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 To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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PostSubject: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee   Sat Jul 09, 2011 9:32 pm

I came to this book fresh because, incredibly, I have yet to see the movie upon which it is based.

I was familiar with the basic storyline. Yet the part I had heard about, where Atticus Finch defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in Alabama in the 1930's, was not nearly as prominent in the book as I thought it would be. Instead the novel was about the lawyer's relationship with his children, Scout and Jem. Which I thought made it a pretty decent book.

The book is told from the first person POV of Scout, the young daughter. And I must say that I love this character. She is earnest and forthright, a tomboy who would just as soon beat up a boy as look at him. I loved her voice throughout this entire novel. She has to deal with a brother who has one foot in adolescence, the disapproval of many of the "ladies" of the town (with the exception of one) who feel she is running too wild and will never grow up to be respectable, and of course the immense and ingrained racism of her Southern town.

This story is told with an honest eye by Harper Lee. She encapsulated the American South as she lived it during this time period. Therefore the "N" word is used early and often. It is so prevalent that the reader almost ceases to notice it after a while. Even Scout uses it, although both her and her father Atticus both agree it is an ugly and "common" word.

Atticus is a character who is the very embodiment of the word "integrity". He treats his children and the townspeople with fairness and equality, and expects the same in return. He defends the accused black man, Tom Robinson, to the best of his abilities, and because he does this instead of just defending him as little as possible, he earns the ire of many of the townsfolk, and the hatred of the family whose daughter is accusing Robinson of rape. Yet he perseveres, and shows his two young children the proper way to go through life. Of course the hatred of the other family, the Ewells, comes to a climax at the end.

There are only two things that I wish could have been expounded upon. One is Boo Radley. For a character that figured so prominently (in absent form) throughout the novel, he doesn't appear until the very end. Granted, this added to the impact of the scene, but I wish his character could have been explored more.

Another character who I think could have been explored more is Atticus himself. I know this story is told first-person by Scout, which would have made it difficult, but we are given tantalizing glimpses into Atticus's past, especially the scene where he shoots a rabid dog coming down the street. There is more to this man than meets the eye, but it is never explored. I thought that was a real shame.

All in all I thought this was a very good book, well worth reading. It is a shame that Harper Lee wrote only this one novel (supposedly just as autobiographical as fictional, but who knows for certain). Still it is recommended.

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PostSubject: Re: To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee   Sun Jul 10, 2011 9:24 pm

I agree about the description of the South. Recently I have read several stories, all taking place in the Southern USA, and "To kill a mockingbird" captures perfectly my (doubtlessly clich├ęd) idea of Southern life. I, however, did not like the plot too much. For the most part, it felt like a description of what my summers were like when I was a child - playing, running around, encountering people. Yes, that is important, but it isn't enough to fill my idea of a capturing tale.

I felt that the trial came in rather late. But when it did - boy, did I have goosebumps. I don't know if it is because I grew up in Germany where we are sort of implanted with a fascist-ideas-detection-system from our infancy, but I tend to react very strongly towards anything racist. I thought this part was absolutely brilliant, and I would have liked to hear about the particulars in greater detail.

So, all in all I'd give it... I don't know, three stars maybe? Smile

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