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It’s Still Wrong To Kill A Mockingbird!

Updated on February 13, 2013

Fifty years on, the book still sells. I picked up my old, much-thumbed copy the other day and it made as great an impact as when I’d read it years ago. It made me realize once more just how wonderful a writer Harper Lee is and yet, this is the only book she’s ever written. Did she feel she couldn’t write another one that compared? Or did she just want to pour everything she had into this one book and then let it loose in the world? What does this 84-year old really think of her bestseller?

It's the book's 50th anniversary this year. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.
It's the book's 50th anniversary this year. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961.

The scenario is different from what it is today, the people are different, the way of life is different and maybe even the values are different. However, what this book does is to rise above the backdrop of the then world in which it was set to bring home to us certain essential truths and universal values.

Yes, it is still wrong to kill a mockingbird – a bird that never harms anyone, never destroys anything, is never a nuisance. All it does is sing and you can’t, you mustn’t, you shouldn’t destroy it. It’s more than just living and letting live. It’s living and opening our eyes to what is good around us, to what is beautiful, to what is right.

Harper Lee’s world is so early American, so Southern – and yet, isn’t there a Tom Robinson we know that we turn our eyes away from, refusing to fight for his rights? Isn’t there a Boo Radley we know that we ignore because he is different, hoping that when we do that, he ceases to exist, at least for us? Aren’t there issues, incidents, crimes and inequalities around us that we prefer to shut our eyes to? For fifty years, Atticus Finch has been the protagonist who could not be corrupted, a lawyer whose moral fibre couldn’t be questioned. Never mind what the state of the world around us is in, some part of us reaches out and admires a man like him, never mind how old we are, never mind in what part of the world we are in. Would that the universal values we admire in a book spill over to real life!

The problem is, we think we have an ordered existence and we don’t want to rock the boat. If we open the door even a little bit to let what is different into our lives, it might just turn the safe world we know upside down. So we turn away and stay silent when we should go forward and speak out. We pass by the unfortunate and by not letting them intrude into our world, we try and forget they exist. Wasn’t this what the parable of the Good Samaritan was all about?


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    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 5 years ago from India

      Habee - it's one of my favourites too. Yes, I can see how relevant it must be to you. What a writer!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 5 years ago from Georgia

      Another wonderful read! To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite novels. I've always lived in the U.S. South, so I can definitely relate closely to the setting and characters. This def deserves a vote up!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hey Winsome :)

      Yes, I suppose there must have been a great influence considering how close they were. But. as you say, it has more heart. Thanks so much for reading!

    • Winsome profile image

      Winsome 7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Hey Shalini, I just realized that I say "Hey" to people a lot, probably because of Scout. She was great. The girl that stars as Ramona in the new film Ramona and Beezus reminds me of Scout. I have to fight the idea that Harper's closest friend, Truman Capote helped her in writing the book. I would like to think it is all her because it has so much more heart than his works. Thanks for the look and thought probes. =:)

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi Christoph - I loved the movie too - but yes, you should read the book. I think you'll like it!

    • Christoph Reilly profile image

      Christoph Reilly 7 years ago from St. Louis

      How very thoughtful and insightful you are. I have never read the book, but have seen the excellent film several times, including just a few weeks ago. I should read the book someday. I'm sure it's is this hub!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi MM - is it Gregory Peck week? I must turn TCM on. With football and tennis on, that's tough - but it would be too good to miss :)

      A band called the Boo Radleys? How interesting! It's amazing how books like these rise above the day, age and setting to become a part of not just a country's but a part of global life!

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Just last night TCM (Turner Classic Movies) channel did a little bio on Greg Peck (it is Gregory Peck week) and it was narrated by the woman who played Scout. She talked about him being so kind and encouraging her and the other child actors to become educated -- she thought of him as a father figure.

      It would be interesting to research and write a Hub about the cultural influence of this movie. Did you know there is/was a band called the Boo Radleys?

