I knew I was reading a classic. And I also knew for a particular generation this was a typical highschool book to read. But I did not expect the range of “I read that book, good book” or “The ending is so sad” or “…it is such a topical story…have you seen the movie”. Firstly I was excited about reading a book that was part of my ‘bucket list’ but halfway through my motivation began to fall due to the numerous comments. I drifted into periods of ‘I can’t be bothered’ to moments of ‘I know what happens anyway’. However, I was determined to finish. And I did. And although the ending was as everyone said, it also had a surprising resolution.
So what did I think about this book?
People annoy me. People frustrate me. People are unkind.
Although the world has changed since the 1930′s, the mean people of that time are still here, among us.
Sure, you meet a few good people in this world. Those that are happy to give a seat to an older gentlemen on the bus, who will pick up spilt groceries or coins on the ground for someone who dropped them in a moments weakness and perhaps someone will let you have that parking spot.
Today we live in a world where you can no longer help a lady put her luggage in the overhead cabins of a plane in case it falls on someone and you could be sued. No longer is the truth an acceptable answer if it is not wrapped in cotton wool and has a giant red bow of caution on top. And we still walk down the street holding our handbags when we see a man in the opposite direction with a beanie on, Adidas track suit walking quickly our way.
We all do it. In our own ways. Pass judgement. Be ignorant to needs of others. And simply hide the truth for the sake of not hurting someone until it is too late.
But this book gave me faith again. The innocent minds of Scout, Jem and Dill gave insight into the influential minds of children and the importance of leading by example (thank goodness for men like Atticus Finch). The children in this story were the reason I kept reading. Their curiosity, sense of adventure and genuine care for family, friends and mankind drew me into the lives of the Finch’s + 1. Racism, prejudice and injustice were the heavy topics explored in this book and done so cleverly by Lee through the use of using Scout Finch, the young protagonist, to tell the story. Although the heat of the book didn’t formally start until half way through, the book maintained interest by the smaller stories within the main. The quest to discover the truth of who Boo Radley really is or isn’t, unfolding the history of Maycomb and our neighbours: Friend or Foe?
Harper Lee should be congratulated. Not only for the story but the language. The language changed in each character according to their background, race and gender. There was a unique Southern voice in each of Lee’s characters that gave depth and originality.
So what do we learn from this book?
We know all men are not created equal in the sense of some people who have us believe – some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they’re born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others – some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of most men. But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal – there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of Einstein and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court. ~pg 223
But in the case of Tom Robinson, we should remember….
Gentlemen, a court is no better than each man of you sitting before me on this jury. A court is only as sound as its jury, and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up. ~224
So what man will you be next time you have to sit in a jury and pass judgement?
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. ~pg 31