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Book review: To kill a Mockingbird.

By Mike Derderian Star Staff Writer Anyone reading Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winner novel To kill a Mockingbird can easily relate its social and political undertones to what is happening in the modern world. At a time when Martin Luther King's African-American civil rights movement was starting to take shape and power, Harper Lee decided to transcend the racial boundaries of the American society by relating the judicial proceedings taking place in a small Southern town and its repercussions on the lives of its simple folk. Only a year after its publishing back in July 11, 1960, the 309-paged novel that was an immediate hit among American readers, won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Two years later and after Lee earned her fair share of literary accolades, the book was made into a successful movie starring Gregory Peck, Robert Duvall, Mary Badham, Phillip Alford, Frank Overton and Brock Peters. To Kill A Mockingbird is the story of a little Alabama town called Maycomb, where Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, her older brother Jem and their childhood friend Dill have spent many summers playing, parodying their neighbors in the backyard of their home and trying to abide by the wise and cautioning words of their caring father Atticus Finch. A middle-aged widower and a defense lawyer Atticus Finch with the help of his loyal housemaid Calprunia raised his two children. Atticus has become known among locals over the years as a respectable man of few words. Now, even though his actions aren't heroic in the physical sense, within courtroom walls his words and measures are of no less importance and valiance.Due to his long experience in law and the fact that no one is willing to defend a Negro, he is assigned to a rape case in which Tom Robinson, a farm hand, is accused of molesting and raping a young white woman, Mayella Violet Ewell. Facing the hatred and prejudice of the Ewells that is headed by Bob Ewell, a mean racist man, who would do anything to achieve his purposes, Atticus does his best to defend Tom. For a narrator Harper chose Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, who happens to be one of the colorful characters in the book. Younger than Jem but older than Dill, Scout manages to draw out our utmost attention by her elaborate, humorous and enjoyable narratives on the Finch's familial life at Maycomb. Scout's narration is what brightens and softens the cruel undertones of the novel that reveals to the reader how "Negroes", as referred to in the book, were unjustly treated by a society dominated by "white" men.As more events are revealed to us during the trial of Tom we become more convinced that the 12-person jury judicial system prosecuting Tom is dysfunctional despite Judge Taylor's sympathetic stances with the latter and his perseverant lawyer. Lee, with a writer's vigil, shifts us between the adult world of Maycomb and the childhood world of our three little characters Jem, Scout and Dill, who slowly grow up with every turn of a page. To Kill a Mockingbird is never tedious and is highly enjoyable especially in the parts when our three little kids try to qualm their fears from the town's suburban legend Arthur "Boo" Radley by chasing after him and trying to unveil the mystery behind his secluded homebound existence.The book's courtroom drama is as highly enjoyable and keeps one anxious to reach the paragraph where the verdict on Tom is announced. After reading the paragraph detailing Atticus' sharp cross-examination of the Ewells, one cannot but admire the man. Lee's novel also shows us how a brother and a sister gradually grow apart seeking different interests. As the book nears its end, Scout is still resisting her transformation from a quarrelsome Tomboy to a polite "Little Lady" as her tightlipped Aunt Stephanie Crawford wishes her to do."Shoot all the Blue Jays you want, if you can hit'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a Mockingbird," a line told by Atticus to Jem and Scout after handing Jem a gun that his father gave him in turn a long time ago. The above lines are explained to us on the spot by Atticus; however, as the court hearings proceed and a verdict is eventually reached the kids are left to judge by themselves the real connotations behind their father's words.The novel's wording is simple despite the manner in which it was written to emphasize the Southern roots of the characters. Anyone who is not familiar with the dialect of the South will find it hard time reading the book; but still with a measure of imagination, To kill a Mockingbird becomes an enjoyable read that you won't be able to leave lying unread on a table. A*Book review: To kill a Mockingbird

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Nov 11, 2006
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