Saturday, October 29, 2011
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird
Summary: (back of the 50th Edition book)
The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy, Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill a Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.
Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill a Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior-to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into ten languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal.
Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded a s masterpiece of American literature.
I'd Recommend to:
High School and College students
“Jem was a born hero” (Lee 52). Jem, his sister, Scout, their father, Atticus, and their friend, Dill, are all a part of the stories that are To Kill a Mockingbird. Originally a bunch of short stories, Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, put them together to create a bestseller, winning herself a Pulitzer Prize in the process. It was published in 1960, and has never been out of print since. It’s even sold over a million copies every year! It has inspired many – politicians, artists, writers, and even regular people. It’s been so inspiring that a well-seen movie has come out of it. Based on the recognition it has received along with the life lessons Atticus and the other adults in the book have taught the children and the fact that there are still racial and bias injustices nowadays, it is obvious that Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is clearly of strong contemporary significance, not merely pleasant, undemanding reading.
Children, as well as some adults, of today’s time can still apply the life lessons taught in To Kill a Mockingbird, being one of the reasons it is of strong contemporary significance. Though he taught many of the lessons in the book, Atticus did not teach this one. The neighbor, Miss Maudie did. When Scout was questioning the Radleys, neighbors of the Finches, about their social activities and religion, Miss Maudie wisely stated, “There are just some kind of men who-who’re so busy worrying about the next world they’ve never learned to live in this one” (Lee 60). The underlying message in this quote is to live in the moment. Do not always worry about what will happen way in the future, because if it prevents you from having fun now, it’s not always worth it. Miss Maudie taught a general life lesson that can be applied to anyone, of any age, at any time. Another reason for To Kill a Mockingbird to be a masterpiece is that there are still issues of racial and bias injustices. One of the main parts of the story was that Tom Robinson, an African American, was accused of having an inappropriate relationship with Mayella Ewell, a white woman. Though Atticus proved Tom completely innocent, making it clear there was no possible way he could have done what he was accused of, Tom was still found guilty by the jury because he is not white. It is true that there are no more major issues today, but people, especially in the South, are still not equal, as stated in the Constitution with “All men are created equal”. If so, then why has that still not been accomplished? Caucasians still seem to be superior to African Americans and that is one thing that is happing in To Kill A Mockingbird, making it still relevant today, which is what “contemporary significance” means.
Though like most critics, there are many different points of views, and one happens to say that To Kill a Mockingbird is merely pleasant, undemanding reading. One reason people seem to think this is because they claim that the narrator is an unreliable resource. Of course, that is not true. Scout is a child as the story takes place. She is very reliable because she was actually there first hand and children’s minds can remember more and comprehend a lot more than the average adult mind, because they are more open to things and they have yet to be taught most judgments that adults end up putting in their minds. Because of that, they are extremely reliable because they tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” as Atticus, being a lawyer, would say. In “The Long Life of a Mockingbird”, a book called Twitterature is quoted, as a fan with a Twitter account agrees that children are a more reliable source for information. It says “@BooScout went to the trial. Tom seems innocent. Also, it occurs that our town is full of racists. Perhaps only the eyes of a child can see the truth” (Philpot 53). Another attempt at proving that To Kill a Mockingbird is intended for a light, leisurely read is that the plot is all over the place and that there are a lot of unnecessary details, which is absolutely absurd. The first part of the story has to do with Boo Radley, which is where most people find that there is no real meaning. Boo Radley is extremely important because at the end, it is because of him that Jem and Scout live. “Taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service” (Lee 369) was said when Mr. Author “Boo” Radley was mentioned, near the end. As stated before, To Kill a Mockingbird was originally a bunch of short stories, which if you think about it, makes it certain that each chapter does indeed have a part in the story. Part 1 sets the scene up for Part 2 and without it, you would have little idea of what was going on, and by the resolution you would be totally lost. This proves that each section and each little piece and detail of the story are very important and cannot be lost.
To Kill a Mockingbird has been overly proved that it is not merely pleasant, undemanding reading, and is indeed a work of strong, contemporary significance because of the injustices and life lessons still relevant to today’s society. There definitely is still value in the storyline that makes it a classic and makes it still a book people can read and relate to in the present, though it is no longer 1930 (when the events in the story took place) or 1960 (when the book was originally published). The opposing side trying to prove that Harper Lee’s prize-winning novel is not very memorable does have some good points, but each of their claims can be refuted and proven incorrect. It is an opinion though, whether the book is major or not, but either way, any sensible reader would quickly agree that it contains strong, contemporary significance.
Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Grand Central Publishing. 2010. Print.
Philpot, Chelsey. “The Long Life of a Mockingbird.” The Horn Book Magazine May-June 2011: 51-55. Print.