As a writer I was determined to find out why this book was so highly praised to the point that within a year of printing it had landed the most coveted of writer’s awards: the Pulitzer Prize.
Was it because it spoke boldly about the civil rights of all men?
Was it because Harper Lee emphatically decried the injustice of racism in our courts?
Was it because she demanded to be heard on a grand platform?
No. I don’t believe so.
Rather, her writing is subtle. Beautifully subtle. We are told a story, quietly and innocent. The truths which come out are that which come from the mouths of babes; the wisdom of children.
I see it now, the simplicity of her work yet the enormity of its message no matter how gently it was delivered. As a writer I can see how she did not over complicate things, but instead allowed her readers to make intelligent connections and assumptions.
As a reader I was invested – oh boy was I invested in the man known as Atticus Finch! I instantly took a liking to him and may even place him as my newly crowned favorite leading male character of all who have paraded before me. He was noble in a time of duress, he was honest and steadfast, and, most importantly, he listened to his children.
If you haven’t read it, I recommend it. If you were forced to read it as a teenager for school and didn’t like it, I recommend you revisit it. In a world where messages are loudly thrust at us from every angle covering every agenda; in a world where literature has become watered down and blatantly in your face this piece of history is not only refreshing, but endearing.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved reading. One does not love breathing.”
– Scout, To Kill a Mockingbird
“Of course he shouldn’t, but he’ll never change his ways. Are you going to take out your disapproval on his children?”
– Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
“… You’re not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.”
– Calpurnia, To Kill a Mockingbird