Sunday 14 November 2021

To Kill a Mockingbird - Book Review

Just because I wanted to write this, here comes nothing.

Set in 1930s in Maycomb county, Alabama, a 6-year-old gives you an insight into law, racism, gender dynamics, marriages, rape, religion, mental health, friendships, joy, solidarity, grief, communities, and everything else that you can imagine as a subject for discourse even today.

One of the things that I simply loved about the book is that there is only ONE single character that has been portrayed as entirely evil. And honestly, Atticus, with his usual subjective analysis has been able to identify as a victim-turned-perpetrator.

No other character is black only, or white only. They are all people with both the good and the bad wolves within them. They are a small community of people with areas of life that need a lot of work, and also with areas that are perfect as they are. A community that runs to extinguish an old spinster's house, and rebuild it, and yet a community that shuns away those they call trash.

Another adorable thing about this piece of fiction is the way Atticus addresses every single question his children ask. Sure, Atticus is a very textbook ideal father, but he does have a lot of similarities with my own. No wonder Scout puts him on a pedestal like I did mine for decades.

No wonder it took Scout Finch a long time (all the way in the second book) to see that he is a human with his shortcomings too. No wonder it took me a decade too to know that my own Atticus in my life is a human and has his own limitations too. 

Similarly, Calpurnia is a perfect example of a decent person, and Dr. Finch a perfect gentleman despite his quirks and his eccentric habits. However, the sensitivity that Boo Radley demonstrates is something else altogether. How child-like simplicity can reach the heart of a man who has been shunned away, been left alone fot decades! How also, the same simplicity can shock and brings back to senses, a horde of men intent on violence and murder!

And then the book made me think of what Atticus does when it comes to fighting the case for a falsely accused Negro. The willingness to sacrifice his life in trying to save that of Tom Robinson, reminds me of the willingness of Elijah Michaelson to sacrifice his for Niklaus in the series Originals. His fear for the life of his children, the same as Niklaus' for his daughter Hope.

I read the book every single time and I am reminded of the aggression the oppressed face even within their communities. Calpurnia facing the anger of others in the Negro community for instance. For the fact that she is educated, can read, can speak 'proper' English. I love how she responds to that aggression, and how she explains it to Jem and Scout when they ask.

While it may be set in date, I love this book to pieces, and often wonder what would the world like be if it had more of Miss Maudies and Atticus Finches. I wonder what the world would be like if we had more children brought up like Jem Finch and Scout Finch.

I feel this sense of nostalgia with my own childhood, and yet feel bereft of something in there. Something that I only see missing in hindsight, even though that something isn't the highlight of everything that I missed while growing up.

To everyone, who has read the book and loved it, yay to the tribe! To those who read it and didn't love it, or like it, I'll love to hear your thoughts on this piece of text. To all those who haven't read it, you might be missing a really good book. See, if you'd like to read it. To those of you who want their children to read REALLY meaningful stuff, this might be a great pick.

On that note, here's a quote from Atticus Finch that has formed the basis of all my struggle subconsciously, ever since I read it... “This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, we’re fighting our friends. But remember this, no matter how bitter things get, they’re still our friends and this is still our home.”

© Anupama 2021