Monday, May 16, 2011

To Kill A Mockingbird

This book has been on my to-read list for years, so thanks to everyone who voted for it to be our first online book club selection. 

If you have never read the book before, you can find a summary HERE. (Spoiler alert if you are in the middle of it!) I wish I could say I find it hard to believe that such things could ever take place, but the fact is they did - and do. There are many parallels between the trial of Tom Robinson in the book and the Scottsboro trial in Alabama, and bigotry and prejudice are still very much alive in this world, especially in the rural south. Click HERE for some historical background information on the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, narrated by "Scout" Finch, six years old when the novel begins. I love Scout for her insightfulness and courage; I love her father, Atticus, for his wisdom and his unconditional acceptance of her and her brother Jem. A glimpse into what it was like growing up in rural Alabama in the 1930's, the work transcends time and explores timeless issues: good versus evil, social equality, racism, education. For example, as a former home schooling parent, I was struck by how much Scout despised school, and with good reason. Still, she learned to play the "game," although the most important lessons she learned took place outside the school building. 

This book left me with a clearer understanding of several truths:
  • There are both good and evil tendencies inside each of us.
  • Challenging circumstances can help us to become our best selves.
  • Innocence is precious and must be protected.
I marked dozens of quotes as I was reading in this book, but here are a couple of my favorites.

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's 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. (Atticus, Chapter 11) 

She seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl. (Scout, Chapter 12)

Tell me a little bit about your experience with To Kill A Mockingbird. Did you love it? Hate it? Who were your favorite characters and why? What did you take away from this book?

# # #

Please leave your comments at the end of this post, and then pop over to Petit Fours and Hot Tamales, where I am blogging about reading today. What a coincidence!


Melissa Marsh said...

This is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it in junior high, again in high school, and again sometime after college. I took away more and more meaning every time.

I love Atticus - such a noblel man in the midst of a tumultuous time. And seeing the world through Scout's eyes is such a treat.

Carol Burnside aka Annie Rayburn said...

Atticus Finch. There's something intrinsically sexy about a man who fights for the underdog with such conviction and despite the odds.

eric said...

I've seen the movie a couple of times and was always a fan, but hadn't read the book until now. Unsurprisingly, I LOVE the book.

I love Atticus; he is a great role model and I can only aspire to be half the man he is. I love Scout for her innocent perspective of the events that unfold in the book.

Some of my favorite highlights

- I loved the quote you mentioned about courage.

- I was tickled at Reverend Sykes not letting the congregation go until they collected enough for Tom's wife.

- I loved the ongoing repetition of Atticus's "dangerous question" ... Do you really think so? and It's not time to worry yet ...

- One line that evoked childhood memories for me was when Scout, Jem and Dill snuck out to go to the jail, and Scout said "Jem's got the look-arounds," an affliction Calpurnia said all boys caught at his age. It reminded me of when I was "that age", and the times I used to have insomnia and sneak out of the house late and night in the summers and "look-around" the empty streets of Mt. Carmel. :) Shhh! Don't tell Mom and Dad!

- I loved that Mr. Raymond's drink in a brown paper bag was unadulterated Coca Cola.

- Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin' Gave me the same goosebumps as when I see it in the movie.

- Naw, Jem. I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks.

- Mrs. Merriweather nodded wisely. Her voice soared over the clink of coffee cups and the soft bovine sounds of the ladies munching their dainties.

- Miss Maudie: Whether Maycomb knows it or not, we're paying the highest tribute we can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It's that simple.

- After Scout walked Arthur home: As I made my way home, I thought Jem and I would get grown but there wasn't much else for us to learn, except possibly algebra.

I could go on and on ... but I guess I already have.

Thanks for giving me an excuse to finally take the time to read this book :)

Pam Asberry said...

Melissa, I can see that this is a book that will be worth re-reading. Atticus and Scout are amazing. Now I'm ready to watch the movie!

Pam Asberry said...

Yes, Carol, and he's the perfect age for me. Well, at least he was at the time the book was written - LOL!

Pam Asberry said...

Wow, Eric. Thanks for your comments and all the quotes you shared. Hopefully Mom and Dad won't read my blog today or you're BUSTED! ;-) It was fun reading a book with you. We'll have to do it again soon!

KendallGrey said...

I've never read To Kill a Mockingbird, but I know I should. I love books that reveal universal truths like this. And the quote you posted: "It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what." MAN, that sure does say a lot, doesn't it? You can generalize this one to just about every aspect of life, including writing. Wow.

Pam Asberry said...

Kendall, I highly encourage you to read this book. You will love it. Not only is it beautifully crafted, it is an amazing story. Once I got started, I got hardly put it down! And I love the way you applied that quote to writing. It's a little depressing, but quite realistic. Thanks for stopping by!

eric said...

So, I watched the movie again last night, and realized that although I thought I had, I have never actually seen it all the way through from beginning to end.

And while I still think its a good movie, I kept noticing all the little things that were left out or changed slightly. Though, overall, it was a pretty faithful adaptation.

As usual, the book is still better. :)