To put it quite simply, I love this book. I loved when I first read it in high school and it remains one of my favorite novels. I think it is one of the greatest pieces of American literature ever penned! There is so much to love about it! And then, of course, there is the film. When I read Atticus Finch, I see Gregory Peck and as far as I’m concerned, that’s the way it’s meant to be!
SPOILER ALERT: This post does contain spoilers!! You have been warned ;).
Oh there so much to say about this book! I keep typing out sentences and deleting them, typing more and hitting backspace. Tom Robinson and Boo Radley and Mrs. Dubose and Miss Maudie!! There simply isn’t enough time!
The brilliance of this story lies in the fact that its multi-faceted plot is seen through the eyes of a young girl. Scout is spunkiness personified. She’s curious about life and truly wants to know how and why things work the way they do. She actually puts me in mind of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby a little. Maybe it’s the hair. Maybe it’s the unfiltered desire to know about everything, to understand people and have them understand you. I think it’s a great coming of age story.
But of course, as much as we love to love Scout Finch, the real hero of the book is Atticus. And rightfully so. Here’s a man who knows who he is and what he stands for and doesn’t need to prove himself. He simply lets his life speak louder than his words. But oh, his words! This book is filled with some great quotes from this southern lawyer!
“When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don’t make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles ’em.”
“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.”
“If you shouldn’t be defendin’ him, then why are you doin’ it?”
“For a number of reasons,” said Atticus. “The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again.
“Scout, simply by the nature of the work, every lawyer gets a least one case in his lifetime that affects him personally. This one’s mine, I guess. You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t let ’em get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change…it’s a good one, even if it does resist learning.”
“The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you’ll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don’t you forget it – whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, he is trash.”
“Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
Yes. Atticus Finch is pretty much the coolest guy in American literature. His relationship with his kids is beautiful. His sense of duty to his fellowman is admirable. While he was out to fight for truth and justice, the knowledge that victory was pretty near impossible never swayed him. He understood that the Tom Robinson case was more than defending an innocent black man – as important as that was – it was about proving that his morals were more than just talk. Many people talk big but fail miserably when faced with the hard test. Atticus may not have won the case for Tom, but he proved that as long as there were others like himself who were willing to sacrifice all for the sake of justice, racial equality would eventually become a reality.
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
If you have never read this book, I HIGHLY recommend it!! And then watch the movie :).