I know I have to still write about Charles Dicken’s Great Expectation and I promise I will do it this week for sure. But while I drown myself in my other life, aka, the Project Manager, this Meme, I just could not let go! So Classic Club’s 2013 July Meme is –
I was 14 when I read this book – a very impressionable age and this book was way beyond the 14 years old reader – it had rape, violence, racial discrimination and per Wikipedia, destruction of innocence (though I have never felt that; to me it was more of coming of age!). So what book was this when all my peers were reading Ann of Green Gables? It was called – To Kill a Mockingbird. And I am darn glad that I read it and that too when I was 14!
To Kill a Mockingbird is more than an everyday story of fighting for the rights of less privileged. It’s more than a story of black versus white, rich versus poor! It’s a story of moral courage and about being brave when you are most afraid (Yes! I know George R R Martin wrote that in Games of Throne, but I am really talking about the principle of the thing!). The book is filled with acts of honor and valor even when they count for nothing. For instance when Atticus forces Jem to read to Mrs. Dubose because she is dying, though she has done nothing to deserve such kindness. It’s about winning people over through bravery and honest conduct. It is about winning, when you have lost everything! It’s about compassion, not pity for your fellow beings – my favorite motto in the world is what Atticus says to Scout “you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb around in his skin and walk around in it”. All this while, the book remains warm, humorous and very personal. There are everyday events out of our daily life – again one of the parts that I relate to most is when Scout talks about her reading – she could not recollect when she had not read with Atticus. I know the feeling, like I said before; I never realized when my father’s moving fingers over the words became my own to read.
This book may not have defined my social or political mores when I was 14. But it did go a long way in making me an egalitarian advocating liberalist who believes in equality for all and standing up for what you belive in no matter what the cost. In my small way, I find at times speaking up for what right may cost you something – relationship, money, promotion. But this book made me understand one very important kernel of truth when very young – unless I can look myself in the eye, nothing is worth it!
Viva Ms. Harper Lee. You wrote only one book, but boy! That book challenged our thoughts and forced many to reckon with what they thought was right and what was actually right! It gave impetus to the Civil Rights Movement and continues to inspire generations of lawyers and humanitarians!
P.S. now you know where the “Mockingbirds” in my blog’s name came from!