To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee (Novel and Film Discussion)

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“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”
Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

Goodreads Blurb

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 forty 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 as a masterpiece of American literature.

Review

I was given this novel by a coworker/friend. It’s been one of her favorite books for a long time and she was floored when she found out I had never read it. Granted most people are. Ricardo, my husband and my mother have been pushing for me to read the book since I was in middle school. I moved school several times growing up so I think I always missed the required reading from switching schools.

In my defense, I grew up watching the movie. My grandparents were born in 1924 and 1934 so they always loved the movie because it reminded them of when they grew up. And my grandmother (and everyone else really) loves Gregory Peck and Robert Duvall. They’re so good looking in To Kill A Mockingbird!

I thought the book was amazing. But I do want to point out that the novel was way more sad than the film. I think the movie was meant more for family entertainment and the book was a life lesson. Every conversation in the book was meant to teach a lesson. Everything Scout and Jem asked Atticus, was weaved into this philosophical web of life truths. The film and the book both were definitely meant to portray how backwards thinking people in the South during this time but in my opinion the book portrayed it better. It made me as mad as Jem was after the jury convicted Tom Robinson. I hated the injustice of it. And that novel shows exactly how children have to learn hard lessons. That people are not always inherently good. Sometimes groups of people make the wrong decisions based off of comfort and off of mob mentality.

Another part in the book that killed me was the chapter showing Jem and Scout going to read to Mrs. Dubose when she was dying. It hit really close to home because I lost two grandparents this summer within 3 weeks of each other. It just reminded me of how death is not pretty and peaceful the way some movies and books show it. My grandfather did pass away in his sleep and it was still one of the most painful things I have ever witnessed. I think that part of the book was omitted from the film because it would have made it less family friendly. It would have definitely set a sadder tone than the film ended up having.

My favorite characters in this book were of course the kids. I loved the chapters where Dill had come to visit Jem and Scout. I remember having friendships like those and the memories are priceless. I was sad that Dill never ended up permanently moving from Meridian to Maycomb.

I was also surprised by how much I loved the setting of this novel. Usually my favorite settings are the ones that take place in a foreign country in the medieval times or a magical place. Lee manages to really capture the time period in this novel and I love how simple life seems for the most part. The kids walk to and from school four times a day, church is just what you did, everyone is neighborly for the most part, and the kids are still playing outside on tire swings and come up with creative ways to entertain themselves. I wish the world was a little more like that these days. Everyone is always on an electronic device and only halfway present mentally and physically.

I was greatly saddened by the fact that the kids did not see Boo Radley again after he saved their lives in the end. I thought they would have formed this close relationship to where they could at least visit each other on a normal basis. I may be completely wrong but was Boo Radley autistic? Or did he just suffer from a bad home life? Although I think it’s tragic they didn’t continue with their relationship, I like the idea that Jem and Scout would forever have this memorable experience of the reclusive Boo Radley and that would stick with them way up into their adulthood.

I give this novel 5/5 stars. I think this novel wins the #1 slot on my list of favorite classics.

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