Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

Atticus Finch: You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.

To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

I finished reading the book on a Wednesday and two days later on Friday 19th Feb, 2016, author Harper Lee passed away. I was always a little hesitant to read the book since I had already watched the movie. I thought reading the book would be pointless since I already know the story line. But yes, I was proved wrong, because the book is a work of literally genius and I conclude a must read.

This is smart book on so many levels. It tackles so many themes with clever and engaging little plots. There is rampant symbolism of the various themes as well. But in the end its the warmth of the story telling that really gets to you and makes the book so endeared. It is in works such as these when you realize the power of art and its medium, as well as the genius of the artist. Out of the many themes, its courage and compassion that caught my attention the most.

To me, Atticus Finch is the real treasure of the book. I would mention him in the same breath as Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, and he is fictional. Speaks volumes of him doesn’t it? Funny that all three were lawyers and don’t lawyers have the worst kind of reputation?

Atticus would be one of the few non fictional characters that I would look up to as a role model. Here is a man who is way ahead of his time and is so different from the people in his community. Not only is he different, but he is also aware of himself and he has the knowledge and patience to accept others as they are, without anger or resentment. Those are the qualities of a saint. And just like all saints, he isn’t docile and sitting around. He is a man of action, an agent of change and he lives up to the task he is called to do. As Miss Maudie explains to Jem “I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world born to do the unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.” Atticus displays humanity in crystalline form. He is probably the only man who cannot break the commandment of ‘love thy neighbor’. There is a scene where Scout confronts a lynch mob and she remarks “Atticus had said it was polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in.” If you have read Dale Carnegie, you know what this line means.

My most memorable moment in the book will be its ending. Scout stands on the Radley porch having walked Boo Radley home. Standing out there she looks into the past and describes it. It’s almost like the book looking back at itself. How many books have the courage to do that?

The flashback is both moving and touching. I felt the movie did not do enough justice to this scene. In the movie it’s just a voice over narration. I would have loved to see Scout’s imagination unfold in a slow faded montage. I could picture the scene in a long shot out in distance, the camera sitting beside Scout allowing us to observe with her the events of time that had passed by. It would put us right in Boo Radley’s skin!


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