The Story of a Novel For 50 years, Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird has been recognized worldwide as a classic. It has never been out of print, which is just one of the many signs that prove how imprinted into our society it is. Harper Lee changed the way readers experience the world around them, and certainly raised the bar for what should be expected from classic novels. To Kill a Mockingbird’s legacy will be everlasting, for holds a mirror up to America and shows what truly lies underneath. America has always taken pride in its detailed history, for better or for worse.
Many novels have attempted to demonstrate historical events, but none have quite come close to the outstanding perspective of To Kill a Mockingbird. Readers get to see America as it was in the 1930’s through the eyes of an untainted, unhindered child. As it has always been told, sadly, racism and prejudice were somewhat of a building block for the founding of this country. The audience experiences this firsthand in the novel as Atticus Finch, a middle-aged lawyer, takes on a case in which he must defend a black man accused of raping a white woman.
Circumstantially, the cause for this case would be lost; the black man would be found guilty upon being seen by the jury. As even Reverend Sykes stated, “[he] had never seen any jury decide in favor of a colored man over a white man” (279). But Atticus, an entrepreneur of his own kind, defied the accepted truth and caused the jury to ponder for hours. This was an important moment for both literature and for the well-being of America. It puts into perspective the hardships of African Americans during the 1930’s, which is not something to be taken lightly.
Every society has their own mind set of what they consider to be ‘ideal. ’ For example, American’s could be loyal, truthful, and courageous; this almost perfectly describes Atticus. Even though obstacles may make his aspirations difficult, he did not stray; he kept pushing forward no matter what. Also, he is the utter definition of what the justice system, a major part of the American lifestyle, is meant to be. It is against his morals to tell anything but the whole truth, to fabricate any circumstance, and to treat any given person as anything but equal.
He attempts to change the tarnished views of jury members, which could be seen as a spark for African American rights. Lastly, Atticus is the advocate for courage. As he stated himself, “[courage] is knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what” (149). There is a slim possibility of achieving your goal, but it’s that chance that makes all the difference. He has been an inspiration and an American icon for countless amounts of people, which is one of the major reasons that have made To Kill a Mockingbird so widespread.
A common factor for many classic novels is their ability to be related to. For instance, it would be easier for the reader to relate to a character going through turbulences in their lives than it would be the same person to relate to an old man fighting in an apocalypse. For this reason, it nears impossible to deny how much of a classic To Kill a Mockingbird is. Firstly, Scout is extremely relatable because it’s safe to say most everyone can reminisce to a time when they were innocent, naive to hardship and struggle, and curious about the adult world.
One of the universal languages is youth, which is something everyone has had to go through. Second, you will seldom find a person who has not gone through a confusing, complicated period in their life. We experience this with Jem; as he grows and matures, he begins to see the world through different eyes. The only catch is his vision is blurry, which is what confuses the situation. Lastly, practically everyone has gone through a time where the difference between right and wrong is undefined.
Atticus has to decide whether to tarnish one moral or another- to lie and say Arthur Radley didn’t kill Bob Ewell, or to expose him to the world and ultimately kill a mockingbird. For 50 years, To Kill a mockingbird has been looked up to and studied by millions across America, and even across the world. It is one of few novels that can say they have never gone out of print, which is an astonishing accomplishment. Harper Lee touched the hearts of many, and showed readers what it really means to be an American. For these reasons, To Kill a Mockingbird will continue to prosper for endless generations to come.
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