Oddly, I’d never read To Kill a Mockingbird when I was a high school student. Nor had I ever seen the film version with Gregory Peck. Somehow I was lucky enough to avoid learning the plot of the famous story until I decided to pick the book up one day and read it cover to cover in one day.
I sank into Harper Lee’s only novel not knowing what to expect. And I was certainly not disappointed. I was also not discouraged by the slow movement of the first few chapters. Jean-Louise Finch, better known as Scout, is the protagonist of the story (with the keen eye of an adult looking back on a childhood rich with incidents that shaped who she has become. Her adventures with her older brother Jem, and their exiguous friend Dill (his real name being Charles Baker Harris. “Your name’s longer’n you are,” Jem points out) evoke the timeless place of childhood.
Dill set the stage for the entire story to unfold. He encourages Jem and Scout to begin a quest to seek out the infamous Boo Radley who, naturally, turns out to be nothing like you’d expect. It takes a tremendous amount of talent for an author to be able to develop two plots for a book. As Harper Lee begins it is with the journey of the young Finch children through Maycomb, and she gracefully builds up the story of the trial that will change the feel of the entire story and build up to a well thought out and perfectly planned ending to a phenomenal story.
As for Atticus Finch (I certainly didn’t forget about him), what can one say about a Pulitzer Prize winning father who seems to embody the greatest of virtues? He is tolerant, patient, kind, and understanding. He does not meddle with his children’s affairs, he always speaks to them as his equals, as fellow adults (he even allows them to call him “Atticus”), and his infamous skill as a lawyer is legendary. Lee presents Atticus in a tough and sensitive manner, so that his believability is paramount.
This novel is, and always will be, a must read for any age. This legendary classic is one that is recognized by everyone, even those who have never read it show some familiarity with the timeless, ever-popular characters.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is….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.”