To Kill a Mockingbird

Wednesday, July 31

Over on a book blog I read, Adam of Roof Beam Reader hosted a read-along of this American Classic. Like everyone in America I read this book in the 10th grade for my English class.

via Barnes and Noble
Unlike seemingly everyone in the world, I did not enjoy the book. At all. I honestly don't remember why I had such a distaste for this book. Probably because I'm one of THOSE people who like to hate things that everyone else loves. Just call me April Ludgate, guys.

Via Tumblr
This gif is me after reading this book for the second time, finally, after years and years of false hatred. This book is so gentle and so lovely and so so important. If you haven't read this book for yourself and not for school, go do that. Seriously. These words will live and breathe inside you.

As I started rereading this book I remembered little snatches of the story from my first time reading it but it was so fun to see the stories of Scout and Jem and Boo intertwine with the happenings in the town. This book says so much about us and who we are. It's about the loss of innocence and also staying innocent in the face of horrible adversity. 

I remember feeling that the narration was rather dry on my first read through of this book. This time around, I thought nothing of the sort. It's been a while since a book kept me up late at night reading because I could so vividly see the world these characters were in. Since I could see these people grow and change and fight. It was so nice to feel excited to read a book like this. 

So. Before I get overrun with my gushing love for this book, let's get a brief plot review. Scout and Jem, brother and sister live in the small sleep Southern town called Maycomb. The book begins with older Scout, the narrator of the book, reminiscing about the time Jem had his arm badly broken at the elbow when he was 13. The two can't agree on what started the trouble leading to his accident but Jem assures her that it started the summer Dill came to town and the obsession with Boo Radley began. 

Part one of this book concentrates on the childhood of Jem and Scout when they were 10 and 6, respectively. Dill came to them that summer and they spent their time playing make believe about the mysterious Boo Radley who always remained in his house. Atticus, their father, and also one of the most attractive men in literature, works as a lawyer, Scout starts school, someone begins leaving the children gifts inside of an old tree, and the case of Atticus's lifetime lands at his feet. Atticus is to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a girl in the town. 

Part two consists of the incredibly unjust trial of Tom Robinson, a trial that tries the conscience of the entire town. He is clearly innocent, but he is also black, a far worse crime than rape. As the verdict is decided, Bob Ewell, the victim's father swears to get Atticus if it's the last thing he does. The climax of the story comes on Halloween when Jem and Scout are attacked, resulting in Jem's broken arm. If not for the gallant rescue by a mysterious friend, the children would have been killed for nothing more than living. But it's a sin to kill a mockingbird. 

That was the briefest of summaries but guys, sentences are hard with this book. I have too much to say. This book captivated and enchanted me and I loved these characters. As I'm short on time and words, I'll just hit a few points that really stuck with me. 

First. The mockingbirds. This book is full of mockingbirds. 

"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. they don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."

Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, Scout and Jem. They are all little mockingbirds. I adored the way each character was related to a mockingbird and how sweet they all were. They were all childlike in their way and it was gorgeous. Near the end of the book when Scout related Boo to a mockingbird after the broken arm incident. I can't with this book. Crying for days.

Second. I loved how the first half of this book consisted of little lessons that ultimately became so important during the Robinson trial. A lot of these lessons related to judging people before knowing them and trying to see things from the perspective of others. 

I love the section of the story concerning Mrs. Dubose and her morphine addiction. Jem destroys her flowers and is then forced to read to her each day. Without noticing it, each day he stays longer and longer as Mrs. Dubose slips in and out of consciousness. After she later dies we learn that she was battling a morphine addiction. Each day Jem read to her a bit longer and each day she went longer without her morphine so by the time she died, she was free of her addiction. 

"I wanted you to see something about her- I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs. Dubose won, all 98 pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the braves person I ever knew." - Atticus Finch

The second half too was full of little lessons. That's why this book has remained so relevant and so loved. These lessons and morals are presented so easily with no patronizing and they are presented to children. As opposed to getting preached at, we are seeing these grand ideas through the eyes of a child who has yet to be colored by society's views and opinions. They still see things with that honesty that is so beautiful about childhood. 

One of of the scenes that I had forgotten about but that is now one I vividly remember is the scene after the Robinson trial where Scout finds her third grade class talking about the beginnings of World War II and Hitler gathering up the Jews into concentration camps. Scout asks why the people of Maycomb are so upset about the innocent Jews being mistreated in Europe but see no fault in mistreating the blacks in their own neighborhood. This hypocrisy was so startling and I was mad I hadn't thought of it while I was reading. It infuriated me like it did Scout and made me so angry with the town. This book is so pure and full of such a message of love. 

Also this conversation between Jem and Scout:

"Naw, Jem, I think there's just one kind of folks. Folks."
"That's what I thought, too," he said at last, "when I was your age. If there's just one kind of folds, why can't they get along with each other? If they're all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? Scout, I think I'm beginning to understand something. I think I'm beginning to understand why Boo Radley's stayed shut up in the house all this time... it's because he wants to stay inside."

Guys, this writing. It's intuitive and compassionate and there are so many little allusions and symbols. It's a book lover's dream. It's a writer's dream. It's a dream. To end this already long (but never long enough) post, here are just a few favorite quotes. Also, just read this book. Please. It's important.

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing." -Scout

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb in his skin and walk around in it." - Atticus

"Well, Indian-heads- well, they come from the Indians. They're real strong magic, they make you have good luck. Not like fried chicken when you're not lookin' for it, but things like long life 'n' good health, 'n' passin' six weeks tests..." -Jem

"His lips parted into a timid smile, and our neighbor's image blurred with my sudden tears.
'Hey, Boo,' I said."- Scout. (ALSO, this is the cutest thing and most stunning passage in a book of all time. Cried like a child. Such a sweet little soft moment.)

"I willed myself to stay awake, but the rain was so soft and the room was so warm and his voice was so deep and his knee was so snug that I slept.
'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 hand'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.'
He turned ot the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning."

(Just saying... Atticus Finch could tuck me into bed ANY night. That man is so classy.)

via Tumblr and also my dreams


  1. Great thoughts! It's interesting to see how your opinion of the novel has changed. I read it when I was 12, and loved it, but I have a new appreciation for it now.

  2. Well, now I should read TKAM. I read it in high school I want to say (maybe earlier) and I didn't care much for it then. I know the plot and the characters but I still don't remember spending time to read it. I don't remember the words. This has definitely inspired me to read it again. THANKS!!! xoxox

  3. Mmmm Atticus :) haha I'm so glad you wrote this post! I'm reading a book right now, this big, long historical biography. But I think this one will be next. I read it in high school too, but I didn't appreciate any good things in high school.

  4. I'm so pleased you found the magic and wonder in this story second time around. Every time I read TKAM I want to make everyone I know read this book now!
    I just finished it tonight and realised that I've been fortunate enough to marry me very own modern day Atticus :-)

  5. My opinion changed so much, too. Great thoughts. I haven't been able to mine together, yet. I had hoped to have it up on Wednesday, but I've been super sick AND my newborn nephew arrived a week early! I will have it up this weekend, thugh. Thanks for participating!

  6. i really like your writing! and this is such a nice post. i also only loved this book the second time i read it. maybe i was a little too young to understand the first time. it really is a book that sticks with you :)


Thank you for your words; they light a fire in my heart. You are lovely.