Author: Harper Lee.
It was quite fitting reading this the same year of Harper Lee‘s passing. The story itself still resonates today, especially with the recent issues surrounding racial tension and police violence against black people in America. It’s shocking that issues of the 60’s are still present. That’s why it’s important to read about the history and see the inequalities that surround different decades, and that may still linger.
To Kill A Mockingbird (1960) follows a court case over a number of years during the 1930’s wherein which Tom, a black man, is being accused of raping a white woman. Atticus, a white lawyer, is defends Tom which causes him to be seen as a traitor and sympathiser to black people. The novel also chronicles the growth of Atticus’ children: Jem and Scout, and their antics throughout school and the neighbourhood.
The characters really shined in this novel. Atticus, the man of the house, tries to teach his children to do the right thing in life even if it’s hard. He also had to deal with being ostracised by parts of the community who didn’t agree with him defending a black man.
Jem was a very strong character. He starts out as a typical child: a prankster who has yet to mature. What’s very interesting is his development. In the middle of the novel his character grows into a young man. He becomes more emotionally restrained, he speaks in a more mature manner and his childish behaviour is toned down. I thought this was brilliantly done. It really fitted the coming-of-age tone of the book.
It’s great to see Jem’s growth through the eyes of Scout because she doesn’t fully understand whats going on. Her journey through the school system and her struggle to understand the situation of the court case was intriguing. Her point of view gave a fresh view at a serious topic and we get to see the repercussions on the various characters.
Calpurnia‘s character was so refreshing. She was warm and sympathetic yet cut-throat and intelligent. It’s important to note how nuance it was in 1960 to give a voice to black woman especially one who worked as a maid. Her status as the surrogate mother was well utilised and she gave an insight into the black community‘s reaction to the court case.
It’s a wonderful period drama that follows a cast characters that could have been based in any town in America during the 1930’s. It was immensely realistic while giving a voice and an insight into the black community. It highlighted issues of segregation, civil rights inequalities, racial tension and the class struggle of America. A poignant piece that still has relevance today.