Thoughts on a Classic: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Goodreads Summary:
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.

I read Go Set a Watchman back in August without remembering anything about the original book. I really enjoyed Go Set a Watchman, but it seemed that so many people disliked it. I decided that I needed to go back and read Mockingbird to see what all the fuss was about.

My Thoughts:
I’m sorry. I have to say it. I just don’t really get why this book is such a classic. Similar to Little House on the Prairie, it’s a slow chronicle of life in the South in the 1930s. I found the trial interesting, and, yes, Atticus was a great father and a good man for the time, although he is not without his faults. I enjoyed the ending, but I guess maybe coming-of-age type stories aren’t really for me. I’m not a fan of classic literature, and sadly this book was not an exception.

I found Jem to be an exceptional older brother. And Harper Lee brought tears to my eyes several times as Scout learned some hard truths of the world, but I really felt that it was Jem and Dill who were experiencing the truth much more vividly than Jean Louise was. I could relate to their cruelty with regards to Boo Radley, and despite that I rejoiced in his appearance at the end of the book.

However, for most of the book I was a little bored and wondering what everyone finds so wonderful about this story. Please feel free to enlighten in the comments.

My Rating: 3 stars
Understand my ratings.

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  1. I’m rereading this book right now. It was one of the few books that I was forced to read in school that I actually enjoyed. I think I like it for its setting. It has a strong sense of place and time, and it’s very different from anything that I ever experienced in life.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

  2. I understand how you feel about this one. I do really like it, but when I re-read it this past summer I didn't feel as struck by it as I was the first time around. I first read it as a freshman in high school, and I think the experience of reading it so young is probably why it stayed with me for a while.

    1. That makes sense. I think I related better to Go Set a Watchman because the experiences of grown up Jean Louise were more in line with my current and more recent experiences. I'm too far removed from childhood. I would have loved the story told from Atticus' perspective because I did relate to him as a parent.

  3. I only recently listened to it, on audiobook – somehow I escaped being assigned it in school. I really did enjoy it, but I think Sissy Spacek's narration was a large part of it. You're right that Jean Louise doesn't get most of what's going on – I think that's deliberate. But while I enjoyed it, I think it's filled with thoughts that may be progressive for the time, but are still racist underneath. I'd be hopeful that we've grown past that as a society, and I wonder if kids reading and discussing it today are discussing to what degree Atticus is still bound by his own prejudice or just holding him up as a role model…

    1. I listened to Sissy Spacek as well. Good point about kids today vs. our teacher's youth. I think that's what bothered me most was that I was expecting Atticus to be so progressive based on everything I'd heard about him. But he really wasn't. He was better than most of the time but still very prejudice against blacks and women.

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