      And not that this is "cultural" but my Hubby and I have adopted "Don't you say hey to me you ugly girl!" into our regular vernacular:-)!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      And Hello to you too MM. It's great to see you here :) Wasn't Gregory Peck just so incredible in that role?

      Ah yes - the speculation. I just love to think she wrote that one book and said Enough. And she and Truman Capote were so close - her characters could easily have been influenced by what they discussed - Boo Radley definitely!

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 7 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hello Dear Shalini! I was just thinking of you and dropped by for a visit. What a DELIGHTFUL surprise to find this hub about my favorite book (and movie). My Hubby and I watch it every year around Halloween (because of the Ham costume scene). It never does lose its relevance and never fails to bring a lump to my throat and a tear to my eye. I've heard it was Greg Peck's favorite role -- and no wonder.

      We also recently watched "Capote" for the second time,with Phillip Seymour Hoffman in the title role and Katherine Keener as Harper Lee.

      I've heard some speculation that Capote actually wrote TKAM but I refuse to believe such rumors!



    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi Denise - thank you. Yes, it really is one of those timeless books, isn't it?

      Hi Lee - How true - now if only we had a number of Atticus Finches among us!

      SilverGenes - I agree - and yet, we're so scared to do that because we get so comfortable with the way things are.

      saddlerider1 - I loved the film too and yes, they were all so good, each one of them in their roles. So glad to hear the young ones can watch, read and appreciate a classic!

    • saddlerider1 profile image

      saddlerider1 7 years ago

      It was a brilliant piece of work and the cast members were excellent. Gregory Peck did an admiral job and the children were also exciting in the movie. Harper Lee amazing that she only wrote this one Masterpiece, but does it really matter, it was served up to the world to be read forever. My youngest son, just completed an essay on this book, so we sat and watched the movie to help him get a visual of the story. He was happy to write on this novel, he received a good mark. Tks for sharing this with us, a fascinating story.

    • profile image

      SilverGenes 7 years ago

      We just watched the film a week ago and I'm feeling inspired to read the book again after your hub. It was required reading in high school and it still is today. Your hub is thought-provoking in many ways and I thank you. Sometimes we simply have to rock the boat.

    • Lee B profile image

      Lee Barton 7 years ago from New Mexico

      I can't believe I missed this hub on one of my favorite books. I really like the way you related the book to our lives in asking the questions about the Boo Radleys and Tom Robinsons in our lives. Reading your hub and all the comments reinforce how much meaning and universal appeal this book has.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 7 years ago from North Carolina

      Shalini: so well written. Thanks for bringing this wonderful book back into the spotlight. One of my favorites! and timeless, as you say in your hub.

      I have to agree with Sabu: certain books should be required reading, eh...but, maybe better yet, certain spiritual enlightenment level before requesting a position of power...Great read!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi jayb23 - good to see you back here. I'm sure you'll love the book :)

    • jayb23 profile image

      jayb23 7 years ago from India

      Hey shalini, You should get some royalties from the author. I heard alot about this books. After readin you hub, Iam gettin one for myself. I had been away from HP for so long, have to catch up with your other blogs. Mocking bird is my next read. Thanks for sharing

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi bingskee - yes, you got it so right - we do so love our comfort zone, don't we? We feel so secure and we hate changing that! Thanks for reading and commenting!

    • bingskee profile image

      bingskee 7 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

      interesting writing. so short a piece compared to the other bulky hubs but full of depth and substance.

      i think many of us still refuse to get out of the comfort zone, or reach out, to lend a helping hand, especially if it means having a drastic change to our usual, comfortable life.

      it made me ponder... and i thank you.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi Cris - that must have been heartbreaking, especially your art books - knowing you, you must have had quite a collection! Yes, very sad :(

    • Cris A profile image

      Cris A 7 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Like Jill above, I've lost many books - if not all - to the flood last year. Sad.

