I was in elementary school the first time I read To Kill A Mockingbird. I was a child so enamored of reading that I took a list of books considered to be classics and began reading and never quite stopped. I had a reading level higher than my maturity at the time but I didn’t much care. I was hungry for words and that list was my menu. As I re-read many of those books later in school or in my own personal reading, I often picked up on things, imagery, symbolism or nuances I was way too young to understand the first time around.
However that was not the case in most ways for To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee wrote from a child’s point of view, one of innocence, truth and honest questioning. A viewpoint that a child could follow, especially a child of the South. Her book affected me the first time I read it as well as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. This last re-read made me realize more than ever that part of the book’s allure is that it was truthful about things often not discussed such as race and class. However what I think made it even more attractive is that is was from a child’s point of view. A child that had to be told why things were the way they were. Doesn’t it all sounds so silly when it has to be explained….doesn’t it make us see how these rules and ideas we held dear were wrong…and really didn’t make any sense at all. Isn’t it amazing how the innocence of children so often makes us see the truth just like that moment outside the jail when Scout makes a connection that makes everyone human once again and breaks up the mob.
It reminds me not to dismiss what comes from the mouths of babes…for it is so often true and wise, much more so than anything we adults have sat and mulled over for hours. Lee knew that I think, that’s why she let that little tomboy girl do the talking. She knew Scout was the voice that could deliver the story with nothing but honesty and innocence and truth. That is what made it a classic and why it is so impacting to so many…we were all children. We all asked why things were the way they were. We all wondered….questioned….decided. And made our own estimations of why life works the way it does. We can only hope Scout helped some out in their outlooks and that people were changed as a result. I have now doubt some were and still are. Bravo Ms. Lee….and Happy 50th!
For lovers of To Kill a Mockingbird, I recommend Scout, Atticus & Boo: A Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird. A great book of essays and reflections from prominent figures, authors and even relatives of Lee herself about the book. It’s a great way to visit the book through other eyes or as Atticus would say “in their shoes”.
In closing I wanted to share a few of my favorite quotes from the book itself:
“I never loved reading. One does not love breathing.” ~Scout
“Before I can live with other folks I have to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”~Atticus Finch
‘Naw, Jem, I think there’s just one kind of folks Folks.” ~ Scout
I would love to know if you have any favorite memories or quotes concerning the book. Please share below if you do! The most wonderful thing about classic books that touch so many, is how they bring us together. Please also check out the 50th Anniversary website.