Book Review: "To Kill a Mockingbird"May 18, 2020
By: Jonathan Xu
To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel based on a true story witnessed by the author when she was a girl. The story takes place in a sleepy town called Maycomb, which is experiencing the Great Depression. The main character, Scout, and her brother, Jem, mature greatly throughout the progression of the novel. Scout’s father Atticus is called upon to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who was charged with raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. Due to the stereotype that all black people lie and are unlawful, it is a hopeless battle, but through this confrontation, Atticus takes the chance to teach his children valuable morals. Another mystery that emerges in Maycomb county includes the mystery of a sequestered man, Boo Radley. The children make up myths about him, while he is just an innocent man who was confined to his home for so long that he lacked the social skills of even someone as young as Scout. In the end, it is revealed that Boo saved Scout and Jem from Bob Ewell, a man who lived in squalor, and accused Tom Robinson, who he knew was innocent. This novel is a true classic told by Scout many years after the events described.
One of the main points about To Kill a Mockingbird that makes the book resonate is how it explores racial prejudice and injustice unlike any other book. It talks about the prejudice black people faced in the 1930s, and by doing so, reveals society’s flaws. Atticus, Scout’s father, tells Scout, “Our courts have our faults, as does any human institution, but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal.” Harper Lee utilizes a unique situation and storyline to introduce the issue of racism. By enabling a secure understanding of the events in the book for the reader, Lee allows for a lesson that resonates. This lesson is one of racial prejudice and the corruption of humanity, and is executed perfectly. The author does a really good job writing about the problems of our society by going back to her childhood.
Harper Lee chooses a setting, Maycomb, which is heavily influenced by her hometown, Monroeville. The setting of Maycomb greatly affects the plot through the use of poverty, racism, and prejudice. Scout says in the introduction that “Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it.” Harper Lee purposely put the setting of a sleepy Alabama town to maximize the racism in the novel and in the rest of the plot. If one moves them somewhere else, you will almost certainly have less racism, less African Americans, and less extremely biased white people. Utilizing a town like Maycomb greatly enhanced the plot. One example includes the attack on the Finch children committed by Bob Ewell, who are saved by Boo. Things like that would have never happened anywhere else but Maycomb.
Harper Lee creates characters in unique ways by including Scout’s thoughts on certain subjects. Atticus Finch tells Scout one day, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” It is obvious throughout the novel that Scout attempts to put this piece of advice to use. Scout tells the story from her point of view, but as an older Scout, who has already matured, looking back on the events, making the story distinctive. The character’s personalities are ones similar to any child’s, and would be easily relatable to almost anyone reading the book. This makes reading the book more enjoyable, and realistic, and helps the reader grasp the true intentions of the novel.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a classic novel that is worth the read. Harper Lee tells of the prejudices of the south through a completely different perspective, one of a little girl. The book also includes a unique setting, making the plot even more effective. Finally, Lee uses dynamic characters that are relatable in order to create a sense of empathy with the reader, making the characters likable and relatable. Harper Lee leaves the reader with a strong impression and a lesson that will make an resonate through the rest of their lives.