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Monday, January 9, 2017

Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird (To Kill a Mockingbird #1)To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Considering this book was published in 1960 and that too written by a female author, I'm surprised it actually saw print. The themes covered in the book are extremely important and are as vital to be discussed today as they were at that time.

The book is about one Atticus Finch, a practicing lawyer in a small town in the state of Alabama, and is told in the first person narrative of his daughter, Scout.

One aspect I immediately picked up on when I started reading the book was how Atticus's children addressed him by his first name instead of using the more traditional and widely accepted title, 'Dad'. Although personally I would never go so far as to address my father by his first name, this does touch on one really important idea for me. Pakistan is a country which is practically slave to culture and tradition. Every person whose older is addressed with "respect" which is generally conveyed to the recipient via a title e.g. Bhai (brother) and Baji (sister). In my opinion, the minute such a title is attached to someone whose only older in age and not necessarily in experience and mental capacity, much of the young'un's opinion is discredited and would most likely be looked at through skepticism and, in some cases, ridicule. Once individuals are past a certain age, all immediate relationships should be on a first name basis with the discourses and general banter carried out as equals. Atticus is the perfect father who gives his children the importance they deserve and hence both kids never shy away from voicing their opinions throughout the book. Obviously, there's a fine line between utter disrespect emanating from hubris and being vocal enough with enough humility.

The major theme that the book expertly negotiates is the inherent relativity of right and wrong. This sentiment is reflected in the title as well and the quote, "Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird", explains it all the more. Bob Ewell is one such character that epitomizes this statement. The circumstances he's killed in and the subsequent reaction of Atticus in bringing Jem Finch (his son) to task since he suspects his hand in the death of Bob, and how Heck Tate, the Sheriff, asks Atticus to simply lay off and to let it go because Bob Ewell's death is actually service to the society. The conversation between Tate and Atticus is wrought with ideas which one would be able to uncover the more they read and discuss it. Absorbing the whole book and what it stands for is quite difficult after just a single read. It is a piece of literature that should be read at all phases of life.

Atticus's message in the book is simple and yet one of the most difficult to adhere to, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." This one statement encompasses almost everything that is wrong with a society like Pakistan today. And a similar stream of intolerance seems to seeping back into the Western societies that have tried so hard to rid themselves of it albeit a farcical underlying rhetoric which has been all the more validated by the likes of Donald Trump. It is high time we look at ourselves and strive to make this world a better and a more tolerant place to live in for our progeny. A child is incapable of hating however they do learn. Be the Atticus in their lives and expound sound and forbearing advice to them so they can return the favor by becoming the seeds of change.

This book can be read casually or part of study. I would recommend to everyone to definitely give this book a shot; rest assured they'll take away their own version of it which undoubtedly would be positive in complexion.

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