I don’t know what I expected when I started to read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. I managed to completely miss this book in my formative years, despite minoring in English in university. My grade nine teacher decided we should read The Outsiders instead, and then I changed schools and they had already moved on to other books. But we can’t fault her for preferring The Outsiders – it was my first exposure to books wherein people faught and swore and it meant we got to watch Soda Pop’s shower scene in class (I’ve included it at the bottom of this post for you too, because I’m nice like that).
Back to TKAM. I think I always lumped it into the pile with the other ‘classics you should have read but didn’t’ and ignored it for eternity. This was a mistake. This book is wonderful, and another reason why I’m so happy about my decision to continue on with The List. I don’t know that I ever would have read this book otherwise.
The character of Atticus Finch is, to me, one of the most genuinely good characters I have ever come across. The more Lee develops Atticus, the more I come to believe that he is the archetypal Good Man. He is fantastic, and should come up more often as an example to be followed (disclaimer: I haven’t finished the book yet so should he do something to destroy my opinion of his character, I will be crushed and will revise the way I see him, through tears and ice cream).
I’ve read up to the beginning of the trial at this point. Here’s where I’m at: the whole entire plot has built me up to desperately want Tom to be innocent. He has to be innocent? Right? Because if he’s innocent then Atticus is good, and racism is bad. It’s clean. All of my emotions have been clearly guided to be on Tom’s side, and they are. I want to make posters that read “Free Tom” and stand in front of the court house. I want to guard the jailhouse with Atticus to protect Tom from violent mobs. I’m all riled up!
I’m aware that I haven’t mentioned Scout and Jem much in this post, and they are the main protagonists in the story. I can hear you now “How can she post about TKAM and NOT mention the children? WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??” I’ll talk about them in my next post, okay? Promise. I have much to say on the topic of children eating mystery gum out of a tree.
In closing, I love it when an author can make you care about the characters in a book, because that’s when you can get lost in its world, and that’s what makes reading worthwhile.
Gratuitous shower scene: