Tuesday, 27 October 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

There are two major issues in this world which I cannot stand. Number One: Sexism. You’d better not tell me I can’t do something and do it well just because I lack a penis. And it is not acceptable for anyone to say or imply that because of that lack of a penis I am inferior in any way. Yes, I admit because I lack that particular appendage there are certain things I can’t do: produce sperm or pee standing up. But at the same time just because I have ovaries and can push a human being through a very small part of my body does not make me superior to any man. We are equal (or at least we should be), we can both do some pretty, equally amazing things. That’s enough for that particular rant - time to move on to the next stage of my rant.
I’m on holiday from work at the moment and I’ve been spending quality time having a Grey’s Anatomy marathon. I’m up to season four. I’ve just watched the episode in which Dr. Bailey, Christina and George must treat a white supremist with a huge swastika tattooed on his stomach. The storyline was beautifully portrayed; with Christina quitely stating her stepfathers parents were killed in auschwitz and Dr. Bailey telling her that they were going to rise above it and be the better people. They were going to treat this man because if they didn’t it would make them no better than he was. Now, me, I would be inclined to let him die and rot in the firey pits of hell - but that’s just me. Racism. Can’t stand it. Most importantly, I don’t understand it.

I don’t understand how anyone can hate another person based on the colour of that person’s skin or think that a person is inferior because of the way they look. We’re all the same on the inside. At least that’s what I was raised to believe: I am no better nor any lesser than anyone else based on skin colour. Which leads me to the book To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Firstly, I knew nothing about this book. Zilch. Zero. Zippo. So, I googled it. And I found out that Harper Lee is a woman, is still alive and was best friend’s with Truman Capote who wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s - all of which make her incredibly cool in my eyes.

Anyway, To Kill a Mockingbird tells the story of a man, a lawyer, who is defending a black man accused of raping a white girl. The book is set in the 1930s and is told in the first person by the lawyer’s six year old daughter. I thought this was an interesting way to tell an incredibly, sad, intriguing story of society in this time, but then sometimes the truth can only be seen through the eyes of children: through the eyes of the innocent. Portraying a time in history when racial discrimination was still at a peak, the book shows how Scout (the daughter) and her brother are, at times picked on because of their father’s defence of the man, and also their perceptions of what they believe the situation to be. One part of the book that really stood out for me was when one of Scout’s teachers was teaching about Hitler and the persecutions of Jewish people and was stressing the point of how wrong this is and then later Scout overhears this teacher saying that black people should remain segregated and in general just being discriminatory. Scout, in her innocence, tells her father that she doesn’t believe this is right.

All in all I enjoyed this book, although it did take awhile to get into and for it to get to the part of the actual crime and to explain it to the reader, but over all it was an intelligently written exploration of the way we, as humans treat each other.

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