To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. It is primarily a novel about growing up under extraordinary circumstances in the 1930s in the Southern United States. The story spans three years, during which the main characters undergo significant changes. Scout Finch lives with her brother Jem and their father Atticus in the fictitious town of Maycomb, Alabama. Maycomb is a small, close-knit town, and every family has its social station depending on where they live, who their parents are, and how long their ancestors have lived in Maycomb.
The story also addresses the racial tension in America. But in order to sift through the many layers of racial prejudice that Lee exposes in her novel, the reader needs to understand the complex history of race relations in the Southern States of America. A simple reference can be the 2016 Hollywood movie Hidden Figures which depicts the racial segregation that existed in America.
There are 2 other serious issues that are dealt with in this book rape and loss of innocence. Both these elements make some parts of the book difficult to read.
A good part of this story’s brilliance lies in the fact that it’s told from a child’s point-of-view. Through Scout’s eyes, Lee is able to present the story objectively. By having an innocent little girl make racial remarks and regard people of color in a way consistent with the community, Lee provides an objective view of the situation. As a child, Scout can make observations that an adult would avoid or sugarcoat. Readers, too, are likely to be forgiving of a child’s perception, whereas they would find an adult who makes these remarks offensive.
This book has left an indelible impression when I re-read it later in life. As a young adult on my first reading I hadn’t comprehended the intensity of this book. It is at a much later age that I realized the cruelty the world is capable of and hence I think the theme of loss of innocence is so crucial as a reader’s experience.
Like all good literature, this book was made into the well-received 1962 film starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.
Go Set a Watchman is a novel by Harper Lee published on July 14, 2015, which was marketed as a sequel but it is really a first draft of this famous novel. I am yet to read it and once I have, I would come back with a review for it.
Sources: Wikipedia, Cliffnotes, Google ( Image)