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To Kill a Mockingbird (New Windmills) (original 1960; edition 1966)

by Harper Lee

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48,42191312 (4.4)2 / 1776
Member:aixakjacobs
Title:To Kill a Mockingbird (New Windmills)
Authors:Harper Lee
Info:Heinemann (1966), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Family, Youth, Justice, Childhood, History

Work details

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)

  1. 262
    A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (loriephillips)
  2. 2814
    The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd (Caramellunacy, rosylibrarian)
    Caramellunacy: Both stories are about a young girl in the South coming to terms with racism. Secret Life of Bees features an teenaged protagonist whereas To Kill a Mockingbird's Scout is quite a bit younger, but I thought there were themes that resonated between the two.… (more)
  3. 228
    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (paulkid)
    paulkid: There are many similarities between these books. For example, a strong father-daughter relationship, where the father teaches by example by taking the moral high ground in protecting a persecuted minority - also kids that break down the barriers between secluded and socially awkward neighbors through books and sundry shenanigans.… (more)
  4. 217
    The Heart is A Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (dele2451, rosylibrarian, chrisharpe)
  5. 164
    Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (Caramellunacy, Anonymous user, Anonymous user)
    Caramellunacy: Both stories about a young girl coming of age in the South and racial intolerance. Also both beautiful reads! To Kill a Mockingbird is told by Scout Finch - the daughter of the town lawyer called upon to defend an African-American man accused of rape. Roll of Thunder is told from the point of view of the daughter of a cotton-picking family who only slowly grows to realize the extent of prejudice her family faces.… (more)
  6. 133
    Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel by David Guterson (EerierIdyllMeme)
    EerierIdyllMeme: Very different novels exploring similar themes
  7. 100
    Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (wisewoman)
    wisewoman: These books share a precocious narrator, vital family relationships, and themes that are funny and sad and thought provoking all at the same time. Extremely well written and engaging.
  8. 100
    Native Son by Richard Wright (DanLovesAlice)
    DanLovesAlice: An African-American facing an uphill battle against a highly prejudiced jury and public. Wright, like Lee, explores the dangers of the stereotypes created by insular and ignorant societies.
  9. 80
    Other Voices, Other Rooms by Truman Capote (Othemts)
    Othemts: These books are two sides of the same coin of life in a small Alabama town. Where there's dignity and hope in Mockingbird, Other Voices is decadence and demoralization
  10. 83
    Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns (bnbookgirl)
  11. 51
    Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian (eclt83)
    eclt83: Goodnight, Mr Tom is as touching as To kill a mockingbird. Problems in society causes pain for the weaker.
  12. 51
    Inherit the Wind by Jerome Lawrence (kxlly)
  13. 40
    The Stones Of Mourning Creek by Diane Les Becquets (Sadie-rae_Kieran)
    Sadie-rae_Kieran: Similar setting, 1960's in the south. Deals with some similar issues as well,including racism/discrimination. Though sad at times, a beautiful and touching story.
  14. 41
    Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson (chrisharpe)
  15. 74
    A Painted House by John Grisham (infiniteletters)
  16. 41
    A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines (rarm)
  17. 31
    Home by Toni Morrison (Louve_de_mer)
    Louve_de_mer: Pour les problèmes de ségrégation raciale aux États-Unis.
  18. 31
    The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter van Tilburg Clark (mysterymax)
    mysterymax: This book also explores mob/vigilante thinking and is a classic in its own way.
  19. 64
    The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy (aamirq)
  20. 31
    Scottsboro Boy by Haywood Patterson (lilithcat)
    lilithcat: For the real story of race relations in Alabama in the thirties, read this autobiography of Haywood Patterson, one of several young black men judicially railroaded for the rape of two young white women, and sentenced to death. A national and international campaign ultimately resulted in their exonerations, but their lives had already been destroyed.… (more)

(see all 39 recommendations)

