Tuesday, October 2, 2007

To Kill a Mockingbird

When Banned Books Week was originally brought up as a topic for blogging I recoiled at the idea. What do I know about banned books? Aside from what I had to read in high school, my reading inventory mostly consisted of Judy Blume books and romances.

Then I got a look at the list and I realized I wasn't so unlearned after all. What the hell did Judy Blume do to anyone? I was shocked at how many of her books (with the exception of Forever) were challanged.

It was no shock that Harry Potter was listed. I've read and loved all the books, but I figured everyone would be talking about them.

Then I saw To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee on the list, I knew this was the book I had to discuss. It deals with prejudice, hatred and coming of age set in the deep south during the depression. This story has a special place in my heart. You'll find out why as you read on.

The story is told from Scout's point of view, who is a six-year-old girl based on Lee, herself. She has an older brother, Jem, and her father is Atticus Finch, a lawyer.

Atticus is assigned to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping a young white woman. Being a stand-up guy, Atticus intends to defend Tom to the best of his ability, much to the chagrin of the citizens of Maycomb, Alabama. Jem and Scout are subjected to the taunts from other children.

At the trial of Tom Robinson, Atticus shows that the accuser and her father, the town drunk, are lying. It's just so obvious! Despite the evidence pointing to Tom's innocence, he is convicted. I was so mad when I read this. It's just so unfair. Tom later tries to escape from prison and is shot and killed.

It's easy to see why some people would want this banned. It forces us to face the injustice, prejudices and imperfections in the justice system.

To this day the ending makes me angry, but it was based on events that happened in Lee's childhood, and real life doesn't have to give us a happy ending.

I loved this book, I loved the movie, and I've never been more proud than when my oldest son played the part of Jem in his school play.

While watching my son perform, I was transported to when I first read the book in high school. I was naive enough to think that Atticus would succeed, Tom would be set free and everyone would see the accuser and her drunken father for the liars they were.

The play brought tears to my eyes. Not because my son was amazing in his part, or that the other kids were a mass of talented young men and women, but because my twelve-year-old daughter pouted all the way to the car:

I asked her what was wrong. She turned to me in anger and said, "I didn't like that play. Tom was innocent. How could people send him to prison just because he's black?"

I put my arm around her and said, "I'm glad you're angry."

Her anger turned to surprise. "Why?"

I said, "Because it proves to me I'm raising you right."

How wonderful is that?

~Maggie

9 comments:

  1. This is one of my favorite books of all time, Maggie. Very powerful and thought provoking. No wonder it was banned/challenged, eh? ; ) I've read it a couple times since high school many, many years ago and can't wait for my oldest to read it.

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  2. Excellent post, Maggie.

    Last year my daughter read TKAM and didn't like it because of the long, descriptive prose. Unfortunately, many kids today are so pressed for time with school, jobs, sports, that finding the time to really sink in and absorb a novel that complex is almost impossible.

    And it's doesn't have an accompanying video game either.

    ;)

    talia

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  3. Excellent post, Maggie.

    Last year my daughter read TKAM and didn't like it because of the long, descriptive prose. Unfortunately, many kids today are so pressed for time with school, jobs, sports, that finding the time to really sink in and absorb a novel that complex is almost impossible.

    And it's doesn't have an accompanying video game either.

    ;)

    talia

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  4. Aw Talia. It's sad, isn't it? That a book like TKAM will go unread because it doesn't have guys stealing cars and blowing up buildings.
    ~Maggie

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  5. Prejudice has always been a touchy subject in literature. this book handled it with integrity and great writing skills. To kill th mockingbird would mean the loss of our right to tell the simple truth, we are Americans, we can speak freely, this is our right.
    debralee

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  6. "To Kill a Mockingbird," is a favorite book of mine too.

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  7. I have NO idea why The Great Gilly Hopkins is on that list you linked too. It was on a TT I did a few months ago on my favorite books from when I was a child. Now I'll have to start investigating.

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  8. I understand that the first time you inhale pure cocaine, the parts of your brain that produce pleasure are stimulated so strongly some of them completely burn themselves out; they never work again. Sometimes when I re-read parts of this book, I wonder if writing something so powerful is like inhaling pure cocaine. Is that why she never wrote another book?

    Ambergris

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  9. Great post, Maggie. I can only hope that my own kids, when the time comes, will react as your daughter did to the underlying truth in Harper Lee's wonderful book.

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