After a seriously off-schedule weekend, I’ve finally returned to the beaten path and finished To Kill a Mockingbird! ** Momentary pause for giddy dancing **
Back to business. I read this book when I was thirteen or fourteen, and while I could understand the plot well enough, I don’t think I could appreciate all the nuances and themes. It was almost like reading an entirely different book, and, well, it’s now one of my favorites, definitely earning a place on the shelf of honor (yes – I have one of those. The real question is: why don’t you? And if you do, allow me to send over virtual hugs, soul mate).
My favorite part about the book was the fact that even if Scout, in her innocence and youth, didn’t understand something that was occurring in her world, Lee wrote in a way that we understood. There was a bit of nostalgia, as well, being in the head of a young girl unaware of the harsh realities that surrounded her. Remembering those days, but also realizing where you are now. There’s a bit of self-evaluation involved while reading, at least for me.
Atticus Finch has also joined the ranks as one of my favorite literary characters. There’s just something about him that really strikes me as unique. He’s wise and intelligent, even if many characters pass him off as meek. Even if he can’t fulfill every need that his children have, he tries his hardest and that dedication seeps from the pages. If he was a living, breathing person, existing outside my psyche, it would be an ultimate pleasure to have a discussion with the man. Or, rather, sit on the porch and read side by side. Which, really, is even better than talking.
Structurally, the book was far more complex than I remembered. Now, I can see all of the little subplots and themes interwoven and blended in such a flawless way that they all matter, but never clamor for attention above the others. Boo Radley, though a simple superstition in the beginning of the book, and disappearing for most of the middling part, was one of the most touching parts of the book. Scout’s initial fear that melted into immediate trust was endearing, and effectively illustrated one of the themes: don’t judge someone before you get to know them.
In regards to the racial tension and time period of the book, this was another part that I felt was really well done. It never became preachy, or overwhelming. Sometimes, authors can get carried away with their own objective, and characters become ships for theology, but this didn’t happen with the characters of the novel. It’s quiet force is more powerful than an outright assault on segregation, and I truly appreciated that aspect. If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s being indoctrinated while I’m trying to enjoy a book.
In the end, I give it a 10/10. I truly enjoyed this book, cover to cover, and I’ll be reading it again in the future, as well as teaching it to my American Literature students.
As a parting question (I take no credit – I read it somewhere on the internet): On a scale of 1 to Boo Radley, how shy are you?