by Harper Lee
December 29, 2013
According to Merriam Webster, a classic is defined as serving as a standard of excellence : of recognized value <classic literary works>
This is definitely true of this very real and fluidly written novel by Harper Lee. Lee's story is told through the eyes of the young daughter of Atticus Finch, Scout. As she makes her simple and honest observations, the reader has the opportunity to gain insight to the various dynamics playing out in their private lives, as well as extended family, neighbors, and the rest of the townspeople with such clarity its as if someone lit a candle in a deep, dark mine.
The story surrounds the events taking place in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama. In the pre-civil rights south, blacks may have their freedom, but it's a delicate and fragile thing. When a young white woman accuses a black man of sexual assault, the town is hungry retribution. They are not necessarily interested in justice though. Atticus Finch is appointed defense attorney more because officials know he's the only man that won't turn it down, but thankfully for his client, he's honest, fair, and very determined.
With exquisite detail, Lee paints the vivid picture of prejudice and inequality, not just by race, but background, financial status, and education as well. It's amazing when it comes to bigotry there seem to be no boundaries. Slurs and nasty comments about Atticus and his client are related to this little girl and her older brother Jem. She learns many new words as she travels between home, school, and town, tries them out herself and later has her father explain their meaning and how hurtful some of them can be and why.
Like water the details seep into all the cracks and crevices providing for complete immersion, without drowning the reader in the unnecessary. There is both tragedy and triumph to a level that a heart can be both broken and lifted. If you haven't read this classic, it's probably about time. If you have, but it's been a while, a reread is very enjoyable.
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