Who wrote this book and when?
Has there been a movie made of it?
Trust me, rent the movie of this novel…but after you’ve read it. I’m a firm believer in reading a book before seeing the movie, even more so in this case. The absolute BEST version (and only version I know of) of this movie stars Gregory Peck and was made in 1962.
Jem Finch – Scout’s older brother
Atticus Finch – Scout and Jem’s father, a single father and a lawyer (and personally, now one of my all-time favorite literary characters)
Arthur “Boo” Radley – the mysterious man no one has really seen, who lives on the same street as the Finches
Tom Robinson – a black man accused of attacking and raping a white woman, Atticus is his lawyer
Dill Harris – Jem and Scout’s best friend who can only visit in the summer
What’s it about?
This is a coming-of-age story (a bildungsroman for you English buffs), told from Scout’s point of view. Scout and Jem are raised by their father, Atticus, in a 1930’s southern town. The first part of the book introduces the character of Boo Radley, the frightening man who lives down the street from them. Boo never leaves his house, and none of the children have seen him so naturally they believe he is a murderer who cut his father into little pieces. They, along with their friend Dill, attempt to befriend him by poking notes through the windows and accepting gifts he leaves for them in the hollow of a tree in his yard. After a few months of this, they even attempt to sneak into his house at night and are nearly shot. Atticus puts a stop to it, sternly admonishing them for torturing Boo.
Jem begins to grow up and distance himself from Scout, and she is at a loss as to understand why he begins to act the way he does. At this crucial moment in Jem’s life, Atticus is assigned to defend a black man who has been accused of attacking and raping a white woman named Mayella Ewell. Atticus knows defending Tom Robinson is a hopeless cause, but he tries his very best to be a good example for his children. He knows the entire town is set against Tom even though it is obvious Tom could not have attacked the woman considering his left arm is useless. Atticus, Jem, Scout and those who are close to them are forced to deal with the strong racism in Maycomb which comes to a climax with this trial and its consequences.
Why is this book a classic?
This book is written precisely how you would expect a child to write about their experiences once they’ve grown up. It’s perfect. And because of the child’s point of view it employs, we are allowed to see racism portrayed in the most scrutinizing and unbiased of lights. It’s not hard to read, but it’s still a heavy book, concept wise.
Why should I read this book?
You will be missing out on one of the greatest books ever written if you don’t read it. It would be a good break from textbooks if you’re a highschool or college student and haven’t been asked to read it before. You’ll enjoy it, trust me.
Has it won any awards?
The book won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1961. The character of Atticus Finch was named the greatest movie hero of the 20th century by the American Film Institute. The movie version with Gregory Peck won the following awards:
-Golden Globe for Best Film Promoting International Understanding
-Academy Award for Best Actor (Gregory Peck)
-Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama (Gregory Peck)
-Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay
-Deemed “Culturally Significant” by the Library of Congress and preserved in the National Film Registry
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I loved this book. So much in fact, I read it twice – just started over at the beginning once I ended it. I knew I would love it when I started it because I’ve watched the movie and I love the movie. So read this book. And THEN watch the movie.