” If there’s just one kind of folks, why can’t they get along with each other? If they’re all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other?” page 251
I’ll start of by telling you that I struggled with this book. I don’t for definite know the reason behind my struggle, I just didn’t want to pick it up after I would put it down, but when I did pick it up I wouldn’t want to put it down. It was for me a hard read, and took me a lot longer then a book of this size usually would. But, I’m still so glad that I read it because I seriously enjoyed this novel.
Harper Lee brings to life a glorious and humorous world of prejudice, race, violence and hypocrisy viewed through a child’s eyes.
When a white young woman is suspected to have been raped by a young black man, tensions fly in a 1930s town stooped with coloured prejudices and incorrect theories and gossip. Where race is what makes you who you are, and family name gives you standing Scout Finch alongside her brother Jem are plunged into an adult world which, quite frankly is just one big mess of grown-up irrational hypocrisy. Where one man, their father, begins to rise against the oh-so-typical standing that white is right and black is well black and therefore wrong and defends the alleged rapist. Scout and Finch must grow and come to terms with a world that doesn’t make any sense. A world that makes no sense, if like these two children you go with your gut instincts of morality.
Although perhaps a six-year-old Scout would not know half the words that come out in the writings of Lee and this does sort of hack away at the believability of it all, you can forgive it. You can forgive it because this book, written in the 1960s gives a voice to the children of generations who didn’t understand (quite rightly) the black and white issue. An issue that wasn’t an issue until they were grown and had the ideas placed in their heads by parents and other elders that mixing black and white was wrong. Until they were brought up to believe that some are born ‘better’ then others, which as a child you don’t even think about. You just want to play, or at least I did. I couldn’t have cared less if my friend was an interesting hue of blue so long as they knew how to play skipping rope.
Lee definitely has a unique way with her words and as she moves through the years within the books, and the difficulties Scout faces firstly from growing up and secondly from the backlash of the trial that brings about dangers of its own. This book is exciting and truly I hated putting it down, which is part of my issue with why I didn’t want to pick it up again afterwards. Part of me says the reason is, was that I had no way of knowing if I was going to like what I read next. I knew from what I had already read that Lee was an exceptional writer and her style and prose had me hooked, but was I, morally going to like what she was writing? Of course for some bits this turned out to be a no, but this book was made to be read.
It was made to be enjoyed and to be understood.
I don’t believe for one moment this is a book that should be forced upon school children, like we had Catcher of the Rye done to us (which still to this day makes me shudder at the sight of it) I think this book should be encouraged as a message. Even today there is a lot of racial tension and prejudice against people of all different colours and nationalities. But from the eyes of a child there is only one question that is asked, and that is why?
Hatred or fear for the sake of hatred or fear is pointless. It has no meaning, but still people fight one another for no clear cut reason other then that person is different.
Harper Lee brings up an interesting point towards the end of her book, and I think this will probably stay with me for a long time. Whilst the youngest Finch, believes that all people are the same the eldest has started to wonder if they are all the same. Because of judgements passed and views full of hatred shown how can people be considered a unified people, if some are not allowed to be a part of it. This idea of growing out of unity really reminded me why its so important that children are taught to accept and be accepted by others because growing up with the notion that others are different in a bad way, is no way to grow up at all.
I thoroughly recommend this book, it simply is wonderful.