“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.”
We must have heard about To Kill a Mockingbird at some point in our lives. For some, this is an all-time high school favourite. And for others like me who got into reading this book much later in life, this book stands the same place with one regret. Why didn’t I read this sooner?
If you have read this book, I think you would agree with me that there is nothing I can write about it which is not already written. Nothing to explore which already hasn’t. Nothing more to speak about this book which already hasn’t been spoken. Still, there is a takeaway for each of us. The book speaks to every one of its readers in its own charming, and unique way urging the reader to dwell in Lee’s world and behold Atticus.
It was only my second attempt at devouring the book that made me want to pour my feelings. By now, I think you understand how much I like this book. I won’t lie. I am in awe of this book. Saying anything less than extraordinary is undermining the hidden talent of this book.
There are many layers to the story which one can discover only while re-reading. Reading once is simply not enough. Trust me on this. If you know me even a little bit, I think you would understand when I say this book is ahead of its time. We are entangled within similar concerns even today which Atticus fought for back then. Just the shape and nature of the problems have transformed and even amplified to some level.
The story is set in Maycomb, a rural area where people are deeply rooted in primitive ideologies who would never favour a Black man over White. So, when a court case comes up accusing a Black man, only Atticus is entrusted upon to look beyond the rudimentary beliefs and fight for justice.
I remember reading this text before and going gaga over Atticus Finch, who is brave enough to fight a lost battle. Lost battle because not only he is fighting the case, he is fighting prejudices, the rudimentary beliefs of skin colour making a difference. He strives for equality. He is not judgemental but is reasonable who treats everyone with nothing less than respect. He never loses his ground for his beliefs. No matter the circumstances, Atticus will always fight with the same enthusiasm against the evils of society.
“I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.”
He instills the same sense of justice in his children. He teaches them to be courageous, to hold their heads high even in dire circumstances, and always imprinting them with truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. He is well aware of the fact that there might not be a happily ever after. However, it is always worth a try for truth, for justice, and for humanity.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
Apart from Atticus, I am intrigued by Arthur Radley. He was seldom seen in the company of others and remained indoors. He was referred to as a lunatic who was capable of killing people at the slightest provocation. Jem, Scout, and Dill trespassed the Radley Place in a vain attempt to uncover this mystery of Arthur’s aloofness.
A sense of acceptance struck Jem when he was finally able to comprehend if not approve of Radley’s choices. It was only much later that Jem realised that may be Radley doesn’t come out of the house because he doesn’t want to. Just because his choices are different, he shouldn’t be branded as a maniac. Sometimes respecting each other’s choices is the least we can do to live harmoniously.
I want to talk about Jem and Scout Finch a little bit. The story is a narrative account of a young girl who was indifferent to her peers and was always reminded of the fact that she should behave like “ladies”. I really like the way Lee touches upon some of the persistent subjects through the guise of children. The innocence of the relationship between Jem and Scout is beautifully described by Harper Lee as she touched upon the importance of siblings who dwelled together in happiness and despair.
Harper Lee has exhibited sheer brilliance through this book as I feel there is so much still left to discover which will only be unveiled with another re-read. In spite of some minor irks that were strongly overshadowed by profound positivity, this book is unquestionably a must-read.
A book I feel I should have read earlier.