Sunday, July 29, 2007
To Kill a Mockingbird - Review
Rating : 4.5/5
Reason for reading : Something About Me Challenge, Book Awards Reading Challenge
Tells the story of the Finch family (father Atticus, son Jem and daughter Scout) living in Maycombe in America. It is set back when black people were seen as inferior citizens and were mostly employed by white people in the kitchen or picking cotton. The story starts with the children telling ghost stories about the reclusive neightbour next door who they nickname "Boo" Radley. This keeps them and their friend Dill entertained for most of the summer.
The small town is rocked when negro Tom Robinson (a family man with a wife and children) is accused of raping white Mayella Ewell. The Ewell's are not the most respected of families, being poor with an alcholic father and too many children to feed on their benefit money, and are deemed "trash" by some of the other white folks. Despite this, at the time the book is set (around the 1930/40's), white people do not loose court cases if the defendent is black. Atticus is given the case to defend Tom, which he does to the best of his ability despite knowing his loss is nearly inevitable and the town folk call his all kinds of names.
It was a really touching book that covers a range of topics. Foremost if the racial discrimination that went on at the time and how people were starting to change their attitudes and realise that all people are equal and that the colour of their skin is of no importance. It also discusses the class system at the time, with Atticus telling his children that no matter how rich the person, if they mistreat someone on grounds of race they are trash. The hypocrasy of the townsfolk was interesting as well. There is one incidence of a Jewish teacher who teaches Scout's class about discrimination as Hitler is starting to round up the Jews in Germany. She was however overheard at the trial of Tom making derogetary remarks about black people.
The parts covering childhood and family values stopped the book from being too serious. The children are very intelligent and really grow up in the few short years the book covers. I really liked all the central characters, especially Atticus. I grew to like their neighbour Miss Maudie and their overbearing Aunt Alexandra. It also had a lovely sense of humour running through the novel. I can see why people love it so much.