For the first time, I am writing a full fledged book review. So, if I make any mistake or my opinions contradict with yours, I apologise in advance for that. But I believe exposure to a broad spectrum of different opinions enriches a book as well as a reviewer. So, feel free to express your thoughts in the comments section.
The love for classics perpetuates across readers of all generations. So, I decided to review a very popular classical novel in English literature : To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Thoughts before reading :
Previously, I read that this novel is a hugely popular creation of American literature, and has made its place in school level textbooks. So, I expected it to be simple yet subtly moralistic. And I must say, the novel quenched my expectations.
My Review :
The novel revolves around Scout, a white girl living with her father Atticus Finch, brother Jem and cook-cum-mentor Calpurnia, who gradually gets to know about the unfair social and racial discriminations everywhere as she grows up. Scout tells the story of her life and people around her while she grows from six years to nine years old.
The novel being written from her point of view, deals with issues as strong as racism and casteism tactfully. But, if viewed critically, the novel doesn’t do complete justice to them. It’s fair to consider them being prejudiced on certain occasions. But it’s completely okay if you read it without expecting explicitly fair morals on variety of social discriminations and accept the characters with their merits and flaws.
I loved the trio of Scout, Jem and their friend Dill. The author built a beautiful simplicity and innocence around them, which evokes admiration. The way they play, and become adventurous by trying to sneak into the house of their secretive, reclusive neighbour Boo Radley is nicely portrayed.
Atticus Finch, father of Jem and Scout, is a lawyer, and though he is emotionally overrated for being a saviour (I won’t spoil it for you), does sufficient justice to the role of a parent. I loved how clearly he explains things like abuse to children and doesn’t confuse them with meaningless tales, unlike other adults. Many criticised his character for not being vocal about the extremely unfair racist practices in fields of education and employment, but I don’t think one should expect his character to be a perfect one. I didn’t feel the need to attach heroic glory to Atticus’ role, so I wasn’t extremely disappointed.
I loved the character of Calpurnia. Her motherly affection for Jem and Scout forms beautiful part of the novel. And it’s clear that Calpurnia meant much more than a cook for the Finch family. Calpurnia plays a very important role in the novel which I don’t want to spoil for you.
Many tend to focus more on the court case in the novel, how a white man falsely accused an innocent black man, Tom Robinson for a violent crime he never committed. Everywhere on the web, plot summaries emphasise on it, but actually, the court case isn’t everything in the novel. But definitely, it is the part which fetched criticism for being one-sided. There is nothing told from the point of view of Tom Robinson. It’s unfortunate that we never get to know him properly.
I think it’s better to summarise the plot as a white child gradually learning about the existence of racial discriminations in the society. To avoid spoiling, I won’t talk much about the other characters who shaped the course of the novel.
Verses worth quoting :
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
“You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat. Try fightin’ with your head for a change.”
On the whole, the novel was beautifully written and Scout’s view point was exceptionally well-portrayed. It definitely becomes a good read for its simplicity. But it’s better not to expect unprejudiced stand on racism from it.
If you haven’t read the book, you should definitely read it and let me know about your reviews. This post is not affiliated, you can go ahead and check out the book in Amazon.
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