My students are given the opportunity to blog about the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die for extra credit. The following is an extra credit post received by Kay Dale, who originally read the book during her sophomore year in high school. Kay is now attending Jefferson Community and Technical College to become an RN. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To Kill A Mockingbird is not a book about mockingbirds. Although, mockingbirds are to be treasured, preserved, and respected. I believe the author was trying to convey to the reader, we should all as human beings treat one another at the very least as decently as we would a mockingbird, regardless of race, color, religious beliefs, I.Q., or creed. . To Kill a Mockingbird addresses many issues, the discovery of love and respect for a father, the ideas of preconceived perceptions of people can be wrong, and the horrible fact of evil that lives among the heart of racism. The book deals with honor, dignity, love, compassion, bravery, integrity, truth, betrayal, deceit and unfortunately injustice.
I was captivated by the narration through the eyes of a rambunctious, mischievous, nine year old southern tomboy girl. I loved the way she spoke and the innocence of her views. The sense of adventure that was within everything she saw and did.
The main characters are; Scout (the narrator), Jem (Scouts older brother). A tree, a character all its own. As you read you wonder what treasures will the tree hold this time.” Boo” Radley ,a strange mysterious neighbor. Mr. Atticus Finch, Scout and Jem’s Father, who is a well known respected lawyer in their small town community. Tom Robinson, a soft spoken gentle black handyman. Mayell Violet Ewell (a young white girl), and Bob Ewell (Mayell Violet’s father ).
The story takes place in the 1950′s, prior to the civil rights movement, in a southern community of Maycomb. Mr.Atticus Finch is a widower, a single father of two, Jem and Scout. They live in the south. Mr. Atticus Finch has a black housekeeper, Calpurnia, who takes care of the children and runs the household (as was customary at that time). The story begins quite innocently with a mysterious tree where the children discover goodies stored within periodically. The problem is the tree is on the property of a very dark strange neighbors house , the neighbor is Boo Radley, who makes it a challenge for the children to overcome their fears of the eerie surroundings to acquire the treats. Scout, Jem and Dill, a cousin visiting from out of town, must figure out who, when and why, the treasures keep appearing. Their curiosity is peaked and a full blown mystery investigation ensues. They have heard many rumors about Boo Radley, none of which are good. So the children embark on a way to entice their neighbor, Boo Radley, to come out of his secluded house so they can get a glimpse of him.
A twist in the plot distracts the reader from the childhood wonder and mystery straight into the realism of life when a black man is accused of beating and raping a white woman. Mr. Atticus Finch decides to defend the young black man to the chagrin of his peers and community. During the trial the segregation and prejudice becomes more apparent. Mr. Finch and the children are treated with ridicule and hatred. Mr. Finch proves without a shadow of a doubt to the reader, that Mr. Tom Robinson is indeed innocent. Unfortunately, the fate of Mr. Robinson is not that transparent.
Throughout the rest of the story, Scout witnesses the good, the bad, and the ugly, in human beings behavior and treatment of one another. The heartwarming talks that take place between Mr. Finch and his children where he conveys reasons why he must do what he is doing and how Tom Robinson deserves to be represented fairly. The compassion, integrity ,and strength that Mr. Finch shows the children by his example of calm, mature behavior among all the chaos is exactly what endears the reader to him. The children witness the bravery and hardships their father endures with dignity.
Also, there is an incident where an uncontrolled rabid dog is wondering through the town threatening the physical safety of the towns people. Mr. Atticus Finch is challenged with physical bravery to react, take up arms and save the well being of his family and the townspeople. Scout and Jem again see how their father handled crisis and through his example learns their fathers true character. There are many other twists and turns that take place within the rich characters created by Mrs. Harper Lee, the author, but I don’t want to tell you everything .You must learn the interesting outcomes when you read the book.
To Kill A Mockingbird is a must read at any age from teenage years to 100 years of age. It exemplifies the hatred and ignorance within prejudices, the goodness in fatherhood ,and the love of family. As a reader we can empathize with all the realms of emotions and strength it takes to endure adversity and conflict. Even though the book shows the disappointing behavior of human beings it is an overwhelming testimony for the good in people and why the integrity within yourself is what makes you hold your head up high every day.
Thanks, Kay, for introducing us to this wonderful book. Happy Reading!