Romans (41)
1960s (157)
Unread books (1,151)
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Showing 1-5 of 878 (next | show all)
I don’t suppose there is really anyone out there who doesn’t know the story of To Kill a Mockingbird. A coming of age story set in 1930’s Alabama of racial injustice and friendship that is enduringly poignant, powerful and deeply touching. Scout Finch is our feisty little tomboy narrator, she is just six when the story opens, though closer to nine during the main part of the narrative, she loves and looks up to her older brother Jem and together they get into many childhood scrapes. It is tkam3through Scouts eyes that we see the small Southern town of Maycomb, and its inhabitants. Scout and Jem live with their father, Atticus the town lawyer and are cared for by Calpurnia the loving, no nonsense housekeeper come nanny. Summers are the children’s favourite times, no school and days of freedom, and it also the time when Dill comes to stay with his Aunt Rachel. Dill is from Mississippi, and they three become fast friends when they first meet by Miss Rachel’s wire fence. One of the houses within sight of the Finch’s front porch is the Radley house. Arthur Radley – nicknamed Boo Radley by the town’s children hasn’t been seen outside the house in many years, and the children have woven spine tingling stories around the recluse, daring each other to run up and touch the house. Dill is particularly keen to come up with a plan that will lure Boo Radley out of the house. Atticus Finch, a caring, wise, deeply moral man, (maybe the best father in literature) wastes no time in letting the children know how deeply he disapproves of this game. Soon the children start finding small gifts left in a hole in the tree that stands on the corner of the Radley property, instinctively Scout knows who left them and feels a special connection with the man behind the closed shutters of the Radley house. Everything begins to change for Scout and Jem when they are made aware of tensions between Atticus and some of the townspeople.

“Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.”

Tom Robinson, a local black man has been accused of raping a white woman. Appointed by the courts, Atticus is working to defend the man, and there are many who don’t believe he should be. Atticus is principled and conscientious and he intends to do his job properly and fairly, no matter what some of his neighbours might think. This is a time when the word of a white man – no matter who that white man might be and how little he is respected by his peers – carries more weight than that of tkam2an honourable black man. Scout and Jem, learn some hard lessons about life, injustice and how you need to walk in someone else’s shoes before you begin to judge them. Their childhood is halted for a while, as the tensions of the town begin to get personal and the trial gets underway.

“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? Scout, I think I’m beginning to understand something. I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time. It’s because he wants to stay inside.”

I won’t say any more – just in case there is anyone who doesn’t know or has forgotten how things end – but for me the ending is sheer simple perfection. There is a wonderful wisdom and pathos in this novel, in Scout, Jem and Atticus Finch, Harper Lee created a little family the reader can’t help but want to be a part of. I may need to find a copy of that old film to watch now – it is also many, many years since I watched it,and I am even considering buying a nice new shiny edition to replace my very battered old copy (which I will probably keep too). ( )
  Heaven-Ali | Jul 2, 2015 |
A masterpiece. ( )
  Carrie88 | Jul 1, 2015 |
Not all books repay rereading; this one does. Harder Lee's 1960 novel is considered a masterpiece of American literature - it won the Pulitzer Prize - and has been part of the school curriculum in America and the UK for many years. Disliking the public scrutiny publication brought, Harper Lee has since stayed out of the spotlight, refusing all interviews since 1964, and has never published another novel. (Though this has changed with the discovery of her earlier work 'To Set a Watchman'.) I have taught this novel many times to groups of 15 and 16 year olds and they are always keen to discuss the issues raised within.

== What's it about? ==

Jem and Scout Finch are growing up motherless in Southern America during the depression in the 1930s. Their father, Atticus Finch, is a dedicated, decent lawyer who wants to set his children a good example. This is why, when a local black man, Tom Robinson, is unfairly accused of raping a white teenage girl, Mayella Ewell, Atticus feels obliged to accept a case he is sure - due to the deep-seated racism in his community - he cannot win. The novel follows Tom's trial, its aftermath and the effects on Atticus' children.

