To Kill a Mockingbirdby Published 23 May 2006
|To Kill a Mockingbird.pdf|
|Publisher||Harper Perennial Modern Classics|
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.
To Kill a Mockingbird Reviews
In the course of 5 years, I’ve read this book nearly 17 times. That adds up to reading it once at least every 4 months, on an average. And I still return to this book like a bark seeking a lighthouse in the dark. When I first finished it, I was so overwhelmed by how much I related to it, I read it nearly 8 times before the year ended. By now I’ve memorized almost every scene and I still can’t shake off the feeling that I still have to learn a lot from it. Over the years, I realize that without knowing it, it has become my personal Bible – a beacon to keep me from straying from the path of kindness and compassion, no matter what.
With its baseless cruelty and what Coleridge poetically referred to as motiveless malignity, the world is in need of much motiveless kindness – a rugged determination to keep the world a quiet haven and not the callous, cruel place it constantly aspires to be.
To Kill A Mockingbird is one of those rare books that doesn’t give in to the belief that ”deep down, everybody’s actually good.” Not everybody is. And we must still persevere to see things from their perspective, and though we may not justify their ways, we must strive to understand them – though we might not follow them, we must try to be as kind to them as possible. And yet, there comes a time when some people need to be put down – we must follow the call of our conscience then, and yet be kind to them in the process, as much as we can.
Striving to follow this dictum, I have realized how difficult it is to be kind to others when I find I’m right. It is so easy to put down others bluntly, it is so easy to be critical and fair, but so difficult to consider for a moment what the other might be going through. How convenient it is to dismiss the hardships of others and say, “They had it coming!” and unburden our conscience of the probable guilt that perhaps we’ve been a bit too harsh.
How simple it is to stereotype people, classify them neatly into convenient square boxes and systematically deal with them based on those black-or-white prejudices! Robe a prejudice in the opaque, oppressive garment called Common Sense and display boldly the seal of Social Approval and you’ve solved the biggest difficulty of life – knowing how to treat people.
And yet, nothing could be farther than the truth. Rarely are people so simple as they seem. In Wilde’s words, “The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.” For you never know when a grumpy, rude, racist Mrs. Dubose might be fighting her own monsters or Ewell be, in fact trying to protect the last vestiges of honor he has, or Aunt Alexandra only trying to advocate the least painful way of life. And though we might not agree with any of them, like Atticus, we must see them for their peculiar situations and grant them a little leeway, make a little corner for them too, and yet, stand up for what is right in defiance of them.
It is this tricky rope-walking balance between prejudice and common sense, kindness and firmness, and justice and leeway that spurs me to revisit this little book every time I seem to falter. While I find it difficult to keep my cool in the midst of flagrant injustices and ensuing pain, I strive to strike a balance between giving in to despair and becoming too optimistic; between becoming indifferent, unkind, righteous and being compassionate, considerate. It is what keeps me from becoming paranoid or cynical with the unceasing drone of passivity, callousness, overwhelming prejudice and unyielding customs while still being alive to the pain of those very people I do not necessarily agree with.
In a country like India with its bizarre, incomprehensible equations and sequestrations of religion, class, caste, region, language, race, gender, sexuality and education, it takes a whole load of effort not to blow up one’s mind – people will kill each other over anything and everything. They’ll hate each other, isolate each other and cook up stories amongst themselves and leave it floating in the air. It takes every ounce of my energy not to hate my land and its majority people viciously. Yes, viciously.
But you see, I’ve got so much to learn to survive here – I have to stand up for myself when there will be hordes banging upon my door telling me to shut the hell up. And I’ll have to muster all the courage I have to tell them to go f*** themselves if they think I musn’t transcend the limits set for me. But I also have to learn not to hate them. Even if it sounds silly.
I know for one, Lee – I don’t care if you never wrote another work. I don’t care if Capote helped you write it, as many say. I’m glad somebody wrote this book, and somebody assigned this book as syllabus when I needed it the most. Five years ago, I hadn’t even heard of it. I read it in a single sitting. And then I read it several times over, taking my time, pondering over every page. I still do so. It is my favorite book ever.
I looked up Harper Lee online this is her only published book. However, she did write a few articles that one can find and read online:
Love in other Words - Vogue
Christmas to me - McCalls
When Children Discover America
Romance and High Adventure
Her full name is Nellie Harper Lee - I bet she dropped the Nellie part so publishers would mistakenly think she was a man and read her material. She is also still alive and living in Monroeville, Alabama. And once you read about her and her family, you will know that she is not the only amazing person in that family (guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree).
I was able to tell in the beginning that the book started in the 30's once Dill mentioned that he saw Dracula in the theaters. Dracula was in theaters in 1931-32 (don't ask how I know that), and they mentioned that they were in the Depression which started in 1929 (1927-28 for the farmers) and went on through out the 30's. Since they were openly drinking, Prohibition must have ended (1933). And, towards the end of the book, they were mentioning Hitler and what he was doing in Germany which took place in the late 30's. My history teachers would be so impressed that I retained all of that information. Too bad my head is so full of that information, I have to look up my own phone number.
I loved Scout. In fact, I get dibs on that name for a little girl- or did Bruce Willis and Demi Moore beat me to it? I loved that she wanted to be a person first and then a girl. And she supports the fact that little kids know the meaning of life and forget it as they get older. She had a great relationship with her brother and father and they encouraged her to be true to herself and not follow the stereotypes of ladies of that time. I loved her way of thinking especially how she drew the conclusion that if she starting swearing her dad would assume she picked up the bad habits from school and pull her out. And when she wanted to write a letter to Dill in invisible ink just to drive him crazy, I almost ruined the book because I was drinking a Diet Pepsi at the time.
