‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee has never been out of print since it was first published in the nineteen fifties. I consider there to be many reasons for it still to be popular today. The gripping plot with twists and turns keeps you in suspense right up till the very end, and the harsh reality of the addressed issues adds intense drama and interest to the novel. The novel is set in southern Alabama in the 1930s in “a tired old town” called Maycomb. This town is very close knit and everyone knows everyone else’s business.
However, in spite of this, the town is very divided – coloured and non-coloured, rich white and poor white, educated and less educated. The novel is written from the perspective of Jean Louise Finch (known as Scout to her friends), the eight-year-old daughter of Atticus Finch, a lawyer appointed the position of defending Tom Robinson, a black man wrongly accused of raping a white girl. By telling the story through Scout, Lee has found an effective way of gradually releasing information about the plot and enabling the reader to be at the centre of the story.
This is supported by Harper Lee’s simple but efficient description, for example, in the case of Dill: – “Dill was a curiosity. He wore blue linen shorts that buttoned to his shirt, his hair was snow white and stuck to his head like duck fluff. ” This gives the reader a clear picture of Dill and enables Dill’s character to come alive in the reader’s mind. A reason I believe this book to still have appeal is the unforgettable characters that Harper Lee has created. Scout is one of my personal favourites being strong-willed and determined.
She is young and naive and doesn’t understand why people are prejudiced and discriminate against the “coloured folks”. She can appear quite ignorant to the facts sometimes, which leaves the reader guessing and trying to figure out what happens for themselves. An example of her naivety is shown when she disperses the crowd that had gathered in front of the jail with simple conversation and an honest face. Maycomb is a town that is very set in its ways. It doesn’t accept newcomers particularly amiably if they are new to the customs of Maycomb and do not follow them.
An example of this is shown in Miss Fisher, and the way she deals with the situations that arise in her classroom. When Walter Cunningham doesn’t accept the money Miss Fisher offers to lend him, she becomes confused and clings to her methods of education in a means to console herself. By doing this, she is proving to herself and to the class that she can teach. Another reason I would suggest this book to still be in demand is the multiple plots that intertwine and bring together the themes and topics of the novel.
The sense of mystery from Boo Radley runs the whole way through the story and as the children grow, we can see their maturity developing as they learn to accept Boo’s way of living. This is shown clearly in the final chapter where Scout and Jem (Scout’s older brother) finally meet Boo after years of wondering about him and thinking of ways to make him come out of his house. Scout appears significantly older in this chapter, and understands Boo’s movements and body language.
“He gently released my hand, opened the door, went inside, and shut the door behind him. I never saw him again. I also found Atticus a very interesting character. His offspring don’t think much of him and are embarrassed about how he never shows his physical strength against the other fathers of their friends. He is a very intellectual and wise man whom is never discriminative or prejudiced. He has strong belief for equality and fair play. “White men will cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something.
Whenever a white man does that to a black man, that white man is trash” There is also a hidden side to Atticus, which is revealed in the rabid dog incident. With movements so swift they seemed simultaneous, Atticus’s hand yanked a ball tipped lever as he brought the gun to his shoulder. ” This shows that Atticus isn’t quite what he seems to be, and it turns out that he was the best shot of the county when he was younger. After fifty years of being published, I consider this novel to still have much appeal. This is a classic novel of the twentieth century, which in my opinion is timeless due to its ever-topical issues of discrimination and prejudice.