Sunday, November 15, 2009

To Kill A Mockingbird

I can't remember why, but I decided I should read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee again. I'd read it in high school, but honestly... the only book I actually remember from high school is Lord of the Flies, probably because it was the one most like juvenile literature. I also remember reading not just the Cliff's Notes for Pride and Prejudice, but my friend's printed-out copy of the Cliff's Notes, made more ironic because I was acting in the play at the same time yet had no idea what the heck it was about (I've since repented, and own and love both the book and the forever-long BBC DVD version).

At any rate, I picked up To Kill A Mockingbird from the library, as well as a million Sharon Creech books and some picture books. I think I went through five or six Creech books in the same time it took me to read the first fifth of Mockingbird. I enjoyed parts of it when I read, but I couldn't see the point; I felt no motivation or compulsion to keep reading. I found the plot amusing, but not gripping.

Then I talked to Olive about Mockingbird, and she didn't even say much about it, but she told me some reasons she liked it.

When I got through with all the Sharon Creech books I'd borrowed, I picked up Mockingbird again. I decided I was just going to go with it. I wasn't going to worry about plot threads or motivation or anything, I was just going to read it and enjoy it. Guess what happened? I loved it!

To Kill A Mockingbird is beautifully written. Harper Lee paints such perfect descriptions, made even better because half the time the protagonist--as narrator--doesn't even know what it is she's describing. The children are portrayed well, and in fact, so are all the characters. I mean, listen to this description of Scout's aunt's appearance: She was not fat, but solid, and she chose protective garments that drew up her bosom to giddy heights, pinched in her waist, flared out her rear, and managed to suggest that Aunt Alexandra's was once an hour-glass figure. From any angle, it was formidable.

Giddy heights? Goodness, that makes me laugh!

When I was in high school I also didn't quite make the mockingbird connection. This was probably because I read the book too fast and didn't pick up half of what I read. (I sometimes wonder that I'm a writer when I consider the things I did in my high school English classes.) This time, however, I got it. It's pretty obvious, actually, if you read at a regular pace.

I will leave you with the few lines that drew the greatest emotional response from me:

"Atticus--" said Jem bleakly.

He turned in the doorway. "What, son?"

"How could they do it, how could they?"

"I don't know, but they did it. They've done it before and they did it tonight and they'll do it again and when they do it--seems that only children weep. Good night."


Sail said...

I enjoyed reading this entry.

I'd like to be able to convey an image as well as Harper Lee does.

ol' Bob said...

The book should be added to my listening list if it exists at

ol' Bob said...

Alas, it is not available as an audiobook from

whirligigdaisy said...

I love this book. Love it.

elegyrl said...

I re-read it last year or the year before as well! I love it! That's why I had decided to read it again because I remembered enjoying it in high school! I also want to re-read Twelve Angry Men and The Crucible. I haven't gotten those ones yet though....