To Kill a Mockingbird: Afterthoughts on a Reread

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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.

Reviewed on June 2, 2011

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • But you’ve made me nostalgic for this book. Thanks for the touching review. I read it a long time ago. For me, it’s the characterization of Scout, just precious.

  • I need to reread this. I was appalled that in my son’s freshmen English class they divided up into groups and each group only had to read one section and then they all came together to discuss it rather than having each student just read the whole thing. Why butcher such a great novel? I told him to read the whole thing before they started this madness, and made sure he takes Honors English next year!

  • My favorite part of To Kill a Mockingbird the last time I read it was the scene where Jem and Scout go to see Atticus at the jail. Atticus is such a good parent and a good person, and I always get a little teary when he explains everything to Scout. Also, I always remember how beautifully Gregory Peck played it in the film. Love.

  • I don’t know how many times I’ve read the book, there’s so much to admire about it. I particularly love the way Boo the ‘bogey-man’ of the neighbourhood is seen in a completely different light at the end and becomes a hero. Things could have been very different for him if he hadn’t been born into an abusive family.

    • Nicki » I am an avid rereader. I’d be curious to know why you don’t reread? Too many unread books out there? I love how a great book means something different when read at a different time in my life.

      • I’ve become an avid reader as well, however, I’ve only been a serious adult reader for the past several years, so yes, the reason you mentioned is what holds me back from engaging in too much rereading just yet. I get what I call “reader’s panic” – the realization that there are so many great books out there tugging at me to be read. I think that once I have a larger number of them under my belt I’ll be able to relax into rereading more often.

  • I am reading this masterpiece right NOW for the 1st time – have seen the movie of course. What bothers me is that as the seasons pass Jem is always nearly 13 & scout is not yet 9…

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