Scout really doesn’t understand what happened, even though she stubbornly insists that she does. I read the book for the first time when I was 13, but I wouldn’t go any younger. It is an adult book. Scout asks what rape is. There are some ugly scenes. There are a few slightly gross scenes, like when a cootie wriggles out of someones hair at school.
The book is rich with symbolism. To kill a mocking bird to is to kill innocence. Throughout the book, helpless mockingbirds are killed. The message of the book is: Don’t hurt someone who’s done no wrong.
Yes, the book shows discrimination. It shows it as a horrible thing. Should it be banned for “hate speech?”
I say nay. Read it for yourself, and don’t judge a book by the critics.
WRITING: 5/5 STARS
CHARACTERS: 5/5 STARS
THEMATIC STUFF (1 NONE, 5 HIGH): 4
LEVEL OF VIOLENCE (1 BEING NONE, 5 BEING HIGH): 2
LANGUAGE: (1 BEING NONE, 5 BEING HIGH): 2.5 (some minor instances)
Verdict: 3 for younger audiences, 5 for older audiences