The novel, To Kill a Mockingbird is a touching story that takes place in the sleepy small town of Maycomb, Alabama. The story is centered around Scout Finch, daughter of the widowed Atticus Finch. Scout and her older brother Jem keep themselves busy by playing around all over town, but they wouldn't dare to approach the Radley House. Just a couple of houses down from their own home is the mighty Radley House. This house is no regular home, it is the home to the famous Boo Radley. Everyone had heard the disturbing rumors concerning Boo, apparently, he was once a messed up teen who killed his own father, and now he never left the house. These horrific tales amongst others lead the town to portray him as some kind of monster. Boo is a reoccurring interest for the siblings and their childhood friend Dill throughout the whole story, they find it especially fascinating when they manage to “get in contact” with him. Peculiar gifts are left in a tree on numerous occasions, supposedly by Boo. This is just the beginning of the adventure regarding Boo, an exciting adventure with a shocking ending.
While the children are off playing around, Atticus focuses on supporting his family during the tough economic times. The story takes place during the 1930s, these were very difficult years for many in the states due to the great depression. The great depression occurred when the American stock market brutally crashed, it was the worst economic downturn in US history. Thousands of people lost all of their money, a quarter of the population suffered from unemployment and several families had to give up everything they owned in order to survive. The novel displays the consequences of the tragic economical event in several ways, but mostly it's presented in the poverty of the folks living in Maycomb. Even the wealthiest folks in the area, the Finches, seem to be suffering and living within the means available to them.
Though the family is struggling financially Atticus manages to support his family. During the days Atticus works the children are taken care of by their cook, a black woman named Calpurnia. Having a black cook at the time was in no way socially accepted. The years during which novel takes place during the so-called Jim Crow era. This term describes the time period when black people in the United States could no longer be held in slavery, but there were laws that limited the social, political, and economic possibilities available to black citizens. For example, physical segregation in public places became more and more common. White and black people had separate bathrooms, separate drinking fountains, and even separate schools and hospitals in some states.
Calpurnia isn’t the only black person that the Finches have a relationship with, one day Atticus takes upon a case that will come to change the life of the whole family. Atticus defends Tom Robinson in court, a black man falsely accused of raping a young white woman. Despite the communities threats, he works hard on the case and doesn't let anyone interfere with his business. Though Atticus usually was a respected lawyer, people certainly did not like the idea of a white man defending a black man. The case was talked about all over town. In court, Atticus presents loads of evidence proving the innocence of Tom. Though proven innocent he is still sentenced to jail, a judgment clearly based on racism. The epoch of the book explains the harsh and troublesome prejudices and racism displayed in the book, at the time racism was a given.
The novel continues to circle around the Tom Robinson trial and the creepy Boo Radley among other things on the way. The whole story is experienced from Scout's perspective, we get to follow her thoughts through everything. Scout really opens her mind and develops as an individual during the book. She goes from a childhood with no experience of the evils of the world to a girl who has encountered all kinds of evil, such as prejudice, sexism, and people, in general, telling her how to think. With this experience, Scout learns how to have an open mind as she forms her own opinions, without letting people persuade her to think like everyone else. She also learns very valuable lessons during the story, one of the most important ones being: putting yourself in other people’s shoes.
I really enjoyed reading the book, I thought it displayed the problematic racism of the time extremely well. The book really shows the reality of the troublesome years and how many people thought and acted under the influence of social prejudices. Getting to follow the journey through the mind of a young girl is, according to me, very inspirational. For me, understanding how society looked back in the day is hard. I have heard about racism and prejudices, but I have never truly understood the harshness of the situation before experiencing the reality through the eyes and mind of Scout Finch.
Not only is the book educational, but it is also exciting. Before reading the book I assumed the book would be quite boring, I expected it to be a dull story about the old days. To my surprise, once I really got into the book it was hard to put down. Some parts were a little slow and the build-ups were slightly too long, but these parts are outweighed by the meaningfulness and touching parts of the book.
I felt that the language in the book was slightly hard to understand sometimes. Since it's a very old book a lot of phrases were hard to figure out, mainly because of old slang. The book's vocabulary is also quite advanced, therefore I wouldn't recommend it to people of younger age. As a teen, I understood the meaning of the book and the story in general, but I still found words difficult to understand. I also feel like to understand the book you need to be able to read between the lines pretty well, everything isn't said very clearly. Personally, I like when you have to read between the lines, it makes the book a lot more interesting if you get to speculate a bit about certain things yourself.
Overall, To Kill a Mockingbird is a great book according to me, it is both educational and inspiring in many ways.
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