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To Kill a Mockingbird (英語) マスマーケット – 1988/10/1
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The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, <EM>To Kill A Mockingbird</EM> became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.<BR/><BR/><BR/> Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, <EM>To Kill A Mockingbird</EM> takes readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.<BR/><BR/><BR/>
But finally I had a chance of reading this and reading after this I felt like I would give more stars than possible .
The patience is utter key in the book. The way every character progress , the way harper Lee have developed each character it's real more than fiction.
Firstly, even though I was always an avid reader, when To Kill A Mockingbird was published it managed to pass me by. It wasn’t being read by my peers and any stir that the film had created was already dwindling by the time I reached the age group to which the book seemed to be appealing. Secondly, it is a book that seems to be better known these days for the film version than for its own merit, which is a shame. The 1962 film depiction, while creditable, is very narrow in its take on the story, focusing on the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. I’ll return to that later. Finally, of course, there are whole generations of people who will not have read the book (or seen the film) as it tends to be contemporary books that are read, while older works are mainly gathering dust on library shelves.
The plot covers many aspects of life in Alabama in the mid 1930s, as seen through the eyes of the protagonist Scout, or Jean Louise Finch to call her by her real name. The nickname is never explained. At the start of the story Scout is 6 years old, two years younger than Harper Lee would have been at this time. She is joined in her adventures by her older brother Jem (Jeremy) and a neighbour’s visiting nephew Dill (Charles Baker Harris). The book is not only a depiction of who two races see each other, it is also how different groups within the white race view each other and an early issue raised is about white poverty during the Depression.
It later emerged that Dill was loosely based on Harper Lee’s real life neighbour Truman Capote, another novelist also recently deceased.
Scout’s father is lawyer Atticus Finch who is also a member of the State Legislature and a much respected member of the community – at least at the start of the book. In real life Harper Lee grew up in Alabama and her father was a lawyer who became caught up in a rape case similar to that featured in the book. Harper Lee may also have been influenced by the trials, in Alabama, of the Scottsboro Boys, concerning the rape of two white women by nine black teenagers. The trials took place in 1931 the original trials are now generally regarded as significant miscarriages of justice.
We join Scout at the start of her schooling where we discover that she is a precocious child, already able to read and write. Some might describe her as old beyond her years. The story then takes us through three years of her life, including the period of the trial and its aftermath.
The use of Scout as the narrator is a very useful tool. As a child she is automatically considered to be naïve, which allows her to ask questions that no adult would think to ask, or maybe dare to ask. This is useful for the reader as the answers usually come from Atticus so we get to know him very well. They are more often avoided if asked of the other adult characters. We can feel Scout’s confusion as she is told by her first grade teacher not to read at home because she’s been taught to read “the wrong way”, which is one of the first narrow minded adult issues she has to deal with.
During the first half of the book black people are barely mentioned. Calpurnia, the Finch’s cook/housekeeper, is black but is very much a part of the Finch family, carrying much of the burden of Scout and Jem’s upbringing to that point. Scout’s mother died when she was quite young and was almost unknown to Scout. Apart from that we hear nothing much about the black community of Maycomb County, as though they are invisible. This is entirely intentional, of course. Black people and white people just didn’t mix. Scout lives in a white neighbourhood, so almost the only black people she ever sees are domestic servants such as Calpurnia and those such as Zeebo, the garbage truck driver, who has to come into the area as part of his duties. She never encounters the majority of the black community who work on the land.
Most of the first part of the story is about the three children and their adventures which, despite the passage of time, are not really any different from those that I enjoyed as a child and which many children still enjoy. In one sub-plot they are much taken by the mysterious figure of their reclusive neighbour, Boo Radley, and spend much of their time devising ways to tempt him from his house.
Later the story turns to the trial of Tom Robinson and we discover some things that the film doesn’t make clear. The first is that Atticus didn’t willingly take on Tom’s defence. He is appointed to it by the County Court judge. The judge’s choice is deliberate of course, he wants Tom to have the best defence possible and Atticus is the man who will deliver that, but we are left with the interesting question: “Would Atticus have taken the case of his own accord?”
The reason I ask this is because the film makes Atticus appear very liberal, almost a man of the future. I think the book shows us a different man. He was liberal by the standards of many of his peers, there is no doubt of that but would he, for example, have voted for John F Kennedy or Barak Obama? I’m not convinced. He believed in justice for all and the equality of all men before the law, but that is not the same as being liberal.
The film also omits some characters who have a considerable influence on Scout, those of Aunt Alexandra and Miss Dubose, for example. I can see the need for the Director of the film to be selective in what sections of the plot are included and which left out, but those decisions are what makes the book superior to the film. I actually rented the film to watch so that I could make those sorts of comparisons for this review.
In the run up to the trial the town is abuzz with gossip and divided in its attitude towards Atticus. Most people recognise that Atticus is just doing his job, but others regard his behaviour as showing favour to black people over white, which was unthinkable. Scout is regularly taunted at school over this matter and is not slow to take up arms in her father’s defence (be prepared for many uses of the “N” word).
This is where the story becomes so contentious, because white attitudes towards black people were just starting to be challenged openly in 1960 when the book was published. Rosa Parks took her famous bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 and the book was published only 5 years before the civil rights marches protesting about black people not being allowed to register to vote in Alabama, despite it being their legal right to do so.
It is of course impossible for Tom Robinson to get a fair trial from an all-white jury in Alabama in the 1930s, so Tom is duly convicted despite there being more than a little doubt over the evidence presented by the two key prosecution witnesses, Bob Ewell and his daughter Mayella, the supposed victim of the rape. Indeed it is key to later events that the pair are shown up to be liars, but that isn’t enough to sway the jury. Indeed Tom is more than a little lucky not to have been lynched before the matter even got to trial.
