Source: I bought this one for my kids from those flyers the kids bring home
"Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it"
This is the home of Scout Finch, narrator of the story of her youth, her unusual father, Atticus, her older brother, Jem, and the people that surrounded them in the mid-1930's in Alabama.
"People moved slowly then. they ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours long but it seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County."
By now, particularly in light of the recent 50th anniversary buzz about this book, you're all probably familiar with the story. This was the first time I have read this book, although I have seen the movie adaptation several times. I was both pleased to see how well the book had been adapted (including most of the dialogue) and surprised by how much more there was to discover in the book.
I've always had the impression that Atticus Finch was an ideal father (although this may have something to do with the fact that he's played by Gregory Peck in the movie). The beginning of the book gave me another impression.
"Jem and I found our father satisfactory; he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment."
Courteous detachment? Hardly what I would consider a perfect parent. Atticus is often preoccupied and carries the weight of Maycomb on his shoulders. Yet he clearly cares deeply about his children and instills in them his deep moral beliefs.
Molly, of The Bumble's Blog, pointed out something to me that I certainly never noticed while watching the movie. While Scout may be the narrator, and certainly a key player in the book, this is really Jem's coming of age story The movie adaptation leaves out many events that showed this. Curiously, it also left out what I thought was one of Scout and Jem's greatest lessons, a lesson Scout learned from her teacher, Miss Gates. During class one day, Miss Gates is discussing events in Hitler's Germany. She tells her students:
But Scout knows differently. Following the trial of Tom Robinson (a black man), Scout recalls hearing Miss Gates say:"Over here we don't believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced."
"...it's time somebody taught 'em a lesson, they were gettin' way above themselves, an' the next thing they think they can do is marry us."This is a beautiful book. If you've ever started it and put it down because it was so slow paced, give it another try. Until I was about half way through the book, I was only reading a few pages a day. I thought it was lovely but it just was not pulling me in. Then I found that I could not put the book down; I simply wanted to immerse myself in Maycomb. In the end, I was sad to be done with it and sorry that I will never again have a chance to read this book for the first time.
"Your father's right," she [Miss Maudie] said. "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 our for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."Thanks for convincing me to read this one, Molly!