Tequila Mockingbird

Popular in high school English curricula world wide, Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” [1960] is a novel rich and layered.

For years, hearing the title from friends, I believed it to be in fact called, “Tequila Mockingbird.” I should have not believed first impressions, a deep theme of the novel.

Loosely based on Lee’s childhood observations of family and neighbors in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, the novel recounts the experiences of Scout and her brother Jem against the backdrop of a trial of Tom Robinson, a black man for the rape of a white woman.

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Scout’s father and lawyer, Atticus Finch agrees to defend Tom, earning him the ire of the white community.

The novel deals with race and class issues in the 1930s Deep South. Seen through the eyes of the children, adult attitudes seem irrational. However, they too have their own journey of discovery and overcome prejudices towards their reclusive neighbour, Boo Radley.

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Most importantly, they learn to see life from another person’s shoes.Such empathy, while simple, is quite profound. The children shoot Blue Jays with their air-rifle, but they are not permitted to kill Mockingbirds, because as Miss Maudie explains,

They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.

In learning to cherish the Mockingbird, to see the inner goodness of Boo Radley and Tom Robinson, Scout and Jem learn to cherish their own dignity and value.

To Kill A Mockingbird, 1962 film version

 

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