== What's it like? ==

A bit of a slow-burner. Narrated in the first-person by a smart six-year-old girl (Scout) the novel is primarily a Bildungsroman - a tale of personal development and maturation. The novel opens with Scout setting the scene by describing the town, which becomes a character in its own right, then focuses on Scout's formal education, her relationship with her father and brother, and the siblings' relationships with a visitor to town, Dill (said to be based on Truman Capote, a childhood friend of Lee's), and a reclusive man known as 'Boo' Radley.

The opening chapters set the scene effectively and prepare the reader well for later events, but it's not until the trial begins that the book becomes compelling in terms of its plot. (Given the evidence, the reader desperately wants Tom to be found innocent.) It's worth being patient, and less effort than the notion of 'patience' suggests; the narration is easy to follow while always remaining both interesting and realistic.

Although Scout narrates the book with the benefit of hindsight, deliberately selecting her starting point, she is still only nine or so years old when supposedly writing and this allows Lee to contrast the innate innocence of childhood with the disturbed moral values of most of the adults around her. Scout often fails to understand what she hears, leaving the reader to bridge the gap with their more advanced comprehension of the way adults think and react. As the book progresses, the gap in understanding between Scout and Jem develops as he begins to grasp the way his society operates. This is skilfully revealed by Lee through several episodes which reveal Jem's growing sense of responsibility and adoption of adult concerns, culminating in (according to Scout) 'the greatest betrayal of our childhood'. I particularly enjoy this aspect of the story - the way the reader can see Scout and Jem learning as a result of their experiences.

It's worth noting that despite her youth and naïvety, Scout's vocabulary is sufficiently advanced that I always had to issue my classes with glossaries to support their understanding! This is not to say that the language used is overly complex, and I would not anticipate adults experiencing any difficulties, but Scout has an impressive vocabulary for someone so unenamoured of formal education! (It is an amusing footnote, I think, that a book in which formal education is portrayed as, at best, a waste of time and, at worst, an opportunity to reinforce prejudices, has been so widely taught.)

The trial forms the heart of the book and is comprised primarily of dialogue. Readers cannot help but 'root' for Atticus and Tom, despite knowing how events are likely to end. Setting the book in a time frame twenty-five years before it was published allowed Lee to show Americans how much progress had been made - and how much there still was to make. Tom Robinson's predicament was inspired by several cases of injustice Lee was aware of, including the infamous Scottsboro case in which several black men were convicted of raping a white woman on negligible evidence. This real life context makes Tom's case more chilling: contemporary readers would have understood just how severe his predicament was; modern readers may not find the storyline as powerful if they are unaware of key historical factors such as the power wielded by the Ku Klux Klan and the very real danger of being lynched.

It is a testament to Lee's own sense of fairness that very few characters are entirely unsympathetic. Mayella is as much a victim as Tom, and even her brutal father, Bob, is clearly, in some ways, a victim of his circumstances - though this doesn't justify his actions. Lee clearly believes most people are redeemable. One character in particular develops from being a key leader in a threatening mob, to a stubborn advocator for justice. This is why a novel that could be perceived as simply very dark succeeds in creating such positive feelings. (Similarly, no character is unconvincingly perfect. Atticus is a flawed father as much as he is a brave lawyer.)

'To Kill a Mockingbird' is frequently lauded as an anti-racist text, but there is much more to it than this (admittedly very important) theme. The title itself refers to Harper Lee's most significant idea: it is a sin to kill a mockingbird - or any creature who seeks only to spread joy to others. There are many characters within the story who could be considered mockingbirds, which is one of the reasons the text works well in classrooms: it inspires debate and discussion. It would work very well as a book group choice.

Other themes tackled include sexism, as Scout is instructed in how to be a lady by her Aunt Alexandra, classism, the true meaning of courage, and empathy for all, including miserable old ladies. All themes are consistently integrated into the narrative structure and, unlike some equally famous books, the reader never feels like they are simply being hit over the head with a moral lesson.

== Final thoughts ==

This book is deservedly a classic which is well-worth a place on everyone's book-case.

