1. Bildungsromans are amazingly enjoyable. I believe it takes tremendous skill to be able to convincingly portray multiple perspectives and narrative frames through a single character: in this case, Scout Finch. Some may contend that her views are overly moralistic for a girl barely the age of ten; but I genuinely felt that the themes of human dignity and the appearance-reality conundrum were expounded upon very subtly. Overall it was a delightful narrative.
2. It is not just about racial prejudice. Yes, the climax of the entire novel revolves around the trial of Tom Robinson and Atticus Finch’s excellent speeches and defence for him. The fight for racial equality pervades. Unfortunately, the narrative is truly a potpourri of various themes that are diverse and applicable up till today.
3. Atticus Finch as a father. Many of the commentaries that revolve around him focus on his outstanding performance during the court scenes, him acting as the moral backbone of Maycomb, and his respectable attitudes towards other: even to those who might be hostile to him or oppose his actions. However, my fondest memories of him would be his way of teaching and interacting with Jem and Scout Finch; how he manages to get his kids to learn and experience life through their own perspectives. He educates and nurtures them whilst Calpurnia acts as a wonderful disciplinarian.
4. Education. As aforementioned, Atticus Finch is a wonderful father because he teaches his kids how to think, and is impartial when dealing with them (Scout Finch mentioned that he always listened to both sides of the case). Moral education and developing a conscience have been – and still are – the most important lessons a child can learn and apply for the rest of his life. Conversely, Miss Caroline’s approaches always made me cringe; the strict and stubborn adherence to a singular way of teaching-learning is not only pedantic, but extremely counter-productive.
5. “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”. The best quote from Atticus Finch in the book; it was the best piece of advice to Scout Finch (and all of us) for her (our) growth and maturity.
6. Some of my other favourite quotes by Atticus Finch. “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience” and “there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal … that institution, gentlemen, is a court”.
7. Boo Radley. It was quite sad to hear how he was treated when he was a child by his father. Ultimately it is rather difficult to fault him for remaining as a recluse given the general atmosphere and attitudes of the peoples in Maycomb.
8. Mockingbird? I never did understand the symbolism of the mockingbird immediately when Miss Maurie explained to Scout Finch that “mockingbirds don’t do one thing but … sing their hearts out for us”. I did eventually catch the general idea that it represented some form of virtuousness and purity of individuals; people tainted and unfortunately judged by others in the society.
9. Bob Ewell. He really just epitomises evil and everything associated with it. In a proper society we always hope for a utopian-scenario; believing that all men were born good-natured, and various peripheral factors genuinely caused an individual or a household to go astray. His character shows the juxtaposition between nature and nurture; and how evil would perpetually remain present in a city or town. We also questioned whether the route of non-confrontation is actually the best: after all, Atticus Finch’s decision not to retaliate almost cost the lives of his two children.
10. Mr. Link Deas, Mr. Heck Tate and Mr. Underwood. Wonderful cast of men who provide appropriate contrasts with their xenophobic, short-sighted and intolerant counterparts.