All the stars there are. Just think of all the pop psychology BS we could be spared if only this prescription for interpersonal relations was followed: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
I won’t try to match the outstanding reviews of this book. Try Stephen’s http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/94754648 or Chris’s http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/14146010 for great insight. Just treat yourself to one of the mostest outstanding pieces of literature ever composed. I think it was wasted on me in HS but after seeing some of life, it is now a revelation. I’ll be reading it again soon, there is so much there to uncover. Every character in the book is vividly brought to life and you’ll want to meet a bunch of them.
My few thoughts: Atticus, the original American hero, has that certain kind of quiet courage and honor that seems uniquely Southern. As I was reading about the coming trial, I kept thinking about the Confederate soldiers portrayed in The Killer Angels as they waited to attack up Cemetery Ridge on the 3rd day of the battle. They all knew it was likely a lost cause, they would be killed or wounded but they went up into the smoke and fire nevertheless. Atticus was like that, he went into the court battle knowing he was not likely to succeed and his reputation (or worse) would be ruined...but he went nonetheless.
I really liked Miss Maudie and Calpurnia, they were tough and wise. Wouldn’t it be great to have kids who said “Yes Sir”, “Yes Ma’am” and played outside most of the day, using imagination rather than texting to relate to the world?
The innocence and simplicity in the beginning of the novel starts us out in the idyllic world of young kids and then the casual and cruel racism is slowly revealed, shocking to us now. This was the world not all that long ago. For all our faults, we have come a long way from there. But this novel was put out in the very beginning of the 1960’s struggle to realize civil rights for all. What was the true impact of this book? Was this something that moved the culture along the path to overturning our institutionalized discrimination? There seems to be a lot of criticism that the novel is a “sugar-coated myth”, that Atticus is not all that courageous and it doesn’t look hard enough at the culture of racism. Think I may do some exploring along this line, I have not read much of the literature on the Civil Rights struggle. I saw a new paperback printing of TKAM at the local WalMart the other day. The 50th anniversary of the book was last year and the film anniversary is next year. Wondering what the reason for this new, prominent release of the book is? Maybe it is just out for the new school year but I never noticed before in such a prominent place.
The amazing thing is this was the only significant work by Harper Lee. As I was reading it, I was reminded of the scene in “Amadeus” where Salieri sees Mozart’s first and only drafts of sheet music, with no corrections. It was already written in Mozart’s head and he simply wrote it down. This book is like that. Seems like it was already written in Ms. Lee’s head and really you can’t take away or add to it and make it better. Seems perfect as it is.