      Anyway, a great book, a great movie, a great hub. Thanks for reminding us of some essential lessons in life :D

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Jill - sorry to hear that! Sad how water which is life-giving can take so much away too!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      Shalini - you are right about that - that losing a well loved book is like losing a friend. I feel that way too!

      I checked my bookshelves a few hours ago and I could not find my copy. I guess it really did go with the flooded ones. I actually lost so many books then. Hu hu hu! I guess I will just have to look for a new copy.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi Jill - thanks for coming by! I do hope some of your favourite books at least have survived the flood - it's always sad to lose them, like losing a friend!

    • jill of alltrades profile image

      jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

      What a beautiful hub Shalini! It's been a long time since I last read "To Kill a Mocking Bird". Now you made want to read it again. I hope that my copy is not one of those I had to throw out after we got flooded last year.

      Thanks again for sharing this Shalini!

      God bless!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi Nellieanna - all of them such wonderful books in their own way! Some of them I've read because I wanted to - some because I had to - and then it's incredible how you pay so much more attention to the style, characters and story development. Thank you for your kind words - do I sound inspired? If I do, the long awaited rains turning everything around us green could have a lot to do with it :)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 7 years ago from TEXAS

      Sabu - by chance, such a list was presented to me in a little book on writing fiction. The assignment was to read them and to study each of their special qualities, writing styles, story development, etc. "To Kill A Mockinbird" was among them. They were all memorable, each in its own way. Their time periods were widely varied. "Tom Jones", "Madame Bovary", "From Here To Eternity", "War and Peace", "The Pearl" were some of the others. I went out and bought them in paperback to take to the ranch and read - where I did.

      I wasn't running for office but perhaps it is an idea for anyone aspiring to do something more than what he/she has already done.

      Shalini, you must have been touched by a muse! You are writing some of the most inspired and inspiring hubs! Not that you don't usually, but this and the one I just read are both so extraordinary! Thank you!

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi Eric Calderwood - thank you you for reading. This was one of the few books that I thought made a great movie as well!

      Hi Dolores - she did actually - I think two of them but she never completed/published them. Like you said, when you've given the world perfection, maybe that should be it.

      Hi Linda - yes, strange how some things never change in and ever-changing world! Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Linda Myshrall 7 years ago

      Shalini, I haven't read this in years. Your observations have inspired me to dust off my copy and revisit an excellent piece of literature. No matter how the world changes, the lessons are (unfortunately) out there still to be learned over and over again. Well done, Linda

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 7 years ago from East Coast, United States

      Shalini - one of the best books ever written, and one of the best movie adaptations! Sometimes I've wondered why Harper Le never wrote another novel, and almost felt sad about that. But when you've given the world perfection, why bother? The universal truths in To Kill A Mockingbird, as well as the almost mystical memories of the South during the Great Depression will make this novel endure for a long time.

    • Eric Calderwood profile image

      Eric Calderwood 7 years ago from USA

      I love the book and also the movie with Gregory Peck. I've read the book more than once and plan on reading it again. Great hub, and nice comparison to the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Vladmir - thanks for reading!

      Sally's Trove - thanks for that bit about Harper Lee - how wonderful to know when to stop if you feel that you've poured your best into one work!

      Green Lotus - timeless, yes! Thanks for reading!

      De Greek - thanks for saying I'm thoughtful and kind :D

      FP - thanks! He really was something, wasn't he?

    • profile image

      Feline Prophet 7 years ago

      Shal, you have a way of reminding us of things we might inadvertently turn a blind eye to. This a book we all need to return to again and again...or at least watch Gregory Peck in the film! :)

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      How thoughtful and kind of you to remember thisShalini :D

    • Green Lotus profile image

      Hillary 7 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Thanks for reminding us of Lee's great book and for it's timeless message. Nice Hub Shalini.

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 7 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      For some, there is only one novel that can be written in a lifetime. Harper Lee said this in 2007: "Well, it's better to be silent than to be a fool."