It has been the subject of some controversy recently due to its use of the N-word, but this is one of those occasions when it would be inappropriate to change the original text. Besides which, the word is already used it a way that makes it clear the author does not condone its use or its associations.

Read this if:

- you enjoy stories following individual moral development and / or narrated by flawed narrators who require the reader to think a little;
- you like stories set in the deep American south featuring injustice, bravery and realistic characters;
- you have to because it's assigned on your syllabus!

Avoid this if:

- erm...you find reading about injustice too depressing. (Although there's quite a bit of justice, too.) ( )
  brokenangelkisses | Jun 30, 2015 |
Rated as one of the best books ever written, I now know why. Set in a small town in southern Alabama during the height of the great depression, the story emphasizes some of the best qualities of human beings and contrasts these with some of the worst. Told in retrospect from the viewpoint of Jean Louise Finch, known as Scout, from the summer before she started school until a little after she started third grade, "To Kill a Mockingbird" chronicles the daily lives of the Finches and the happenings in and around Maycomb county. Scout tells the story almost as she is writing a diary. From the summer before she started first grade when she met Charles Baker Harris, who went by Dill and became her best summer time friend, until Halloween of her third grade year and a night that would forever change her family.

Scout tells the story in a somewhat naïve manner that is at time heart warming and other times comedic.She recounts the summers spent with Dill and Jem fondly, and Dill was forever plotting ways for them to catch a glimpse of the town's boogeyman, Arthur "Boo" Radley. Her story takes us back to a time when the entire country was struggling, where children respected their elders, honesty was tangible and people could actually go to bed without locking their doors and still feel safe. But while these virtues were extolled, humanity's rotten underbelly was exposed in the form prejudice and hatred.

While Scout recalls the lazy days of summer fun and tediousness of school, the focus of the story changes to Atticus, her attorney father, and his desire to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. Despite Atticus's assurances that the town people were their friends, the entire Finch family suffers backstabbing remarks and innuendos. The outcome of the trial was a foregone conclusion, yet Atticus had made enemies from his desire to see all men equal under the law.

Some people also find out that what's right and the law are sometimes two different things, and sometimes justice just has a way of sneaking up on us. And to my mind, two quotes get to the heart of the matter in this book. First, sheriff Heck Tate explains to Atticus, "To my way of thinkin’, Mr. Finch, taking the one man who’s done you and this town a great service an’ draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight— to me, that’s a sin. It’s a sin and I’m not about to have it on my head. If it was any other man it’d be different. But not this man, Mr. Finch.” And second, when Atticus asks if Scout understood what the sheriff meant, she replied “'Yes sir, I understand, Mr. Tate was right.' Atticus disengaged himself and looked at me. 'What do you mean?' 'Well, it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?'”

Lee, Harper (2014-07-08). To Kill a Mockingbird (Harperperennial Modern Classics) (p. 370). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Lee, Harper (2014-07-08). To Kill a Mockingbird (Harperperennial Modern Classics) (pp. 369-370). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
  NPJacobsen | Jun 18, 2015 |
Great classic, even though I had to read it in HS. Definitely worth a re-read. ( )
  jms001 | Jun 14, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 878 (next | show all)
A book that we thought instructed us about the world tells us, instead, about the limitations of Jim Crow liberalism in Maycomb, Alabama.
 
Its sentiments and moral grandeur are as unimpeachable as the character of its hero, Atticus. ... It's time to stop pretending that "To Kill a Mockingbird" is some kind of timeless classic that ranks with the great works of American literature. Its bloodless liberal humanism is sadly dated, as pristinely preserved in its pages as the dinosaur DNA in "Jurassic Park."
 
