BOOK REPORT: To Kill a Mockingbird |Nelle Harper Lee

A Book Report on To Kill a Mockingbird

Published in 1960 and won Pulitzer Prize later, To Kill a Mockingbird is a semi-autobiographical book by Nelle Harper Lee and a classic in American literature. An extraordinary work and probably the most widely read book about racism, it represents the battle of justice and prejudice, goodness and evilness which prevails in humanity from a little girl’s point of view. It covers a span of three years during which both Maycomb, the small town, and people there, especially Scout Finch and her brother Jem underwent significant changes.

Scout Finch, our narrator and protagonist, grew up in a close-knit town of Alabama where people have clear social stations according to their living conditions and their family history in the town. The Finch family fell rather high up in the social hierarchy in this town because of Scout’s father Atticus, an honored man and respectable lawyer. All began in the summer when Dill came and kids enjoyed their adventures with new friends. Despite their age, they knew their neighbors pretty well, except Arthur Radley whose nickname was Boo. They figured him who had been suppressed in his childhood and barely came outside as ugly and scary. It had been their daily venture to try to get him out. When summer ended, school life began. There Scout found those differences and conflicts which she considered normal and natural before become tense and acute. Scout tried to get a conclusion with fist-fighting to understand the way life exist beyond the world she knew. Through the process she went a further step in toleration and learned to see the world in different perspectives. The trail that Atticus took to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, brought dramatic changes to their life. A barrage of racial slurs and insults had been poured upon them because of Atticus’ role in that case, including threats from the accuser’s father Ewell who was a nasty drunkard and fell at the bottom of the social stations as “trash”. However, Atticus insisted his point and explained to kids the reason that he chose to fight for justice both as a lawyer and as a father. On the day of trail, Jem and Scout went to see how the case went. Atticus pointed out the loopholes in Ewells’ testimony with sharp questions and proved with evidence the impossibility for Tom to commit the charged crime. Although the innocence of the black man was obvious even to the eyes of children, the jury convicted his guilty based on his skin color. Tom’s death later in his escape ended the case but not the story. On their way back home from Halloween party, Jem and Scout were attacked. When the man attempted to hurt Scout after Jem out of consciousness, Boo came out and saved them. It turned out that Ewell fell on his own knife and died as sheriff insisted despite the truth that Boo killed him for protecting the kids. Scout showed her understanding comparing this to the mockingbird killing. After took Boo home, standing on his porch, Scout gained her new value of life. And there at home, Atticus waited beside the bed for Jem to wake up.

Throughout the book, going along with the classic transition of Scout and Jem from innocence and maturity, there have been some different themes. However, all of them come finally to the exploration of humanity and morality. To Kill a Mockingbird presents us the constant conversation regarding the inherent goodness and evilness of people. There will be conflicts and battles both between inside and outside and between good and evil, in the end, goodness will suppress the evilness.

When the story started, life seemed to be simple and people were all as ordinary as any folks. Scout and Jem hadn’t been much aware of the truth covered by the quietness until the hour of awakening came. The trail was like a stone hitting on a calm surface of the lake making everything different. Neighbors began to show their different side. Through eyes of Scout and Jem, we see beautiful hearts twisted by rumors and crime imposed on innocence by “honored men”.

Ting well with the title of the book To Kill a Mockingbird, goodness has been well explained and presented by “mockingbird” in the community. In chapter 10, Atticus talked about rifles and told Scout and Jem that “it is a sin to kill a mockingbird because mockingbirds are harmless creatures who do nothing but singing for our enjoyment”. In the story, Tom Robinson is clearly one of the “mockingbirds” who is killed both by fear and by prejudice. He is a kind-hearted and hardworking man and just like the mockingbird never did anything harmful to anyone. He symbolizes the innocent part of our humanity which is shot to death on its way escaping from injustice and prejudice. Atticus, our honored hero, is obviously another “mockingbird”, who fighting on behalf of justice and righteousness against evilness. He represents the bright side of our humanity, being upright and bravery, he had always been the “rays of light” that dark power afraid of. Arthur Radley, our Boo, who had been suppressed by his family then the whole society but never lost his beautiful heart, is also a “mockingbird”. He presents the goodness which has been misunderstood, repressed and even twisted by the society. We also have kindhearted Calpurnia, gentle Miss Maudie and even the old, weird Mrs Dubose who showed no harm and bravery in her sickness. In addition, Scout and Jem, gradually understanding the world and gaining a new value of life, would follow the steps of their father became “mockingbirds” too.

On the other side stands the evil part. The ignorant fear and hatred to the black people is the greatest one, represented by Bob Ewell and white mob. Although it seemed to be powerful and caused the death of Tom Robinson, this ignorance and hatred is nothing but bluff. No matter when it encountered with goodness, outside the jail, outside Tom Robinson’ house or even on the court, it stepped back and feared. In the end, when Ewell was killed and “death buried death”, goodness prevail evilness. When Scout stood on Boo’s porch and watched around, seeing the whole world around with refreshed eyes, we knew hope and goodness will never disappear even in the darkest days and it will wait for someone to “climb into one’s skin and walk around it” to find.

In a word, To Kill a Mockingbird is a book that no one wants to miss through which we learn about American history of fighting race discrimination and through which we learn to see the goodness inside people. It will be the eternal theme of our life.


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