I couldn't let banned book week go by without having someone do a guest spot for me on their favorite banned book. It just so happens this is also my favorite banned book.
Lily from Lillium's Realm was so nice to write a post on To Kill A Mockingbird for me. Without further ado:
Have you ever judged someone on the way they look? How about that guy behind you in line covered in tattoos and facial piercings? Or that lady with 8 kids and one in the belly? Or even that little old blue haired woman covered in cat hair? Or what about that group of young men just hanging out in front of the mall? When you walked past them did you hold your purse a little tighter? Try to keep an eye on them out of the corner of your eye?
Everyone would like to say “I don’t judge people!” They lie. We all judge, all the time. It is one of the first things our parents teach us as children…remember “I’m not taking you to store with me, you’re dirty.” Or “You can not wear that to church.”?? We are all judged and we are all judging all the time, but the content of what we judge each other on is often the issue.
In Harper Lee’s 1960 novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” we are introduced to Jem and Scout, the young children of Atticus Finch. The novel is set in 1930’s Alabama. The small town of Maycomb is suffering but Jem and Scout (who is really named Jean Lousie) don’t feel the Depression as bad because their father is a successful lawyer. As we are introduced to them we see the children acting like children do. Jem and Scout meet a new boy named Dill and Dill finds fascination with picking on local shut in, and in child pack fashion they do too. The main story line most remember though is the story of Tom Robinson, a local black man accused of raping a white woman. Unfortunately the town is mostly white and heavily prejudiced. Atticus agrees to defend the man, because he knows he is innocent. One of the scenes that sticks in my mind the most is where the night before the trial Atticus and his children face down a mob who is there to lynch Tom. Even though the mob is dispersed the trial begins and everyone is forced to inspect facts, but unfortunately this was not a Perry Mason ending with a nice bow on top.
This story has always stuck with me, always. I read this book when I was 12, and I was told I should not be reading “such filth” by my English teacher, no less. She told me the story was more apt to have me viewing my classmates by their race and not as people. I was outraged, as it was well known I had blonde hair and blue eyes and my family was from Germany. Want to talk about nasty? Look like me with my background the day after they show Shindler’s list in class. Good times. Anyways, she demanded I give my book to her and when I refused she wrote me up for insubordination. My dad framed the referral and put it up on the wall. There were amazing quotes from the book and ones I still use today. I actually wanted to name my son Atticus, but that was a big NO GO with his father. So to wrap this up I am going to close with my top quotes from the book:
They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. ~ Atticus
“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for."
"There is one way in this country in which all men are created equal—there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is the court."
"Pass the damn ham, please."
"You can choose your friends but you sho' can't choose your family, an' they're still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge 'em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don't."
"The one place where a man ought to get a square deal is in a courtroom, be he any color of the rainbow, but people have a way of carrying their resentments right into a jury box. As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash.”
and finally my fave line from the entire book:
"When a child asks you something, answer him, for goodness sake. But don't make a production of it. Children are children, but they can spot an evasion faster than adults, and evasion simply muddles 'em."