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To Kill A Mockingbird

Style: Classic

Attitude: Positive

This review was contributed by Ben G

In Brief: Racism and how this is fought by one man in the Deep South.

Author: Harper Lee

Publisher: HarperCollins

Published in: 1960

Age Range: General

Period: Mid 20th C

Setting: Small town in the American South

Genres:  ClassicGrowing-UpMoral Issue


Characters:

  • Scout is the narrator, a young white girl growing up in the Deep South.
  • Jem is her slightly older brother, whose growing friendship with
  • Dill takes them both away from her.
  • Atticus Finch, father of Scout and Jem is a lawyer who undertakes to defend a poor black man against unfounded accusations of molesting a white girl.

Synopsis:

To Kill a Mockingbird is set in the deep south of America during the 1930s, a time at which racial prejudice was rife. This is one of the central themes of the book and is explored throughout. The book, although written for adults, focuses on the lives of two young children (Jem & Scout Finch) and the father Atticus as they grow and live in the sleepy town of Maycomb.

To Kill a Mockingbird is divided into two parts: Part One and Part Two. The first part of the story really lets the reader get to know the personality of the characters. Part One is full of anecdotes of the adventures of Jem and Scout; the reader gets to see what Scout's first day in the First Grade is like, and also witnesses a typical Finch Christmas. But one of the most important parts in Part One is the whole issue with Boo Radley. Boo has a bad reputation in Maycomb... at least for children. Boo had got himself into some trouble when he was younger and has not been seen outside of his house for years! Each summer the three children (Jem, Scout and Dill) will do whatever they can to get a glimpse of this strange character.

Part Two takes on what To Kill a Mockingbird is really about. Part Two deals with the issue of racial discrimination. Atticus is called to defend a black man accused of raping a white girl: in Maycomb terms certain death. This episode brings to life with a jolt the twn of Maycomb because (shock horror) Atticus actually plans to defend the black man!

Notes:

Personally, I loved the writing style in To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee knows how to make a book flow. The Southern accent is not hard to decipher at all (unlike some other classics, such as Tom Sawyer).

All the characters in the story are well-developed, seemed very realistic and round. When reading the book you feel the charm of the small town and that of all the rather eccentric minor characters found within the depths of the book.

The themes touch on by Harper Lee are very relevant to the time. (Martin Luther King was just beginning the black civil rights movement in America) and through the benevolent character of Atticus we really see the image of a true Christian and gentleman. Atticus will always “Get into other people's skin and walk around in it” which means he never judges anyone. There is also a very strong message of the importance of racial equality and through the course of the book one will discover many “mocking birds” to sympathise with.

I personally can pick out no fault with To Kill a Mockingbird, however others may be offended by the use of the word “niggers”. Lee makes it very clear however that racial prejduce is wrong and we are left very clear as to who the real “mocking birds” are at the end of the book.

Due to possibly explicit language such as the use of the word “niggers” and adult themes such as rape I would not recommend this book to under-14s.

Tuesday 15th July 2003