I have a feeling that Harper Lee was just like Scout and have you noticed that all early 1900 female authors are tomboys? Louisa Mae Alcott was Jo in Little Women, Laura Wilder wrote about herself. It just goes to show you that the truly creative women were those that went against the stereotypes of the time.
I'm not sure I like the fact that Atticus allowed them to call him by his first name and not Dad, but aside from that he was the perfect role model. He talked to them, not at them, and he always listened. He firmly believed that it was important for his children to respect him and by NOT following the creed "Do as I say, not as I do", Scout and Jem would be able to look up to him. He wanted his children to look beyond the color of one's skin, therefore he did. He treated everyone as equal despite their race, family background, age or education and if more people did that, there wouldn't be as many problems today. His teaching methods worked. You can tell how much the children loved and looked up to him. Nothing hurt them more then having their father be ashamed of them. They didn't keep things from him because they thought he wouldn't understand. They kept things from him because they didn't want him to get hurt. And they always listened, because to disobey would hurt Atticus.
Atticus's brother was another one of my favorite characters even though he wasn't mentioned a lot. When he realized his error after punishing Scout for beating up her cousin and tried to make it right, it showed that he also strived to earn their respect just like Atticus. Nothing irates me more then when someone tells me I have to respect them because they are older than me. Whatever. Does that mean I have to respect Bob Ewall because he is older?
It's easy to see with all of the problems in the world why Boo Radley feels safer hiding from away from it. It takes a special person to admit defeat to the cliché "if you can't beat them join them" and turn his back on things he doesn't understand. I think everyone has a little bit of Boo in us, when we shut out the problems of the outside. Of course, we all have a little of Scout in us to especially when I come out fighting if anyone tries to hurt my family.
The court case. Wow, the sad thing is, is I can see that happening even today (i.e. the Rodney King trial). When I moved here the first time, just before the LA riots, there was a huge ordeal about a Korean, store-owner who shot and killed a 17-19 black, teenager girl, she claimed was stealing and attacking her. The security camera shows the tiff and it shows the teen putting down the item and walking towards the exit. The store owner shot her in the back and was found not-guilty, by reason of self-defense. When the book was published in 1960, discrimination was still a big problem. I did like how Harper Lee brought up Hitler's actions against the Jews. It was obvious that what was going on in America with African Americans was no different in her eyes than what Hitler was doing. I agree, we were just more discreet about it. Perhaps because deep inside, Americans knew it was wrong to treat African Americans as third class citizens so we tried to hide it more. Hitler was right out in the open with his actions.
I listed a few links that I discovered about To Kill A Mocking Bird:
http://www.lausd.k12.ca.us/Belmont_HS... The Student Survivor Guide. - This is amazing it has definitions of the harder words and references to the "Allusions and Idioms" that are used.
http://mockingbird.chebucto.org/ - This talks more about the author and her family.
I’m not going to do my usual thing where I’d try to explain what I liked about this book. Normally, I would try to convince you why you should read it. I would speak about how important this book is and what message it could impart to its readers around the world. I would even say how it affected me personally. Today I’m not going to do that.
Instead, I will simply say that I loved this book. I loved its characters. I loved its plot. And I loved the eloquent way in which Harper Lee wrote it. It made me laugh and it made me cry. Her words are real and her story is truth.
This book is one of the wisest, most finely crafted, pieces of prose fiction I have ever read.
I didn’t want it to ever end.
English (To Kill a Mockingbird) / Italiano
«When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow»Alabama. Early 1930s. The Great Depression. Maycomb, an imaginary town. Tom Robinson (black), falsely accused rapist. Atticus (white), lawyer instructed to represent him. Scout and Jem (white), sons of Atticus. Dill (white), friend of Jem and Scout. Calpurnia (black), maid from Atticus house. Arthur "Boo" Radley (white), mysterious neighbour. Mayella Ewell (white), victim of a sexual assault. Bob Ewell (white), father of Mayella. Take all the elements listed above, add racism, ignorance, humanity, mix them up and you get the masterpiece of Harper Lee.Sponsored even by the former president of USA Barack Obama, the message of the novel gets loud and clear: do the right thing, bravely, at all costs.Vote: 9
«Jem, mio fratello, aveva quasi tredici anni all’epoca in cui si ruppe malamente il gomito sinistro»Alabama. Inizio anni 30. Grande depressione. Maycomb, cittadina immaginaria. Tom Robinson, nero, accusato ingiustamente di stupro. Atticus, bianco, avvocato incaricato di difenderlo. Scout e Jem, bianchi, figli di Atticus. Dill, bianco, amico di Jem e Scout. Calpurnia, nera, domestica al servizio di Atticus. Arthur "Boo" Radley, misterioso vicino di casa. Mayella Ewell, bianca, vittima di stupro. Bob Ewell, bianco, padre di Mayella. Prendete tutti gli elementi elencati, aggiungete il razzismo di alcuni, l'ignoranza di altri, l'umanità di altri ancora, mescolate tutto ed otterrete il capolavoro di Harper Lee.Sponsorizzato finanche dall' ex-presidente degli USA Barack Obama, il messaggio del romanzo arriva forte e chiaro: fai la cosa giusta, a qualunque costo, con coraggio.Voto: 9