I believe the last time I read this book was middle school or early in high school. I didn’t retain much except for “something about Boo Radley and a tree.” Not quite the paradigm shifting human dignity message Mrs. Lee was trying to get across. What really prompted me to read it again was Paige Benton Brown’s “In the Temple” message (start listening around 13:00). The context is the cloud of God’s glory in the Old Testament: how it is both revealing and covering who God is and although Israel was His chosen people, they needed to be reminded of His complete holiness. She quotes the portion where Scout is reminded to stand up upon Atticus Finch’s exit from the court room. Paige says of Scout and her father: “He was already her father and she already loved him a lot, but she needed to be reminded of who. He. Was.” Just like the Israelites in the desert and at Sinai. I love this analogy. So I dusted off the book and put it in my “to read” pile.
Since it’s a classic and a favorite of almost everyone I know, I will just give a few of my favorite quotes and themes. I tweeted several of these as I was reading:
Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape; but most of all, summer was Dill.
People in their right minds never take pride in their talents.
It’s not necessary to tell all you know. It’s not ladylike.
Real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.
I think there’s just one kind of folks. Folks.
(On the injustice of Tom Robinson’s conviction): They’ve done it before and they did it tonight and they’ll do it again–seems only the children weep.
And perhaps my favorite quote of all, which occurs several times throughout the book:
It’s not time to worry yet.
That last quote captures the essence of the story because I agree with Miss Brown: this story is ultimately about a little girl’s relationship with her father. Even though she and her brother respect him from the very beginning, their relationship deepens throughout the book. As a father, Atticus is like God in that He sees a bigger picture than his kids. He’s constantly reassuring them, telling them he’ll let them know when it’s “time to worry.” Of course he never actually says this because when danger finally arrives, he’s present to handle it with them. Turns out there is never a time to worry.
If you’ve never read Harper Lee’s classic novel, I don’t know what you’re waiting for. Clicking the picture at the top will take you to Amazon so you can order yourself a copy (and if you order from my website, I get a little tip!) It’s a fantastic read for young and old.