Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is a story of two children’s growing understanding of the double standards of the world. It’s also the story of a small community struggling to come together during the economic era of the Great Depression and the political upheaval of a mixed racial pre-Civil Rights southern town. It is full of wonderful words of wisdom, thanks to wise lawyer Atticus Finch and his young children, Scout and Jem.
“Mockingbird” equals innocent. So many characters in the book are the mockingbirds of the title – Scout and Jem, Tom Robinson and his wife, Boo Radley, the Jews in Germany, the blacks in Maycomb. I think even young Dill is a mockingbird, seeking for his own place.
The double standard for the different mockingbirds goes back to Scout’s observation:
“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.” (chapter 23)
At age six and later at age eight, she struggles to understand why people are so mean to each other. The ever-wise Atticus reminds us that “most people are [nice], Scout, when you finally see them” (chapter 31), an echo of his previous counsel.
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. (chapter 3)
Atticus the lawyer reminds us what integrity and what courage is as he stands up in a very public way to defend one of the accused “mockingbirds” in the town of Maycomb.
[Courage is] when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. (Chapter 11)
Atticus know what will happen in the end, but he still tries. He’s an example for us all.
The book about his courage is still a favorite for me. I recall that on my last reread, I was most interested in Scout and so was disappointed by the movie, which focused on Jem and Atticus. On this reread, I was inspired by Atticus and Jem. I love how everytime I read a wonderful book like this one, I see something different.
What was your favorite aspect of To Kill a Mockingbird on your last read?
Note: Cover image from Harper’s 50th anniversary edition, which I own. I received it from Paperback Swap.