To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Most of the books I’m required to read in school seem forced and I usually don’t end up enjoying them. However, I relished almost every word in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I realize that it may be one of the most widely-read classics of American —literature, but wanted others my age to learn that they can, in fact, enjoy something if they take it to heart.

The plot revolves around a fictional, Southern town called Maycomb in the 1930s. One reason this book is special is not only that it’s written in the perspective of a white person, it’s also written in the perspective of a child. Scout, a white girl living with her father, Atticus, and her brother, Jem, tells the story of her childhood.

One of the main themes that resonated with me was the innocence and compassion of children growing up. Scout is headstrong and seems to be more boy than girl. As a young girl, she spends most of her days playing with Jem and her neighbor, Dill around their town, and especially around the mysterious Radley house. However, Scout’s father, a lawyer is assigned a new case, and most of the book focuses on how it affects the prejudiced town. Scout learns not everything is black and white, even though most of the citizens of Maycomb think so.

Many may argue that the book is about racism and some argue that racism is only a theme present in the book. I think it was mostly about childhood innocence and the beautiful, innocent perspective of ethics through a child. I saw the book as cleverly written with humorous parts in addition to some beautiful, thought-provoking quotes that I have totally taken to heart.

The one thing in the book that totally changed my life was actually a character: Atticus. Atticus was consistent, compassionate, and extremely wise. More often than not, his expansive vocabulary confused Jem and Scout, but the lessons he verbalizes throughout the book are priceless, usually getting them to come up with opinions of their own. According to the rest of the town, Atticus isn’t raising his children right. But I couldn’t disagree more.

Atticus said, “‘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.”

– Megan A.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available at the Mission Viejo Library.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Taken place in imaginary Maycomb, Alabama in the middle of the Great Depression, racism, prejudice, hypocrisy, innocence and sorrow all integrate in Harper Lee’s profound novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The story is narrated by Jean Louise “Scout” Finch as an adult but the story is solely a memory, told through her eyes as a six year old. Two main story lines are incorporated in this novel; both proving to teach Scout and her brother, Jem, lessons about life’s trials, obstacles and triumphs.

One story line digs deep into the issue of segregation and hatred. While a majority of Scout’s town and schoolmates, all being White, show blunt partiality and disgust towards African Americans in their society, her father, Atticus Finch, must uphold his personal moral responsibilities. He does this proudly and sensibly as he represents a falsely accused African American named Tom Robinson as his defense attorney in a court case. Young Scout learns that courage and bravery is not always fighting with guns but instead, is standing up for what you believe is right, no matter the cost or who stands with you.

The second storyline acts as a form of entertainment and mystery to Scout, Jem and their close friend, Dill, in the beginning of the story. However, by the end of the novel, lessons of acceptance, kindness and ignoring false misconceptions are heeded. A couple doors down from Scout’s house lives a mysterious family named the Radley’s who, despite being White, are discriminated against and have earned a negative reputation for being untrustworthy and abnormal. The three children, particularly interested in the son, Arthur “Boo” Radley, who is rumored to be locked up in the house by his father, play games and create dares in attempt to make him come out of his house. They find this exhilarating until Atticus tells them to stop harassing Boo and that they must respect the Radley’s despite the gossip about them that circulates through the lips of those living in Maycomb. Throughout the book, odd surprises lead the children to come to the conclusion that Boo is kindhearted but too broken to show his compassion like a normal person would.

Overall, Harper Lee does a superb job of utilizing Scout’s innocence and eagerness to explore the world around her to present the audience with a genuine piece of historical fiction that opens up the audience’s mind to topics such as prejudice, coming of age and morality. Harper Lee’s authentic writing style helps readers to understand the issue at hand by making each character quite profound and unique. This book is definitely a must-read for adolescents and adults alike.

-Jessica T.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive and Hoopla

Book vs. Movie: To Kill a Mockingbird

killamockingbird_harperleeAs a required reading book for 9th grade English, I was not too excited to read this novel. All my friends who had already read it said it was great. But to tell you the truth, I did not believe them. For my class, we had to annotate each chapter, and by chapter 2, I was already annoyed with the book.

But please don’t follow my footsteps. This is a great book! I soon found out why. I know others have written reviews on the novel, but as a brief summary, this book is about the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama. Here, Atticus, the father of Jem and Scout, is appointed to defend Tom Robinson, a black man, against the accusation of raping Mayella Ewell. Through the novel, Atticus has to guide his children who are exposed to the racial inequality felt in the south in the 1930s. The children are disgusted by what they see of the real world and look to their father to help make sense of what they experience.

The novel was wildly successful when it was published and made into a movie in 1962, starring Gregory Peck. As part of my English class, we had the opportunity to watch this film in addition to reading the book. To me, the movie and the book both offer great benefits.

Reasons the book is better:

  1. You get to know the characters better, because more description is given, and you read the narrator’s (Scout’s) thoughts.
  2. More emphasis is given to show the separation between whites and blacks in the town.
  3. The book focuses more on the other lessons taught by the novel, incorporating the visit to the Finch’s Landing and the arrival of Aunt Alexandra, whereas the movie eliminates this all together, focusing instead on Tom’s trial and Boo Radley.

Reasons the movie is better:

  1. You see a physical description of Maycomb and its inhabitants, as well as getting a better understanding of the culture in the South.
  2. ***SPOILER***The scenes with Bob Ewell and his confrontation with Atticus and the attack against the children are scarier on screen.
  3. The relationship between Scout, Jem and Atticus is more pronounced, which makes the story more touching.

So it’s up to you…for those of you who have read/watched both the book and the movie, which was better in your opinion? Normally, I would automatically say the book was better. But in this case, I don’t know which one wins in my book.

– Leila S., 9th grade

To Kill A Mockingbird is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library, Overdrive, and Axis360