Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

This book was enjoyable the second time, but I couldn't help thinking it would never have been published in today's market. The trial isn't even mentioned until about seventy-five pages in. Until then, everything is background helping to create the picture of the innocent childhood the trial interrupts with its sobering reality of a racist community. The first quarter of the book reads like children's literature, full of descriptions of childhood games, punishments for sassing adults, building snowmen, fantastical stories created about the reclusive neighbor.

Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird was one of two books I was assigned in high school with female authors. The other was Pride and Prejudice. What struck me most on this reread was what a heavy burden falls on these two books to represent the entirety of women's experience in the world: a British lady from the 1800s and an eight-year-old American girl in the 1930s. These were the books I was given in the 1990's; these were the same books assigned a generation before.

Is it any wonder why boys grow up unable to associate female authors with universally relevant writing? Girls grow up reading a majority of male authors, required to find and discuss universal themes. Boys are very rarely asked to do this.

And are we to believe that nothing of value has been written since 1960? Are we frozen in a time that was unapologetic in its sexism? Will these be the same books assigned to children in a hundred years?

I'd love to hear what other books people were assigned in school, especially younger readers. Is this changing?

1 comment:

  1. I may be a case in point but I've never read either book. The movie version of Mocking Bird is brilliant and credibly bloketastic as it has the wonderful Gregory Peck standing up for right against intolerance and hatred. Jane Austen on the other-hand..... never have read and never will read but she's very good in the following Big Daddy :o)