Book Reviews

To Kill a Mockingbird – A Book Review

The novel To Kill A Mockingbird revolves around a young girl named Jean Louise Finch who goes by the nickname “Scout”. Scout experiences different events in her life that drastically change her life. Scout and her brother Jem are raised by their father, a lawyer named Atticus and a housekeeper named Calpumia in a small southern town. At that time, in the South, racism and discrimination against blacks was a big problem. The story begins when Scout is 6 years old and her brother is about to enter 5th grade. That summer, Scout and her brother meet a young boy named Dill who comes from Mississippi to spend the summers there. They become fascinated with a man named “Boo” Radley, a man in his thirties who has not been seen outside his home in years, mostly due to his repressed upbringing. They get an impression of Mr. Radley as this big, ugly, mean man. Then comes the trial. Scout’s father becomes defense attorney for a black man, Tom Robinson, falsely accused of raping a white woman. This has a big impact on Scout. During this trial, she gets teased by friends because her father was helping this black man. Scout begins to see the racism that exists. During the trial, Scout and his brother and close friend Dill attend the trial. Even though they are young, they can see that Mr. Robinson is innocent. Even though Mr. Robinson’s innocence was clear even to the children, Mr. Robinson was still found guilty. Later, in an attempt to escape, Mr. Robinson is shot. Scout is extremely disappointed with the verdict and even more with Mr. Robinson’s death and realizes the injustice that exists. Later, in a cowardly attempt the rape victims’ alleged father tries to kill Scout and his brother in order to get revenge on his father for getting him back in court. That’s when Mr. Radley reappears and stabs his attacker. Even if Mr. Radley kills a man, he is not tried for murder because he was defending the scout and his brother. Finally some justice. It gives Scout some hope which is a chance for betterment in this unfair world.

(Discussion of main themes in To Kill A Mockingbird)

There are many different themes present in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The first theme I will address is “Prejudice”. The whole story revolved around the prejudices of this southern community. The only reason the trial was taking place was because of people’s views toward black people in the south. Since the father of the alleged rape victim is so prejudiced against black people, he is embarrassed that his daughter is flirting with a black man. To combat this, he falsely accuses the innocent Mr. Robinson of rape. Had it not been for the prejudice that existed in the South, the charge would never have been brought against Mr. Robinson. These prejudices in the south have created a double standard of justice. With all the negatives that can be found in the story when it comes to bias, there was a positive when it comes to the issue of bias. This “ray of light” came in the form of Scout’s father, Atticus. Atticus represented hope. I hope the good people still exist. Even in a society filled with hate. Atticus represented hope that one day things could change

The “Prejudice” theme also fits well with the book title “To Kill A Mocking Bird”. In Chapter 10, Scout and Jem Finch receive air rifles for Christmas. The Boy Scouts father tells him and his brother that it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because mockingbirds are harmless creatures that only sing for our pleasure. In the story To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Robinson is clearly the “Mocking Bird”. He is a good man who has never harmed anyone and is literally and figuratively put down by society because of prejudice. The jurors sentence him to death not because he did anything wrong but because of prejudice. He is then shot for trying to escape this unfair decision. Mr. Robinson, like a mockingbird, is shot for no reason.

The second theme I will talk about is “adulthood”. The “Coming of age” theme essentially involves a character evolving into a new level of self-awareness through their experiences in life. This is clearly the case with Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. An example of Scout’s “coming of age” can be seen when she meets her friend Dill. Dill comes from a broken home and lives somewhere beyond Alabama. A Scout who comes from a good home is awakened to the different quality of life that exists and is able to conclude that life exists beyond the world she knows. Through these experiences, she becomes more tolerant of others, learning to “step into another person’s shoes and walk around in them.” On her first day of school, she finds that, just like with Dill, there are both social and poor classes in society, some are respectable and some are not. She also learns that her father is an extraordinary man, fighting for the rights of a Negro in court. During Tom Robinson’s trial, Scout learns about equality and inequality and finally racial prejudice. In the final chapters of the novel, Scout moves on to another “coming of age experience”. She learns that good people can still experience injustice. She realizes this when she sees Tom Robinson suffering from injustice even though he did nothing to deserve it. She discovers that the courts do not always lead to justice. Ultimately, after all of Scout’s experiences and discoveries, we have a feeling that she won’t follow the prejudices that her society upholds. Ultimately, Scout had matured and grown more as a child than many adults will in their lifetime.

The third and final theme I will address is “Justice”. In the story To Kill a Mockingbird I Feel, author Ms. Lee describes true justice as best seen through the eyes of the innocent. In the story, Scout and his brother, being innocent, can clearly see the injustice done to Mr. Robinson. Unlike Scout and his brother, other people in society, specifically the old town people, people who have had different experiences, go blind when it comes to true justice. Or maybe they’re not blindsided but just choose to ignore it. This is clearly seen when they sentence an innocent man to death. This ignorance of justice can be attributed to the prejudices that are present and possibly inculcated in southern society. So I feel like Harper Lee links justice to innocence to some degree. In my view, Harper Lee portrays justice as easily detectable. The reason I say this is even the young judge. The problem is that society can instill beliefs that can act as a veil and blind people to justice. The only way to discover this veil is through people like Atticus who can pass on his morality and nobility to the young and the “blind”.

(Would I recommend this book?)

I would definitely recommend people read the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I found it to be an interesting and powerful book. I think the book does a great job of describing the extreme prejudices that existed in the South at that time. I think this book makes a powerful statement about how justice can be altered by racism. I also think that the themes that we find in the book are themes that we still find in our current society and that makes it all the more interesting. You can even argue that prejudice still has an effect in our legal system today. So if you’re looking for a powerful book about “the majority” and the battle for justice, I highly recommend Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

Leave A Reply