- “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
To Kill a Mockingbird
I think almost everyone has read or heard of To Kill a Mockingbird. I think most people now have read it because of a class they took at some point in their educational career, or because it’s a classic and it’s one of those books you feel you need to read. Because of these reasons, I’m not going to do a traditional review; I’m going to tell you my experience reading this book for the first time as an adult.
I was never required to read this book at any school I went to. Not one. Thinking back on this, I find that very strange. I’ve never seen the movie, but the knowledge I had about this book was based off the movie. I knew there was a big trial that involved a white man defending a black man for something he didn’t do. I had it in my head that that is what the story was about: a court room drama revolved around racism and prejudices.
I was pretty wrong about that. I didn’t even know the book was told in Scout’s perspective. (I was pretty ignorant about this book.) I started the book, and I was pretty much immediately engrossed in the story. However, because of my limited knowledge of the book, I was just waiting on this court scene. I wasn’t becoming impatient, I just knew that this was supposed to happen in the book and wanted to read about it. When I finally got to it, I was surprised by how a small of a part it had in the story. It was still very intense reading all of the testimonies and waiting on the jury’s decision, but the actual scene wasn’t a major part of the overall story. It’s the actions and response of the community before and after the trial that make up this story.
I loved reading the dynamics of this town and the people that make it up, even if they were horrible people. Everyone is pretty much set in their ways and won’t budge on their beliefs. “This is how I was raised, this is how I will raise my children, and this is how I will die. No regrets.” That was definitely the mentality before the trial, but then after the trial, things start to change and people start seeing how they were living wasn’t exactly conducive to a good environment. There are those that will never change, but I enjoyed reading about some of the small things that changed with people in the town. those small things add up.
What I really enjoyed was reading about the people in the town that weren’t who you thought they were. They made me giggle because they all came out to be so different than what we were told by Scout. We learned right along with her. This goes with one of the major themes in the novel: prejudice. If we continue to prejudge people, how are we to ever really get to know someone? You never know, they just may surprise you.
I want to talk about the Finch family briefly. Atticus may be one of, if not best, adult characters I’ve read. The way he taught his children lessons without being patronizing and let them experience life was so so great. He was always there to answer their questions and protect them. I loved how curious Scout and Jem were. I never felt that their questions were directed in a mean way. They literally wanted to know why things were the way they were. My heart ached for Jem who was really seeing how the world worked at that time. I loved his angry, empathy, disdain, and curiosity. Scout was still a bit naive about the big picture, but she was young. However, for as young as she was, she was incredibly inquisitive about what was happening in her world. She did have her own revelations that were just as important as Jem’s. Her world became larger just as Jem’s did.
I can’t wait to re-read this novel. Now that I know it’s not a courtroom drama, I think I will enjoy it even more. I love stories like this because they are still SO relevant today, and I think they always will be. These are the stories that teach us. As I get older and my reading tastes change, these are the kind of books I want to read. I want to learn and grow as a human. I don’t want to settle and say “that’s just the way things are”.
AND!!!! Don’t forget the sequel, Go Set a Watchman, comes out on Tuesday, July 14!!!!!