To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird is based, in part, on memories from Harper Lee’s own childhood and is set in 1930s Alabama. This is a book that has won the Pulitzer Prize. This is a book that I read in high school; however, I remembered little about the story except the characters names and that it delt with racism. This is a book that many seem to count among one of their favorites. I certainly liked it, but I wasn’t necessarily blown away. I liked how the novel read like a slow southern summer. I loved the kind of man Atticus Finch was and the example he set for his children. I loved the story of Boo Radley and the person he turned out to be. And, I have to give Harper Lee credit. It took moxie to write and publish (in 1960) a book dealing with racism (and class and gender issues) in the south.


I can’t really put my finger on why this was only a so-so read for me. Maybe because I had already learned the moral of the story long, long ago. Maybe because the African American characters felt under-developed. Maybe it arose from the distaste I felt for some of those in the story. For example, I knew long before the verdict that Tom Robinson’s jury would never acquit him … either because of their prejudices or because they simply would not have the guts. I am always bothered when our system of justice fails … when the innocent go to jail or when the guilty go free. This brings me to a question for you: Did you agree with how the Sheriff chose to handle the death of Bob Ewell?

 “I’m not a very good man, sir, but I am sheriff of Maycomb County. Lived in this town all my life an’ I’m goin’ on forty-three years old. Know everything that’s happened here since before I was born. There’s a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it’s dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. Let the dead bury the dead.”

Me? I was giving him a high-five in my mind for protecting Boo Radley after he saved the Finch children, but others may not agree.

The moral of the story is certainly a strong one and the reason why I think this novel should be taught in schools:

“An’ they chased him ‘n’ never could catch him ’cause they didn’t know what he looked like, an’ Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things … Atticus, he was real nice …”

His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me.

“Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”

Harper Lee 1926-

Favorite Quotes:

“There are just some men who-who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one …” – Miss Maudie

“As you grow older you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it-whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.” – Atticus to Jem

“Jem, how can [people] hate Hitler so bad an’ then turn around and be ugly about folks right at home?” – Scout

“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks. ” – Scout