You can read an infinite number of books in a lifetime, but this is one that I shall never forget. If I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would be timeless. If you have read this book at some point in your life as a school assignment or for leisure, I would strongly suggest you revisit the book, especially in this age where moral values have become underrated.

In summary, To Kill A Mockingbird is a social drama set during the Great Depression in a small town of Maycomb, Alabama depicting the childhood life of Jean Louise Finch – also known as Scout as a child – and her brother, Jem. The story ranges from their heart-warming, curious childhood life to court scenes where their father, Atticus defends a black man who was accused of a crime against a white woman. The book captures a generally happy childhood shared by the Finch children, but the simple joys experienced by Scout and Jem mask a bitter truth about this close-knitted society.

The most important element about To Kill A Mockingbird in my view is that it reminded me to be an ordinary human being who feels.

In this story, the economic recession isn’t the central problem; lack of human conscience is to blame for the events that unfold. Therefore, there is no need to have a thorough knowledge of 1930s America to understand this book, as one would find a number of lessons that resonate with today’s societal issues that seem perpetual, such as racism and inequality. I often caught myself thinking while reading the book that, yet again: history has repeated itself. 

I am ashamed to say that it took me this long to read it despite the countless number of times this book has been on someone’s recommended list of books to read. However, at that point when I finally succumbed to the temptation of reading it, I felt that the book had saved me from losing hope in humanity. While the book was not my main motivation to “make a difference”, it has nevertheless inspired me in a lot of ways.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” -Atticus Finch

The quote above sums up Finch’s upright character and for that reason, I felt hopelessly empty when I finished reading it. It was as if I was saying goodbye to a good friend, one who would patiently and relentlessly advocate basic human rights as an unfathomable consequence of being human in itself.

With that in mind, it spurred me to watch the movie too. Unfortunately, the film, while an adequate adaptation, merely highlighted important bits of this masterpiece. I would suggest reading the book first before watching the movie.

 

To Kill a Mockingbird. Dir. Robert Mulligan. Perf. Mary Badham and Gregory Peck. Universal Studios, 1962. Film. Photo: FilmGrab

Atticus Finch to me was heroic in his views; he had a strong conviction against prejudice. He was heroic at that time because not many people could and would ever defend a black man. His moral values penetrated throughout the book and never did I once catch him being nonsensical and judgmental. Above all, he never rushed. He was patient. He walked away from a bigot who wasn’t worth arguing with, in a dignified way. From an Islamic standpoint, his character somewhat echoes that of our Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him). It’s no surprise coming from a man who seems to be God-fearing, judging from his final testimony before the jury that ends with “In the name of God, do your duty”.

I don’t want to give it all away, but rest assured what I’ve extracted from the book here is just a drop in a bucket. The most important element about To Kill A Mockingbird in my view is that it reminded me to be an ordinary human being who feels.  If you haven’t felt something of significance for a long time, or if you’re perhaps in search of something profound, this is one book that will warm your heart and one that will remain a good story no matter many times you’ve read it.

It is indeed, one of the best books – if not the best – that I’ve read so far. You have to read it for yourself and perhaps, you’ll come just why I regard this book so highly in my reading experiences.