Saturday, April 30, 2011

Book Twenty-Six - To Kill A Mockingbird

Harper Lee
. .. I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.
How is it that I've not read this book before? I've seen the movie but of course the book is so much more... more profound, more touching, more meaningful.

Unsurprisingly, this book was banned in many areas when it was published. Fortunately that never stopped anyone from reading it. Mockingbird was first published in 1960 and has sold over 30 million copies in 18 languages. It’s an easy matter to understand why. This book has wit, intelligence, humor, history and love. 

The history of discrimination of blacks is well documented, but I did not know that if a woman over 18 was in the process of being sexually assaulted she was legally required to fight back, to kick and scream, to be overpowered and beaten; if she really wanted to prove her innocence, being knocked unconscious was her best bet. Well, other than being killed, I suppose. Men are legally more accountable these days, but socially it’s not much different. People still talk about an adulterous woman as a home-wrecker, as if the man who allowed his home to be wrecked had no choice in the matter. I hasten to add that not all people have this view and I have known both men and women who would find this notion abhorrent, but I still hear men being given a free pass quite frequently by both genders. A young beautiful woman who looks to seduce a married man is still evil in our society while the man is simply following nature’s call. Dude.

What does this book teach? Tolerance? Level-headedness? The value of respecting one’s privacy? Yes, but I believe the main message is love. It’s about the love Atticus has for his children and the love he has for all mankind (even those who commit evil) and the desire he has to instill that love for others in his children. Atticus is not about hate, even when most of the world would say he has every reason to do so. He’s all about love and acceptance of others for who they are.

To Kill A Mockingbird could have been set in any time or place, for in every community are those who need help and those who wish to help, but in our society it seems that they seldom get matched up properly. The helpers tend to give help to those overseas, to people who need the kind of help it is "acceptable" to give. Helpers tend not to want to help people with addictions or even those with lice. If only the helpers would spend half a day sitting in their county’s welfare office, they would learn what they could do in their own communities. But they seem to avoid this knowledge.

I suspect we are as misguided as those in 1935, only in different ways. Through their love and courage, people like Atticus quietly show us the way forward.


  1. Your review makes me want to reread To Kill a Mockingbird. I keep saying that it's one of my favorite books, but I haven't read it in years. Also, I completely agree that love is one of the main messages of the book. :)

  2. For the longest time we wanted to name our little girl, Scout... The characters in this book are so wonderful and I agree that Love is a central point of the novel. Atticus is one of the greatest role models in all of literature. Honestly, it’s been quite a while since I last read this. I think it might be time for a re-read!