Friday, December 29, 2006

To kill a mockingbird -- Book review

Author: Harper Lee
Year of Publication: 1960
Accolades: Winner of 1961 Pulitzer prize
Introduction: Reading this book left me confused. Confused on whether this is "One of the best" books that I have ever read or is it "The best" book that I have ever read.

The plot: The story takes place in a small county called as Maycomb, Alabama in the year 1935 when racism and prejudice against the Negroes was prevalent. The story revolves around the Finch family consisting of the father Atticus Finch, his 13-year old son Jim, his 9-year old daughter Scout & their maid servant Calpurnia. Atticus,a lawyer, is asked to defend a black person called Tom Robinson who has been charged with the rape of a white woman. The story describes the problems & hardships that the Finch family undergoes when Atticus takes up this case. There is also an interesting sub-plot revolving around the mysterious character of 'Boo' Radley, a neighbour of the Finch family who never comes out of his house. The other interesting characters of this novel are Aunt Maudie (She lives in the apartment opposite to that of the Finch), Aunt Alexandra (Sister of Atticus) and the ever mischievous Dill (Friend of Scout & Jim). Whether Atticus is able to acquit Tom of his charges & whether he is able to appease the people of Maycomb county for fighting for a black person forms the rest of the story.

Narration Style: The story is narrated by Scout, the nine year old daughter of Atticus. This makes for a pretty interesting read as looking at such a serious issue as racism through the eyes of a unprejudiced 9-year old drives home the point in a subtle yet powerful way. There are some places in the narration where you would feel that Scout is 'Super intelligent' to talk about such complex issues as racism, rape & murder. This is probably one of the places where the author could have taken some other approach to narrating the incidents. This is a minor complaint for the narration is gripping with vivid descriptions of the Maycomb county, the pranks that the 3 kids play & the case itself.

Highlight of the book: The following dialog between Scout & Atticus captures the essence of the novel so beautifully that I am forced to reproduce it verbatim. The following exchange occurs when Scout talks about the prudence of Atticus fighting the case for Tom.

Scout: Well, most folks seem to think they're right and you're wrong....
Atticus: They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.

Bottom line: This is "The Best" book that I have read till now. A must read.
Trivia: Gregory Peck won the Oscar for portraying the role of Atticus Finch in the movie of the same name.

4 comments:

Sampy said...

Is this the same book that Debra (Patricia Heaton) refers to in "Everybody Loves Raymond"?

Howard Roark said...

I don't know sampy. Even though I have watched the show a couple of times, I am not that good in remembering such things......

Ashok said...

I have watched the movie. Nice and very moving Story ! Gregory Peck played the astonishing Protagonist and he nailed the character !

Howard Roark said...

I guess Gregory Peck won the Oscar for his role. I am trying to get the DVD for watching the movie as well