Reading Club |To Kill a Mockingbird



If you ask me “who is the most admirable literary character”, I will definitely answer Atticus Finch in the novel To Kill a Mocking Bird, which depicts several incidents that took place in the small southern town of Maycomb during the Great Depression through the eyes of a six-year-old girl Scout Finch. A loving father, a calm gentleman, and an esteemed lawyer, Atticus taught Scout and every reader like me about justice and empathy.

In Scout’s memory, Atticus was respected by everyone in Maycomb, including the very poor. He once said, “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them.” He told Scout and her brother not to make fun of their mysterious neighbor Boo Radley, and he defended the black man Tom Robinson against the spurious rape charges by a local white man Bob Ewell.

Unfortunately, despite Atticus’s capable and impassioned defense, the jury still found Tom Robinson guilty. Atticus tried to persuade Tom Robinson to appeal, but Tom Robinson attempted to escape from the prison and was shot. The plaintiff, Bob Ewell, resented Atticus for his helping the black people and assaulted Scout and her brother as they walk home one night. Their mysterious neighbor Boo Radley saved the children and fatally stabbed Ewell. The sheriff, knowing that Boo, like Tom Robinson, would be misunderstood and likely convicted in a trial, protected Boo by saying that Ewell accidentally fell on his own knife. Having witnessed the good and evil sides of human nature, Scout gradually developed sympathy and understanding toward others.

Atticus said “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”, because “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.” “Mockingbird” is the key metaphor of the book, referring to the good and innocent people who are hurt by the evil. Atticus showed his daughter his resolution of protecting the mockingbirds. The hardworking and warm-hearted black guy Tom Robinson was a mocking bird, helping the white girl on his way home but was accused of rape by the girl’s father, so Atticus decided to take his case; the neighbor Boo Radley was a mocking bird, suffering from his father’s abuse and rumors that he ate people, so Atticus told Scout not to bother him. He treated people with calmness and sympathy, no matter black or white, rich or poor. He recognized that people have both good and bad qualities, so he admired the good while understanding and forgiving the bad. Atticus passed this great moral lesson on to Scout, protecting her kind heart from being destroyed by contact with the evil.

The novel was written in the 1950s, when American society was experiencing the campaigns for civil rights. People were fighting for racial and gender equalities as well as reflecting upon the coexistence of good and evil, the complexity of human nature. In To Kill a Mocking Bird, the author narrates in a little girl’s language, seemingly groping for answers to some childish questions, but she actually examines the definition of justice and morality, inspiring the audience to “stand in others’ shoes” and view the society with empathy.

Even today, I can still feel Atticus gazing at me with his calm and understanding eyes between the lines, reminding me not to kill a mocking bird.

胡云舒 April


芝加哥大学1890年由石油大王约翰·洛克菲勒创办,素以盛产诺贝尔奖得主而闻名。截至2017年,共有92位诺贝尔奖得主在芝大工作或学习过。芝加哥大学在经济学、法学、社会学、物理学、数学、统计学、化学、天文学、地球科学等众多学科领域拥有强大学术实力,2017-18年度,芝加哥大学在US News本科排名中位列全美第3,仅次于普林斯顿大学和哈佛大学。

Previous articleReading Club: The Old Man and the Sea & A Farewell to Arms
Next article“Under the Gas Light” – Movie Review


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here