Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My thoughts on To Kill a Mockingbird

I'm running the risk of sounding like a broken record, but I don't know how else to phrase this: how on earth did I miss all of these wonderful books when I was in school? I was in honors classes in high school. I have to admit to not liking those classes because I never understood the focus on "symbolism" and "what the author REALLY means". But what books did we actually read anyway? And why didn't we read some of these classics? Oh well, since I home educate my children I will make certain that they are exposed to these wonderful books! :)

I thoroughly enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird. The beginning was slow for me as I struggled to figure out what on earth was going on and who was narrating. It was funny as the picture in my mind (that's how books work for me - it's like a movie running in my head) started out so fuzzy and then it started to clear up as I was getting a grip on who the book included! The funniest part was when it dawned on me that Scout was, in fact, a girl! ;)

The language was hard to read, the "n" word especially. It may have been a bit easier if I had been able to picture more clearly the time period. It wasn't until the end of the book where it's made clear that this was 1935, though looking back I saw references to the depression. While I was reading, I wasn't sure if this was the 50s and it was just a poor area in the rural southern part of Alabama. But that's what makes books interesting, I guess, when the reader isn't given all of the information! That's something I'd like to try to do as I begin working on my next novel for NaNoWriMo in November!

I knew I was going to love this book when I hit chapter 2 and Scout went to school and the teacher told her to tell her father to stop teaching her how to read. And Jem explained that it was in "the colleges" (the flashing words on cards at them). And then Atticus making the deal with Scout to continue on in school and he would continue on reading to them at night, as long as she promised not to tell anyone about it! :)

The story overall took a much different direction than I was expecting, which is always exciting. I was certain that Boo Radley was going to come out and hurt one of the kids. Then when the trial took over, I sort of forgot about Boo Radley and was worried about all of the angry people in the town. I was really afraid Jem was going to be killed, or maybe Dill, since I figured Scout was safe as narrator. When the kids were coming home that night and they heard the noise, I was absolutely terrified and full of dread. And then Boo Radley saved them! Kind of proves my belief that you never know what's going on in other people's homes... things may seem to look bad on the outside, but you just never know.

Of course, after having finished the book, it makes the beginning of the first chapter finally make some sense! And I actually did get a little of the "symbolism" if you will about the title "To Kill a Mockingbird" when Atticus tells Jem it's a sin to kill a mockingbird with his air gun. And then "they" end up killing Tom Robinson, who was gentle and unable to really defend himself. I was pretty proud of myself for getting that! :)

Well, it's time to get supper on the table so I can head out to the IRL version of Bella's Bookshelf so we can discuss this wonderful book! Would love to read your thoughts, too!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird: A Summary

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
published 1960

Scout and Jem Fitch live in Maycomb, Alabama in 1935. They are being raised by their father, Atticus, a lawyer, with the help of Calpurnia, an African-American lady. One summer, Atticus is assigned to defend Tom Robinson, an African-American man, against charges that he raped and beat Mayella Ewell, a young caucasian woman. The children find themselves dealing with the prejudiced attitudes of friends and family, but Atticus requires them to turn the other cheek. Despite the lack of anything but circumstantial evidence and the words of 3 caucasian witnesses, the jury finds Tom guilty and sentence him to death. That doesn't mean the end of the trouble for the Fitch family, as Mr. Ewell is determined to "get back" at Atticus. He nearly accomplishes his goal, but the children find assistance from a most unexpected source.

(OK, I've been working on this summary all morning and just cannot come close to expressing how wonderful this book is... I guess I'll have to save that for the "my thoughts" post.)

Please note: there is bad language and adult situations in this book. If you're younger than high school age, please check with your parents before reading To Kill a Mockingbird. I plan to have my daughter read it when she's studying the early 1900s time period in high school.