How do Scout, Jem, and Dill characterize Boo Radley at the beginning of the book? In what way did Boo's past history of violence foreshadow his method of protecting Jem and Scout from Bob Ewell? Does this repetition of aggression make him more or less of a sympathetic character?
In Scout's account of her childhood, her father Atticus reigns supreme. How would you characterize his abilities as a single parent? How would you describe his treatment of Calpurnia and Tom Robinson vis a vis his treatment of his white neighbors and colleagues? How would you typify his views on race and class in the larger context of his community and his peers?
The title of Lee's book is alluded to when Atticus gives his children air rifles and tells them that they can shoot all the bluejays they want, but "it's a sin to kill a mockingbird." At the end of the novel, Scout likens the "sin" of naming Boo as Bob Ewell's killer to "shootin' a mockingbird." Do you think that Boo is the only innocent, or mockingbird, in this novel?
Scout ages two years-from six to eight-over the course of Lee's novel, which is narrated from her perspective as an adult. Did you find the account her narrator provides believable? Were there incidents orobservations in the book that seemed unusually "knowing" for such a young child? What event or episode in Scout's story do you feel truly captures her personality?
To Kill a Mockingbird has been challenged repeatedly by the political left and right, who have sought to remove it from libraries for its portrayal of conflict between children and adults; ungrammatical speech; references to sex, the supernatural, and witchcraft; and unfavorable presentation of blacks. Which elements of the book — if any — do you think touch on controversial issues in our contemporary culture? Did you find any of those elements especially troubling, persuasive, or insightful?
Jem describes to Scout the four "folks" or classes of people in Maycomb County: "... our kind of folks don't like the Cunninghams, the Cunninghams don't like the Ewells, and the Ewells hate and despise the colored folks." What do you think of the ways in which Lee explores race and class in 1930s Alabama? What significance, if any, do you think these characterizations have for people living in other parts of the world?
One of the chief criticisms of "To Kill a Mockingbird is that the two central storylines — Scout, Jem, and Dill's fascination with Boo Radley and the trial between Mayella Ewell and Tom Robinson — are not sufficiently connected in the novel. Do you think that Lee is successful in incorporating these different stories? Were you surprised at the way in which these story lines were resolved? Why or why not?
By the end of To Kill a Mockingbird, the book's first sentence: "When he was thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow," has been explained and resolved. What did you think of the events that followed the Halloween pageant? Did you think that Bob Ewell was capable of injuring Scout or Jem? How did you feel about Boo Radley's last-minute intervention?
What elements of this book did you find especially memorable, humorous, or inspiring? Are there individual characters whose beliefs, acts, or motives especially impressed or surprised you? Did any events in this book cause you to reconsider your childhood memories or experiences in a new light?
Flower, January 19, 2011 (view all comments by Flower)
Hundreds of reviews have been raving about how this book has “amazing culture”. I am confused by this; by no means is it a beautiful book but it seems like any other book I would read. A brother, a sister, neighbors, and relatives. Jean Louis Finch, aka Scout, is the narrator. She lives with her brother Jem, dad Atticus, and cook Calpurnia. Her dad is a lawyer and throughout the book he is defending a black man. He was convicted of rapping a 19 year old girl. This case posses many challenges for Scout and Jem. During this Scouts neighbor, Ms. Maudie, tells her “Jean Louis, it is a sin to kill a mockingbird,” hence the title. Besides the racism and language in this book it seems like any other little girls life: adventure, heartbreak, schemes, and love. Why they call it an “extraordinary classic” I do not know, but all together I enjoyed reading, “To Kill a Mockingbird”.
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We didn't read this in high school. The assigned book was The Scarlet Letter, which was already a favorite of mine. Recently, however, I decided that I'd ignored To Kill a Mockingbird for too long. If you haven't read it, or if it's been awhile since you last played with Scout, Jem, and Dill, then I urge you to tag along. I read it slowly, as I knew I'd never read it again for the first time. There are no big operatic moments and yet I found myself weeping several times. Its power lies just beneath its deceptively simple sentences. It may be an almost-perfect book.
by Harper Collins,
"Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
A lawyer's 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 rich humor and unswerving honesty the irrationality of adult attitudes toward 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 and quiet heroism of one man's struggle for justice--but the weight of history will only tolerate so much.
One of the best-loved classics of all time, To Kill a Mockingbird has earned many distinctions since its original publication in 1960. It has won the Pulitzer Prize, been translated into more than forty languages, sold more than thirty million copies worldwide, and been made into an enormously popular movie. Most recent, librarians across the country gave the book the highest of honors by voting it the best novel of the century (Library Journal).
HarperCollins is proud to celebrate the anniversary of the book's publication with this special hardcover edition.
A specially packaged, popularly priced hardcover edition of the American classic commemorates the 40th anniversary of its original publication. "That rare literary phenomenon, a Southern novel with no mildew on its magnolia leaves."--"Vogue."
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