I would like to begin by saying I read To Kill a Mockingbird roughly a decade ago. I don’t recall most of it, so what happens in each of my short reviews is as far as I can remember. I will hopefully form a full review after all is said and done, but for now I’ll just focus on the questions from Adam’s post.
1. What are your impressions of Scout as narrator? We know she is young, but clearly the narrative voice is quite sophisticated. Do you see any conflicts or problems with this? Or do you find it effective?
I am really enjoying this novel through Scout’s perspective. As with most novels, I don’t think the story would be nearly as effective with any narrator apart from the one the author provides. The combination of adult Scout reminiscing and child Scout experiencing delivers the youthful essence of childhood with a touch of maturity. While I don’t think I’d enjoy young Scout narrating as the story unfolds, I’m also relieved adult Scout goes away from time to time. One of the other works for some novels, but I don’t think it would have been nearly as effective with this one.
As with any novel that involves a character reminiscing on their past, the question of whether or not the memories are accurate comes about. Perhaps I’m giving credit too soon, but Scout seems rather intelligent for her age, but she isn’t bragging about it. I can’t help but think the memories are accurate. She’s never too modest, never too proud. She’s tough and confident, but she also knows her place…after being told…perhaps more than once. What can I say, she’s a child. She’s behaving as expected for a child her age. I personally don’t see an issue with Scout telling the story. Perhaps every emotion in every moment isn’t completely accurate, but I can only assume the important bits are true…you know, in a fictional sort of way.
2. This book, though perhaps most widely known for its statements about equality and civil rights, also clearly has something to say about education. Given what we know about Scout’s “learning,” her teacher’s reprimands, and the state of children such as the Ewells, what does To Kill a Mockingbird seem to say about education? What are the other (higher?) priorities?
I won’t pretend to know everything about the history of education in America, but the education system presented in this novel is clearly outdated. For a teacher to tell a student not to learn outside of the classroom is a huge shame. I feel for anyone who is reprimanded for wanting to learn more, even in the world of fiction. Instead of encouraging additional learning, teachers let students come and go as they please. The teachers want control of what the children learn, yet they’ll do nothing if a child doesn’t want to learn, as long as no one is learning more than what is being offered. It’s a messed up system. That being said, I can’t wait to see what Scout does about it, if anything.
3. And, just for fun: Who is your favorite character so far? Least favorite? Why?
Oh, Atticus Finch. If I remember anything from reading this book in high school, it’s that I adore Atticus Finch. I find it almost comical how he is the most bashed and talked about up to this point in the novel, even more than Boo Radley, yet he’s the one with his head on the most straight. His parenting skills are top notch, in my opinion, especially considering the times and what he has to work with. He reminds me a lot of my own father, being a “Do your thing, I’ll let you know if you go too far” sort of man.
It’s difficult to find a character I don’t like for reasons apart from the obvious. There are many nasty people, but they’re all written so well that it makes it harder to dislike them. Perhaps I’ll update this opinion by the end of the novel.
I’ll leave you with a couple Atticus quotes that I’m rather fond of.
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.
It’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you.