Mockingbird still sings sweetly

To Kill a Mockingbird is a rarity among novels: good literature that’s both interesting and easy to read. A best-seller in the U.S., it also won a Pulitzer prize for literature.

The book has two threads. First, is about  the Finch youngsters, Jem and his sister, called Scout, and their summer-vacation pal, Dill. They invent wild plans to lure the town’s recluse, Arthur “Boo” Radley into the open so they can see if he really is a monster.

The town’s older generation has its own monsters. When a black man is accused of raping a white girl, Atticus Finch is appointed to defend him—hardly an enviable position for a white lawyer in 1930s Alabama. His children soon hear the epithet “nigger-lover”—and worse.

From these two threads, Harper Lee weaves a story about what it means to be grown up enough to respect other people who are different from ourselves, whether they are a different color or a different class or just from some other place.

The film version of the book, starring Gregory Peck, faithfully depicts the plot and main theme of the novel, but it cannot possibly show the details and nuances that make the novel a classic.

If you haven’t read the novel in a while, get it out again. It’s definitely worth rereading.

To Kill a Mockingbird
By Harper Lee
Lippincott, 1960
296 pages
1961 bestseller #3
My grade: A

© 2011 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda Aragoni

I read. I write. I think. I make big ideas simple. I help teachers teach expository writing to teens and adults. In my free time, I read and review old novels.

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