My Personal Challenge – To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee


“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

a lawyer’s advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee’s classic novel – a black man charged with rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the ’30s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man’s struggle for justice. But the weight of history will only tolerate so much.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, an anti-racist novel, a historical drama of the Great Depression, and a sublime example of the Southern writing tradition.

My Thoughts

This book moved me in a more profound way than I ever thought imaginable. It was refreshing to me to read from the perspective of an adult child. Allow me to explain. Scout and Jem are very much so children. However, they have a profound understanding of the world around them. Atticus does not sugar coat much to them. These children are viewing the world as an adult would – two unprejudiced adults.

Their response to the goings on at the Tom Robinson trial definitely pulled at my heart strings. Both children – and their little buddy Dill – were hoping for justice, they were hoping the good people of Maycomb would do the right thing. Here, the right thing is acquitting a man who did not commit the crime he was charged with. What they face is a brutal reality.

Their town isn’t as “grand” as they were hoping. In the end, the children still see a tale of black versus white, with the white man coming out on top. Jem takes this much harder than Scout, though she fully understand the implications of this judgement. The children are left to question how good people could do such a horrible thing to an innocent man. To these children, the colour of his skin is of no concern, Tom is innocent, and that’s all that should matter.

In a very prejudiced world, these children were raised to accept all human beings as just that – humans.

Tom Robinson’s case isn’t the only factor at play here that truly played at my emotions. Mr. Arthur Radley is the unlikely hero of this tale. He saves the children – children who, for lack of a better term, harassed him due to their curiosity of him. Arthur, or Boo, comes to accept these children as his friends, and he saves them from grave danger.

There is no act of kindness stronger than this one. He saves two children who have been after him for the better part of the whole novel, because he knew it was the right thing to do.

In the end, it all boils down to doing the right thing. Atticus does the right thing in defending an innocent man. The children do the right thing by accepting all people as equals and humans. Boo Radley does the right thing by saving their lives.

I hope others take the same lesson from this book that I did – do not judge a person until you have crawled into their skin, walked in their shoes, and seen the world from their perspective.



~ by Aubrey Smith on September 30, 2011.

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