Monday, 29 June 2009

To Kill a Mocking Bird

I've reproduced a blog here from my bookgroup blogsite. I wouldn't normally do that but I felt that this time I wanted to. There was a discussion at the end that troubled me and this blog is in some respects my response. I'm not going to say anymore because this is a public blog and I haven't been overly direct in what I have said. But for those that were there it's pretty plain...

It was a good book group meet excellently hosted by my Jan and Elsa. Most of the regulars were present and most everybody had finished the book which is always good for discussion. Several of us had read the book in our teens and it was interesting how different the impact, looking at it with a few more years tucked under our belts.

Lee uses the unclouded eyes of a child to pull apart the prejudice that swamps the characters of the story. Lee herself would have been that age at that time in the thirties and we can imagine that she was writing from experience. When very young, innocence can shield you from the truth as you don't know how to recognise the injustices that surround you. Once you lose that innocence though your choices are either to challenge or accept and ignore. One group of people lose their freedoms while the other set lose their humanity.

The book was written some twenty odd years after the time it was depicting, but the issues were just as current in the early 60's. Reading it now, in the next century it is still current. There may be laws set out to protect rights but society isn't balanced and possibly it never will be.

I had totally forgotten the part where Scout puzzles over how the teacher that deplores the actions of Hitler towards the Jews could dehumanise people just for being black. Scout never used the word dehumanise, though I am sure she could. She never uses the word racist either but then, as the saying goes, fish probably have no word for water.

The people of the book are just people and they are still with us. We are them in our own times. The Atticuses, Scouts, Miss Stephanies and even the Ewells. For me I think that is the point of the book. There will always be those who find what they consider to be reasonable justification for their prejudices. The question is do we challenge them or accept and ignore?

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