Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird

A review By


To Kill a Mockingbird is a southern gothic novel written by Harper Lee. It is one of the two novels ever published under her name. The plot of the book is loosely based on her experiences and events that took place in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama in 1936 when she was ten (10) years old.

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The book can be summarized by the following themes;

Courage and Compassion:

One of the primary characters in the book, Jean Louise Finch (Scout) whose perspective the entire book is based on is a 9 years old girl who almost always hangs out with her 13 years old brother, Jeremy Atticus Finch (Jem). Early in the book, they both start a relationship with Charles Baker Harris (Dill) and soon become best friends with him. The first part of the book deals with them trying to get Arthur Radely (Boo) out of the house. Rumors and grotesque stories have been spread about him on why he never leaves his house. For this singular reason, the children concoct plans and strategies to get his attention and him out of the house. For the sole purpose of confirming the veracity of the stories, they’d heard.

Gender Role:

Early on in the book, it is hard to tell the gender of the narrator (Scout) as she’s always hanging out with her brother (Jem) and their friend (Dill). Remarks from her brother such as “Don’t be such a girl” serves to further create a conflict in the certainty of her gender. Due to the male influences in her life in the characters of her father Atticus Finch(Atticus), brother(Jem) and friend (Dill) she engages in more masculine activities and even dressing to the utter dismay of her aunt Alexandria Hancock (Aunt Alexandria). Later on in the book, her aunt chastises her to be more lady like and influences her dressing, cordiality, and composure in the feminine direction.

Racial Injustice:

This is one of the key themes of the book. A character by the name of Tom Robinson is a black crippled negro who is accused of raping a white girl named Mayella Ewell. Scout’s father Atticus defends Tom Robinson and the outcome is one the reader won’t have predicted. The book explores the character/attitude of the deep southern Caucasians towards the negroes in the 1930s and the aspersions cast on the entire black community. For a black person reading this book, there’s a sense of injustice, inequality, and oppression that can be clearly perceived.

Loss of Innocence:

This to me is the key theme of the book and can also be found in the title itself. A mockingbird represents “innocence” hence, To Kill a Mockingbird simply means to kill innocence. A lot of references are made by the author in the book about this, one of which was when Atticus instructed his children when being taught how to shoot to feel free to hunt any animal but to never shoot a mockingbird because they harm nothing or no one. Two characters in the book embody this theme, Tom Robinson and Boo Radely, which you’ll get to see as you go along.

All in all, I’d say it was a good read that builds up as it goes along. It’s slow at first so it requires some patience.

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