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To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee
376 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Clodsley S.

Stunning portrayal of human nature, but too intense for younger kids.

Plot

In the pre-World War II era in Maycomb, Alabama, two young people make their way through their lives. Their problems grow from simple things like making a hermit come out of his house to a court case that gains their father the town's contempt. Their lives begin normally in the sleepy old town and grow into a crisis that may cost their father his reputation.

Morality

Atticus, the children's father, is a lawyer and knows right from wrong. Whenever they disobey him they are chastised and do not do it again. A man who accused an African American man of committing a crime against his daughter seems very prejudiced against the man's race; other characters are obviously prejudiced as well, though perhaps to less violent degrees. Prejudice is a - the, perhaps - major theme in the book.

Spiritual Content

The children, Jem and Scout, go to church with their cook, Calpurnia, and church and Christian values are mentioned throughout the book.

Violence

The children are stalked later on in the story, and it's mentioned that Jem falls out of a tree. Also a death is described, as well as wounds from a beating. Beating and whipping is also mentioned.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A man fakes drunkenness. Other characters are drunk at times. An old lady is addicted to morphine. Beer and whiskey are mentioned. A young boy "smokes string."

Sexual Content

The court case that Atticus is a part of has to do with the rape of a young woman, and this plays a major part in the latter half of the story. Scout is blamed for calling someone a "Wh-re lady" (not knowing what it means) and the word is used in the context of the court case. A man is said to have a mistress and a number of children. A woman is said to have thrown herself at a married man and attempted to seduce him.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

A number of "D-mn"s and "H-ll"s. "N-gger" is used frequently by people who are prejudiced against them. They are also referred to as "Negroes". "B-st-rd" is used once. Scout says crude things in order to get attention, usually not knowing what they mean; Atticus remarks that it is a stage every child goes through, a rather negligent response from a parent.

While neither crude nor profane, some may find the children's habit of calling their father by his first name offensive.

Conclusion

"To Kill A Mockingbird" was not what I expected. I had not expected the writing to be so funny and lighthearted, innocent like in a child's eyes, but still be stunningly and dramatically written. It is in every way a classic about human nature and growing up. Highly recommended for people who love reading classics, and who can handle the mature themes.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: adult

Review Rating:

Average rating: 4 stars
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