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The Hudsucker is an online magazine made up of unique and dedicated writers with fresh voices from across the country and overseas. Our team of writers are passionate and driven, bringing forth their personalities in each article. Since its inception in 2012, The Hudsucker has continuously proven how writing is our strongest fingerprint. By creating a smart and ambitious environment for readers, the digital magazine focusing on popular culture aims to be relatable through experiences and passions.

Not a Book Report, Just a Thought: Why It’s a Sin To Kill A Mockingbird

“… ‘Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something and I asked Miss Maudie about it. ‘Your father’s right,’ she said. ‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.'” 

Harper Lee’s Novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is one of the most adored and cherished stories of all time. Today, most young adults read the novel as part of the English course load (or at least read the summary on SparkNotes, right?). To be assuming, it would be strange to come across someone who had not heard of the novel. Why? Not only did the novel win one of the most prestigious awards in all of literature (Pulitzer Prize) but it also was translated into more than forty different languages and has sold more than thirty million copies worldwide.

Image Credit: HarperCollins Publishers

Image Credit: HarperCollins Publishers

Receiving accolades such as being a “classic” of “modern American literature”, the novel’s success only continued to sky rocket after the novel was adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 1962 by director Robert Mulligan, with the screenplay by Horton Foote. The film, which varied slightly from the novel, contained actors and directors that were able to effectively capture  the magic of the world renowned novel; touching on serious issues such as rape and racial inequality, but also including warmth and laughter from it’s humorous moments.

The multidimensional “good” characters in this story carry more than the contents of their pockets; they carry a heavy set of morals and merits wherever they go. The main role model characters created by Lee (Atticus, Scout, Jem, Tom Robinson) are inspirational themselves because they are real, they struggle, and they don’t always win. One of the greatest things about To Kill a Mockingbird  is the opportunity for darkness to exist. The title itself invokes an image of destroying a creature that is an image of purity and joy; a singing bird.

The main example of a character to lead by example is Atticus Finch, who may not be a Byronic hero and be fighting dragons but nonetheless serves as a sort of “moral hero.” Atticus became known for his character qualities of integrity, honesty, and fairness for the role he played both from a professional standpoint (as a courageous lawyer, opposing racism) and as a human being (as a caring father, and role model to the community). Notable quotes by Atticus include:

“Just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goal. Try fighting with your head for a change… it’s a good one, even if it does resist learning.”

“Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason for us not to try to win.”

“I wanted you to see something about her–I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

Why is To Kill a Mockingbird relevant today, when it’s been 52 years since its original publication date? The reason is simple; because it still reigns as one of the most influential pieces of literature that exists in the world, and the morals and themes that are explored by Lee still make an impact, if remembered and called upon when needed. Despite the fact the racism and unfairness in the court system has long progressed since when the book was written to take place (during the Great Depression), the issues that surface in the novel are still very much relevent to today.

Values of humanity, selflessness, bravery, and courage are shown by the character of Atticus Finch, but they are observed from the point of view of his daughter, Scout, who is a child at the time. The point of Lee using a child as the narrator rather than simply telling the story from Atticus’s point of view allows us as readers to be children as well. As Scout learns moral lessons like what it means to stand up for what you believe in and that violence is never the answer, we too learn these lessons. As Scout grows in age, we as readers grow with her. Scout’s voice is one of undeniable truthfulness, for she  sees as a child does, embracing her surroundings and the people around her without judgement or preconceived notions. And if we were smart, we would all be wise to heed her advice.

“It was times like this when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man that ever lived.”

Not a book report, just a thought.



About the Author

Kelly is a staff writer here at “The Hudsucker”. She is currently a senior at George Mason University finishing up her B.A. in English and writes at her own blog, “How I See It“. Kelly hopes to be a professional writer and author some day that not only inspires but helps change the world for the better. Follow Kelly on Twitter as @Kelly_Kavanaugh.

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