11 Jan 2021. by Yolanda van Riel. Our book club met virtually to discuss our latest read – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
As we began the discussion of a book that most of us had as required reading in our youth, we noted that our perception of the book as well as our perspectives had evolved. Since we were reading for pleasure and not for a grade, we found that we truly enjoyed the book even though some of the images and passages were quite disturbing.
The book was full of “southernisms” and local dialect that made it a bit more difficult for some of our members to grasp the full intention of parts of the dialogue. This book is considered a classic but still felt relevant in its powerful descriptions of race, class and gender bias.
To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, was Harper Lee’s first novel and was instantly successful. It has become a classic of modern American literature, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Literature in 1961.
But what is the book actually about…
‘Shoot all the Bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a Mockingbird.’ Lawyer Atticus Finch gives this advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much…
As with most of our book selections, this one sparked interesting conversations, personal comparisons and debates over select passages in the book. If you have never read To Kill a Mockingbird, I highly recommend it. It is enlightening and shows that although things have changed, they haven’t really changed at all.