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To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee

 
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Posted October 16, 2016 by

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee – 1960

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Reviewed by: D.W. Cymbalisty  Date: 7 April 2002

This story takes place over a three-year period during the Depression era, in a small fictitious town in the Southern U.S., ripe with racial prejudice. We view things through the 8 to 11 year-old eyes of the young girl Scout Finch. After the death of their mother, Scout and her older brother Jem are raised by Atticus, their almost too perfect father. (He often reminded me of Adam Trask in Steinbeck’s East of Eden). You could not ask for a better, more patient, and more understanding father than Atticus. As the town’s defense lawyer he takes up the case of Tom Robinson, a Negro unjustly accused of raping a white woman.

The resulting courtroom drama shakes the previously idyllic world of his two children, especially Scout. The children raise many legal and moral questions for Atticus, and he compels them to come to their own conclusions about the case.

What is brilliant about the book is how these children have a precocious understanding of justice… their very innocence and unbiased judgement points out the true horror of racial prejudice. Sitting in the courtroom, they are able to clearly understand the TRUTH that seems to elude an entire jury of adults.

Much more can be said in praise of this book, as there are many side-stories going on at the same time as this court case is proceeding. The timeless wonder of it all is how Harper Lee dovetails all of the other incidents to leave us with a sense of the ennobling nature of childhood. Sometimes children can look upon the effects of injustice and have their own sense of “justice” strengthened, rather than diminished. It takes great empathy and inner spirit to achieve this, but, To Kill A Mockingbird shows us that it is possible.

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