Wednesday, April 11, 2012

To Kill A Mockingbird

My favorite book of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird. (TKAM)  How fortunate am I to teach that novel every year?  I never tire of it.  Best.job.ever.

What do I love about TKAM?

Two plot lines that seem unrelated mesh to form one of the best endings of a book that I have ever read.

All of the hatred and racism is seen through the eyes of children.  And because of that, the novel is funny and heartwarming. (Scout takes up cussing to avoid going to school: "Pass the damn ham."  They watch a neighbor pee off of his porch, and the boys start having contests to see who can go further.  They roll in tires, make up games, and try to peek in the window of the neighborhood recluse.)  Such a serious subject is still serious, and maybe more so because they are kids trying to understand an unspeakable situation and it is intermingled with their childish ways.  

The view of a "one size fits all" education didn't work in the 1930's, and it doesn't work today.  (And when will the Powers That Be realize that?)

Organized religion doesn't fair much better than education.  The Christians of the town don't act very Christian, and most of the problems with one local family are probably directly tied to the father's austere view of how life should be lived according to his religion.  The ladies of the missionary circle are vicious, gossipy, and blind to the needy in their own community.

Atticus Finch.  He is the most unforgettable character in the book and the movie, and maybe the most unforgettable character in modern literature.  He is the parent every parent wishes that they could be.  Actually, he is the person we all aspire to be.

TKAM is a finely crafted novel.  Every chapter has a conflict and a resolution.  Each of those chapters are creating the two major conflicts of the novel that lead to a resolution that pulls it all together.  I am amazed every time I finish reading it. 

All that being said, I am not a huge fan of the movie.  I love Gregory Peck's portrayal of Atticus, but other than that I think the ending of the movie is far less believable than the book.  They left out too many things to make it plausible


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