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To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird has always been in my “to read” list however I was hesitant at first thinking that it might be a heavy book for me to understand. But I was happy that I bought the book when I saw it in a store. Much of what attracted me was the cover – it has a mysterious and eerie feel that I failed to resist.

Here’s the plot if you are not familiar.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee tells of Scout and Jem’s childhood in Alabama and how a series of events shook their innocence, shaped their character and taught them about human nature. Lee examines racism and other prejudices through a page turning story told in a wonderful, Southern voice. And if you want to know more.

I know a good book when I read the first few pages. And this one is more than good. I finished it in a day. Not a lot of pages (376 pages) but definitely a good story.

The first conversation (or see below) was interesting already. The conversation between Scout and Jem suggests life as a series of causes. It also raises the question regarding the existence of some ultimate point in the chain of causes, perhaps the beginning where the cause of everything is found. Is there a first cause in all that had happened? – is the main question.

The whole book, however, gives a bird’s eye view on how society can corrupt our minds. How we never questioned our customs and traditions simply because it has been a routine and norm for almost everybody. School, for instance, can be the perfect place for learning or the right place to cease learning.

It is entertaining on how an innocent mind (“just” a kid) can see all these unfortunate realities. I love the part when Scout and Attticus were having a conversation and then Scout said

Well if you don’t want me to grow up talking that way, why do you send me to school?

At least, Scout was using her mind and not just memorizing because sadly, our educational system encourages student to just memorize.

Another line that supports the ‘because its a tradition’ issue came from Atticus, he said,

In certain circumstances the common folk judiciously allowed them certain privileges by the simple method of becoming blind to some of the Ewell’s activities.

This happens a lot. Corruption for instance, everybody knows that corruption happens even within the lowest position in the government. And since this is the case, then there is no way that the government can solve this problem. But this does not mean that the people is not liable. Because, everybody knows it is happening but the masa (common folk) turn a blind eye on this one and decides to remain silent. But silence only means conformity.

The title, on the other hand, raises questions on morality and justice. Will it be moral to do bad thing for common good? Is it okay to sacrifice the death of a blue jay to save a mockingbird (since a mockingbird has more purpose)?

Here’s a summary of Chapter 30. (or see below)

But if I am to ask, I would rather be an immoral than a fool. I will forget about justice and save a good soul.

Below are some of the lines I found amusing and worth taking down.

Scout: “Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved reading. One does not love breathing.”
Scout: “It’s so cold, it burns”
Scout: “Ladies seemed to live in faint horror of men”
Atticus: “People in their right minds never take pride in their talents”
Atticus: “There is no ideal to me, it is living. a working reality”


Chapter 1

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn’t have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.

When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.
I said if be wanted to take a broad view of the thing, it really began with Andrew Jackson. If General Jackson hadn’t run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Finch would never have paddled up the Alabama, and where would we be if he hadn’t? We were far too old to settle an argument with a fist-fight, so we consulted Atticus. Our father said we were both right.


Chapter 30

Heck insisted that he just couldn’t bring himself to drag into the limelight a man as shy as Arthur Radley although Arthur had done the whole town a favor by killing Bob Ewell. He’d killed the man to save Scout and Jem, but if Heck had aired that to the whole town, the man’s privacy would have been destroyed and Heck didn’t want to do that to him. He would have considered it a sin to do such a thing. When Atticus asked if Scout understood that Ewell fell on his knife, she assured him that Heck was right. She explained to Atticus that exposing Boo would be like shooting a mockingbird. Atticus thanked Arthur for saving his children and then went in the house.

Hope you’ll find time to read the book. Have fun reading, because I know I did.