It could be argued convincingly that it is still hard for a black person to get a fair trial in Alabama, even 80 years after the events depicted in this book, which makes the book as relevant today as it was then.
However, the period in which this book is set is crucial to the way it is told. The last surviving Alabama veteran of the Confederate Army still lived in the town. The parents of most of the characters and some of the older characters, such as Miss Dubose, will have grown up in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, which left two communities struggling to makes sense of what had happened to their way of life. This will have doubtless had a profound effect on the way the white community viewed the black, while the black community discovered that being free was not the same as being equal.
So, is this book still relevant in 2016? I would say it is.
Why have I only given this book four stars? After all, it was seen as one of the great works of the 20th century. Well, it is somewhat dated. I think that if Harper Lee were writing it today (if she were still alive to do so) she would take a whole new approach to get her message across. It is also a matter of expectations. We shouldn’t try to judge the past on the basis of our values in the present. As Atticus Finch himself says, if we want to know a person we have to put on his shoes and walk around in them for a while. If we wish to judge the present then we have a whole lot of new evidence available on which to base our opinions.
Do I recommend the book? Of course I do. My only regret is that I didn’t read it much earlier in my life.
It's written from a little girl's point of view but has amazing thoughts for everyone. Even after being written so many years ago, it still has some very relevant lessons for everyone, there is something for everyone in it! Definitely one of the #mustread books.
Here are some of my favourite #quotes from the book:
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."
"People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for."
"There are just some kind of men who-who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results."
To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on that gut instinct of right and wrong, and distinguishes it from just following the law. Even the titular quote: "Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird" is in itself an allegory for this message. Being in itself a generic message, the idea of 'doing what's right' obviously has a different meaning depending on when and where you're reading the book. If you take 1960, when the book was written, America was in a state of ethical development as social inequality was - very - gradually being overcome. Women's rights and black rights movements were beginning to emerge and some campaigned through violence. Would Atticus Finch condone this?
I quite enjoyed this book. I won't bother telling you what it's about, you either already know or have read some other reviews who have gone into detail about the story.
The cover is beautiful which is an added plus.
Side note: don't bother with Go Set A Watchman. It's not good and changes the opinion of Scout's dad. Plus Harper Lee was not in the position to publish another book. She wrote it before Mockingbird. It was turned down and that's when she made Mocking bird. The draft for Watchman was found by her lawyer and the money grabber published it. Harper Lee had previously (while she was able to) said she didn't want to publish Watchman and that Mockingbird was to be her only published book.
So by all means, enjoy this book but don't buy Watchman.
I am a reader who likes to come back to visit a book and over the years I have come to sit with Scout and Boo Radley. Each time I open the book and re-read the story I discover something new in the chapters, sometimes it is because of my maturity, what I have gained in experience in knowledge and an adult world has given me more insight into the world of the Finch family and how society was in that era and how it still is in today's world, sometimes it is because I am now a parent and can see Atticus's struggles to be a single parent and teach his children to understand how they needed to be true to themselves and not follow society like sheep.
When Harper Lee's new book was released and it came apparent that this book made Atticus into a racist man, I made the choice not to read it. The Atticus who I hero worshipped and respected could not represent Tom Robinson and be racially bigoted it would make a mockery of the 'To Kill A Mockingbird and this new book only came out when Harper Lee had passed away so I believe she never wanted it to be published
I have just re-visited the book once again and once again I have come away with more insight. This book educates the young, helping them understand that the world they are on the verge off is ugly and prejudiced and adults will act at times in behaviours that will disgust them. Adults who read this book will look through the eyes of a child and realise that they are not born with hate and bigotry it is placed there by influence and the world in general. Older adults can make sure that the lessons learnt from this book are as valued now as they were valued in eras before them. This book tells us that we can make changes, maybe small steps as Atticus quoted in the book, when I first read this book we were told being gay was something depraved and disgusting, now gay couples can legally marry. So this book still has the lessons to be learnt through the characters of this story and I will always treasure it.
I can't wait to introduce this book to my grandchildren one day, watch them fall in love with the characters like I did, and then keep the story alive by acknowledging all hatred, prejudice and bigotry must be stopped.
I never read To Kill A Mocking Bird at school so sort to right that wrong. It's regarded as a classic and fully deserves its credentials. It's at once a product of its time but also light years ahead of it.
The world has changed greatly since its firsy publication but the wrongs and attitudes within still sadly prevail.
This earth needs more people like Atticus Finch and I for one shall endeavour to follow on good footsteps.
Worth spending time. a gentle feel-good story. Reminds the friendship which we have lost while growing up.
Great way of telling how a father can influence his child, not by advising but by setting an example.
Covers the problem of blacks in that era.
Then I grew up. The world changed and so did the story.
This is an amazing book that is now taught in schools. I hope the kids enjoy it and aren't scunnered with the analysis for exams. Because this book sings with its detail. Calpurnia taking Scout and Jem to her church. Mayella Ewing watering her geraniums. Atticus being called on to shoot the mad dog. The ladies fanning themselves on their front porches. The view from the Radley House...............
Of course, the BIG question is...why only the one book? When someone who writes like this could've rivalled Shakespeare. Never mind. Buy it if you can, borrow it if you can't. This one you need to read....and, if you can, think of current affairs?
This is a deeply complex novel that moves you on many levels whilst remaining simplistic in view on the surface. It's only later that you realise that it's slipped ideas insidiously into your mind as no doubt it was designed to do. I think if you're an author and you're only ever going to produce one book, you should aim to produce something this good.
Read it when I was thirteen, again now a couple of decades later and probably again in a few years time. I'm sure I'll discover something new then as well.
A work of genius and a damn good read too ... May I, like Scout, say damn?
Well, it is.