To Kill A Mockingbird
‘Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’
A lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.
Let me start off by saying that I did enjoy their book, it’s well written and the characters are engaging. At the same time, though, I was disappointed by it; the story is far lighter than I expected from everything I had heard about the book, and the trial being dealt with by Atticus Finch, the focus of so much of the talk, is far enough away from the focus it’s a struggle to call it the backdrop.
This billed as a complex and slightly controversial story about the trial of a black man accused of raping a white woman, and maybe when it was first released that’s how it was seen, and I suspect there are a number of people, like me, who have read the book expecting one thing and found it to be another. For me it’s a story about how two siblings and a new friend spend their summer, and that’s fine because it’s enjoyable, but it’s not what I was after.
If you’re thinking of reading this expecting a real American classic, prepare to be disappointed, but if you’re just after a good read, go for it.