      Yes, it is still and ever will be wrong to kill a mockingbird.

      Thanks, Shalini, for a needed revisiting.

    • Vladimir Uhri profile image

      Vladimir Uhri 7 years ago from HubPages, FB

      Shalini, thank you for this Hub.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi Shil1978 - I agree with you! Yes, it is evergreen in spite of the time it was set in, isn't it? I've been thinking it's time my daughter read it too :)

      Hi billy - thank you! I watched the movie a few years ago and surprisingly, I enjoyed it. I'm always a bit hesitant about seeing movies of books I love :)

      Hi quicksand - maybe you should read the ones you have and then get this. I'm sure you have some great ones there in your collection.

      Hi lorlie6 - thank you - now that you've reminded me, I just have to hunt out my copies of Grapes of Wrath and East of Eden!

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 7 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Your hub is a lovely reminder of a timeless book, Shalini-thank you. I've been rereading Steinbeck after 40 years-ouch!-and find I'm enjoying his words more than before. Ms. Lee's messages resound still, and Steinbeck's do as well.

    • quicksand profile image

      quicksand 7 years ago

      If you recommend it I shall buy a copy. However I have a large collection of books on various topics and some of them even purchased in the seventies still remain as new as they were on the day of purchase ... still untouched! :)

    • billy sidhu profile image

      billy sidhu 7 years ago

      Shalini- I also re read this book recently and re discovered its beauty. Atticus Finch.......... !! Watched the movie too. A great hub.

    • Shil1978 profile image

      Shil1978 7 years ago

      Great hub Shalini. One of the best books I've read EVER!! I remember the first time I got hold of this book. I had to read it from start to finish. I don't remember now how long it took me, but I didn't feel time passing by.

      Was just so captivating. Harper Lee certainly wrote an evergreen book with this one - it would never go out of fashion, regardless of the fact that we live in different times now.

      The younger ones especially would always find it a fascinating read. I would certainly have my daughter read this book when she's older.

      Thanks again for this wonderful hub Shalini - certainly brought back a lot of memories associated with the times when I read this book.

    • Shalini Kagal profile image

      Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

      Hi snehal - thanks for reading.

      Thank you BJBenson - I wish that my passion translated into action more often!

      Hi Tony - me too! And the strange thing is, it evokes the same strong feelings every time I read it. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Hi Hello, hello - thank you - great writing never goes out of style, does it?

      Hi Paraglider - how true! I do enjoy some of the new but as the years go by, I seem to be sentimental about the old.

      Hi Sabu - I wish! To find an Atticus Finch in this day and age among politicians or lawyers would be hard indeed - if not impossible!

    • sabu singh profile image

      sabu singh 7 years ago

      Would'nt it be wonderful if we could make up a list of such books and insist that all our leaders first read and understand them before they can stand for election? Thanks for this thought-provoking Hub Shalini.

    • Paraglider profile image

      Dave McClure 7 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

      Hi Shalini - do you ever find that there are so many books you want to reread that reading something new seems almost pointless? The great books transcend time, time that we'd grudge wasting on something that might prove to have no staying power. Enjoyed this hub :)

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      This is hub deserves more than full marks. It is so thought provoking and and yes, I agree with you, all these points are still relevant and the same problems still exist. Yet, we still do the same things, ignore, don't look and so on. This is a wonderfully written hub. Thank you.

    • tonymac04 profile image

      Tony McGregor 7 years ago from South Africa

      This book has been an inspiration to me since I first read it so many years ago. I still love it. Thanks so much. Thanks also for highlighting the fear of change that keeps us from letting others into our lives. That is so true.

      Love and peace


    • BJBenson profile image

      BJBenson 7 years ago from USA

      I really liked the passion in your hub today.

    • snehal welde profile image

      snehal welde 7 years ago

      very nice read ...and thought provoking too