I think this is an unforgettable book in so many ways. The development of the children from their childhood "innocence" to their adult maturity is striking, as is the character of Atticus Finch. Part of the success of this story has to do with the narration, that successfully allows us to see the action of the story through the eyes of the central protagonist - Scout.
Harper Lee has such a powerful way with words that these characters come alive on the page. Each person has a distinct voice and each has something important to add to the timeless themes of the novel. The message that everyone deserves dignity and respect is always a lesson that should be revisited. The imagery is vivid. The tone is impeccable. I still get chills when I read Attitus' closing arguments, and I still hear the sympathetic understanding of Scout as she recounts the story from Boo's perspective while she stands on his porch and "stands in his shoes." There is not a word wasted in this masterpiece.
To Kill A Mockingbird is one of the books I reread for my own pleasure repeatedly over the years. The moral lessons are there, but it is the characters that keep me coming back. The personality Lee infuses in them is so riveting. I usually hate movies made from books because the actors they choose never match what they are in my own imagination. But Gregory Peck is Atticus. The only time I can say an actor was made for a role. All the qualities that were given to him in the novel are on the screen, as well.
Why is To Kill a Mockingbird Worth Reading?
It's a classic, but why? Why is it still such a popular book, and why do you think it's worth reading?
Jamie noted that critics found Scout's too mature, but that time has proven these critics wrong. I think that's part of the appeal. Scout articulates that inner insight that many of us heard inside our heads, but that I, at least, fumbled mightily when I tried to speak out loud. Actually, Scout does too at times—think of how she gets in fights—but she manages to pull it together when it matters. Her voice is that of the out of place child, the universal genius trying to figure out what she's been born into.
As far as other reasons for popularity, try tension, great character portraits, inventive language use, and Lee's willingness to weave her way down her personal back alleys in the plot.
When the novel was first issued, the reviews were not universally positive. Some reviewers found the voice of the Scout too be too mature, even for her remembrances. However, time has proven these early naysayers wrong. "Mockingbird" is unique in its advocation of a female protagonist without much regard for her gender (Scout simply is; there is no long defense of her actions or inactions being motivatd by her "femaleness." For this reason alone, Mockingbird should be on every teen's (and adults) reading list.
As has already been expressed above, the novel also offers a glimpse into our troubled racial past and presents it in a realistic way. Atticus offers a moral compass to his children and to his society in a way that is folksy but not comic, intelligent but not overbearing. What is best about American society and what is worst is presented side-by-side, and in prose style that seems effortless but is actually tightly constructed.
To Kill a Mockingbird teaches that racism is wrong, yet it also shows through the actions of the characters that racism still continues regardless of what society says. The good intensions of one man makes no difference in a town full of racism. However, the innocence and open mind of a child can make a difference. During the years I taught this novel, I had more conflict from parents who were angry that I taught it because it had the "n" word in it. Sadly, when I asked these parents if they read the book, most said no. Their children, however, understood the message behind the "n" word. I do agree that the author's view concerning race was, in fact, limited due to her upbring and society at the time. However, in writing her book, she showed clear indications that she wanted to break free from the limited and cruel treatment of blacks, but in her dialogue between characters, Harper Lee appeared to struggle with just how to let go of the racism all around her. I think her novel was beautifully written, expressed a clear message that racism was wrong (but still remains present in the hearts of some people), and that treatment of anyone "different" was wrong (as evident in the town's treatment of Boo. Sometimes it takes another generation (Scout) to break away from the cruel and limited thinking of the previous generation.
The novel opens our minds to sensitive topics such as discrimination. While many agree that discrimination is down-right WRONG, there are however, still a handful of black sheeps who do not believe that all men are equal.
Also, the childish innocence of the children (especially Scout), reminds us of how we were when we were still children at her age, trusting of all, but are at the delicate stage of which our minds can get polluted or influenced negatively by widespread gossips. (and i agree that the novel is humourous!)