Author Lee, 34, an Alabaman, has written her first novel with all of the tactile brilliance and none of the preciosity generally supposed to be standard swamp-warfare issue for Southern writers. The novel is an account of an awakening to good and evil, and a faint catechistic flavor may have been inevitable. But it is faint indeed; Novelist Lee's prose has an edge that cuts through cant, and she teaches the reader an astonishing number of useful truths about little girls and about Southern life.
added by Shortride | editTime (pay site) (Aug 1, 1960)
 
There are some improbable and sentimental moments in the story, but there are also great moments of laughter that belong to memory and a novelist's hand... Miss Lee's original characters are people to cherish in this winning first novel by a fresh writer with something significant to say, South and North.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times, Herbert Mitgang (pay site) (Jul 13, 1960)
 
The dialogue of Miss Lee's refreshingly varied characters is a constant delight in its authenticity and swift revelation of personality. The events connecting the Finches with the Ewell-Robinson lawsuit develop quietly and logically, unifying the plot and dramatizing the author's level-headed plea for interracial understanding... Moviegoing readers will be able to cast most of the roles very quickly, but it is no disparagement of Miss Lee's winning book to say that it could be the basis of an excellent film.
 

» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lee, Harperprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brouwer, AafkeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
D'Agostino Schanzer, AmaliaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edinga, HansTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Elster, MagliTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
French, AlbertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
French, AlbertIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gry SønstengTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hausser, IsabellePostfacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, DavidIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malignon, ClaireTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porta, BaldomeroTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prichard, RosesNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sergel, ChristopherAdaptersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spacek, SissyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Spacek, SissyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoianov, IsabelleTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stoianova, ITranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Szymański, (tłumacz). MaciejTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westerlund, MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westerlund, MaijaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Westrup, Jadwiga P.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Lawyers, I suppose, were children once.
~ Charles Lamb
Dedication
For Mr. Lee and Alice
in consideration of Love & Affection
First words
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
Please spare Mockingbird an Introduction. (From the Foreword by Harper Lee)
Quotations
Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.
People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.
They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions, but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience.
Not from, but about To Kill a Mockingbird, with apologies:

Monroeville, Alabama
January, 1966

Editor, The News Leader:

Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board’s activities, and what I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.

Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that “To Kill a Mockingbird” spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners. To hear that the novel is “immoral” has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of doublethink.

I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.

Harper Lee
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.' To Kill A Mockingbird is a coming of age story set in the deep south during the time of the Great Depression. Atticus Finch, father of Scout and Jem decides to represent a black man, accused of raping a white woman, in court. Although this stirs up the town during a much heated and racist time during America's history, it sheds a light on the hostility of the south during the 1930's. Filled with insight and suspense, To Kill A Mockingbird is a timeless story that any one can learn something from.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446310786, Mass Market Paperback)

"When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.... When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out."

Set in the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the Depression, To Kill a Mockingbird follows three years in the life of 8-year-old Scout Finch, her brother, Jem, and their father, Atticus--three years punctuated by the arrest and eventual trial of a young black man accused of raping a white woman. Though her story explores big themes, Harper Lee chooses to tell it through the eyes of a child. The result is a tough and tender novel of race, class, justice, and the pain of growing up.

Like the slow-moving occupants of her fictional town, Lee takes her time getting to the heart of her tale; we first meet the Finches the summer before Scout's first year at school. She, her brother, and Dill Harris, a boy who spends the summers with his aunt in Maycomb, while away the hours reenacting scenes from Dracula and plotting ways to get a peek at the town bogeyman, Boo Radley. At first the circumstances surrounding the alleged rape of Mayella Ewell, the daughter of a drunk and violent white farmer, barely penetrate the children's consciousness. Then Atticus is called on to defend the accused, Tom Robinson, and soon Scout and Jem find themselves caught up in events beyond their understanding. During the trial, the town exhibits its ugly side, but Lee offers plenty of counterbalance as well--in the struggle of an elderly woman to overcome her morphine habit before she dies; in the heroism of Atticus Finch, standing up for what he knows is right; and finally in Scout's hard-won understanding that most people are essentially kind "when you really see them." By turns funny, wise, and heartbreaking, To Kill a Mockingbird is one classic that continues to speak to new generations, and deserves to be reread often. --Alix Wilber

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:38 -0400)

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The explosion of racial hate in an Alabama town is viewed by a little girl whose father defends a black man accused of rape.

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