4.25.2008

The BBBC: To Kill a Mockingbird

Not too long ago I jumped head first into Depression era Maycomb, Alabama. And I did not want to leave. I wanted to put on denim overalls, peek through Boo Radley's window with Scout, Jem and Dill, eat some of Calpurnia's cooking (after going to church with her) and crawl up on Atticus' lap to read The Mobile Register.

I also wanted to slap (okay...I wanted to shoot) Bob Ewell.

This is at least the second, possibly the third time I have lost myself in Harper Lee's classic novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. Her use of language is so descriptive and vibrant; it soaks into your skin and into your soul. Her words are not just read, they are felt. Even if I had never seen the film, I would still be able to picture Maycomb, Alabama and all of it's colorful characters, through Scout Finch's eyes and heart.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing." Scout, after her first day of school.

"First of all,"he said,"if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--"
"Sir?"
"--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." Atticus Finch

"The remainder of my schooldays were no more auspicious than the first. Indeed, they were an endless Project that slowly evolved into a Unit, in which miles of construction paper and wax crayon were expended by the State of Alabama in its well-meaning but fruitless efforts to teach me Group Dynamics."

"Jack! When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness' sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion quicker than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."

"Atticus was feeble: he was nearly fifty."

"I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."That was the only time I ever hear Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. "Your father's right," she said. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."


"It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do." Atticus Finch to Jem, after Mrs. Dubose died.

"Somewhere, I had received the impression that Fine Folks were people who did the best they could with the sense they had."

"I know what he was trying to do, but Atticus was only a man. It takes a woman to do that kind of work."

"I felt the starched walls of a pink cotton penitentiary closing in on me, and for the second time in my life I thought of running away. Immediately."

"So it took an eight-year old child to bring 'em to their senses, didn't it?" said Atticus. "That proves something--that a gang of wild animals can be stopped, simply because they're still human. Hmp, maybe we need a police force of children." Atticus to Jem.

"He's the same in the courtroom as he is on the public streets." Scout to Dill, about Atticus.

I looked around. They were standing. All around us and in the balcony on the opposite wall, the Negroes were getting to their feet. Reverend Sykes's voice was as distant as Judge Taylor's.
"Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father's passin'."

"As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it-whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash."-Atticus

"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."-Jem

Sorry for the terribly long list, but many things struck me true to Southern behavior or heart wrenchingly poignant. Ms. Lee knew her characters, her town, the *way things were* between classes and colors of people. Hmmm...have things changed much?

It's hard to choose a favorite character, isn't it? Atticus for his integrity and example, Miss Maudie for speaking frankly, Dill for his fragile, but brave fantasies, Jem for working his way through growing up to be a man like his father, Scout for her innocence and precociousness, Boo Radley for being a watchful friend. They all meld together to form an unforgettable milieu. I liked them all (except for those no account Ewells of course), but hands down I enjoyed Scout the most.

What are your favorite quotes? Which character do you relate to best? Why is this story so well-loved?

Let's call the first BBBC meeting to order. The coffee is hot, the low-calorie treats are out(at least for me), let's curl up around our computers and discuss*.

*Please use a permalink when you add your post to Mr. Linky. Don't fret if you are not quite ready with your post today, just add it when you can, no worries.

13 comments:

  1. Hi. I read the book and posted my link. Hope it worked. This rereading was so valuable. I loved seeing life through Scout's eyes. It was fun to go back and be a kid and relearn through her perspective. But I learned the most from Atticus. Ironically, I felt the most compassion and connection with Boo. His sensitivity was subtle but significant, and I was struck at how his character trait influenced the people of his neighborhood and their stories with very little active participation. Thanks for hosting this. I enjoyed my discussion with blueberry muffins. And there's more left over at my site, too!

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  2. Okay, my post is made, I am about to do my link and I am ready for the next book. This one was great in my opinion!

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  3. I loved the way you wrote your review, Holly! I am so glad I re-read this book...it touched me deeply.

    I'm looking forward to the next selection :)

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. So I had to drop in becuase of your profile pic. Such cute hair! I am in desperate need of a spiffy new do.

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  6. Good, good thoughts everyone. It's interesting what you said TJ, about Boo affecting everyone in a subtle way. I didn't think about that, but I agree. His character influenced almost as strongly as the others, even Atticus, but in a much more subtle way.

    I am glad y'all enjoyed rereading this book. Really good literature can, and should, be read at various points in our lives. We will relate differently each time and notice new points.

    Do you think Ms. Lee should have written another book? Or is her story, and Mockinbird's even sweeter because it can't be compared to any of her other work? Imagine the pressure of people wanting, even demanding MORE from her in the years following. One truly great novel is better than a shelf full of mediocre ones.

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  7. Do I get a -10 for not being done with my book on time?? HA HA HA!

    I'm sorry. Love ya!

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  8. I've never read this book, you've peaked my curiosity!

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  9. hey holly, great post. I did get the book read(in just a few days-couldn't put it down! I posted a quick list about it then. I will try to post a more substantial post about it soon. It is just so hard to put into words!)

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  10. Heather: Don't be silly! I do hope you finish it though because it truly is WONDERFUL! :)

    Silken: I'm glad you read it--I couldn't put it down either. I agree it's hard to put into words (at least my own), I think that's why I used so many quotes because Ms. Lee's words are perfect. This little book covers a LOT of life and addresses deep, hard truths about people.

    Patsy: Do add it to your Must Read Soon list. You won't regret it!

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  11. http://communati.com/silken/kill-mockingbird

    that is the url to my post about the book. sorry, right now I can't get the links to work, but I'll get back to it!

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  12. Holly, I too finished the book, but was a few days late in getting the post up. I am enjoyed your review and I enjoyed reading the book again.

    I will try to leave a link:

    my post is here

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