Book Review: To Kill A Mockingbird

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This novel was quite tough. I chose to read To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee from my Summer Reading List as my next literary journey. As you can see, this book was well-loved by it’s previous owners, and I bought it from a charity book fair earlier this year. This was my first time reading it though, for some reason my school’s syllabus didn’t include this as prescribed reading. I’m stalling. I know. There’s just so much to say about this Pulitzer winning novel – I don’t really know exactly what to say.

It’s a story of love, family and friendship set in the South of the US in the 1930’s. It’s about the relationship between siblings, and how that friendship changes as one sibling seemingly grows up faster than the other. And about how even though the nature of the sibling friendship changes, the bond remains. It’s about the childlike exploration of the imagination by storytelling. Conjuring up fantasies and demons alike in the mind, all in the name of playing pretend. It’s a beautiful story of the love of a father for his children – and how raising them unconventionally would affect them for years to come. How neighbours help to love and raise these children. It’s about how a young girl can be a rough and tumble little tomboy – but be so adored by the people around her – even capturing the heart of a boy who (I think), would love her until the day she died.

More than that though, it is a story that shows the reader how cruel human nature is. Unflinchingly, the author takes us through the injustices of the automatic judgment passed onto people who are different than ourselves, and the consequences of these judgments. It deals with class. The automatic banding together when others are different than our own class. It also, very humblingly, shows the reader how absurd this bigotry is. The distinction between race, class, occupation or even heritage are redundant when one chooses to look at the person behind these labels, and reveal their true nature and humanity – good or bad.

As always – I am trying not to reveal too much… I can tell you that through the narration of Scout Finch, she tells us the tale of her life. The good, the bad, the heartbreaking and the moments of pure joy. I understood how they were raised by her mannerisms, her attitudes and her actions during what was arguably the toughest, most trying time in their family’s lives. All throughout the novel, I had this complete feeling of foreshadowing – pressing on my heart. And when I couldn’t hold it anymore, I found out. And I wept. The author so very cunningly made me a part of Scout’s story that I couldn’t understand the feelings I was feeling until the very end.

It is an excellent read – but really not a lighthearted novel. I feel enriched as a human being for reading it.

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Can’t we all just get along?

What a disappointment. Really. Yesterday, there was girl on my Facebook whose status update was something along the line of “Rumour has it that the night of the long knives will happen on the night of the 13th. Pray to God, and let’s be ready”

Firstly, the “Night of the long knives” refers to a prophesy made by Siener van Rensburg a hundred years ago. The prophesy goes that there will come a time in South Africa where all the black people will rise up and start murdering the white people. Furthermore, there a couple of signs that he predicted which would announce the arrival of said prophesy. A couple of these signs are:

  • A very cold winter, like no winter before
  • The workers at the electricity plants threaten to cut the power
  • Mining accidents that will result in uprising
  • The Rand (SA’s currency) weakening
  • Murders on white people where no theft is involved
  • England disappearing into the water
  • Several countries that are in a state of war
  • The Muslims are involved in a religious war

(Source: http://boere-eenheid-forum.cultureforum.net/gesels-f4/uhurunag-van-die-lang-messe-t189-30.htm)

So, clearly all of these things are true in my country. And what do the scared, racist white people do? They go into a flat-spin over all these signs, and what this man predicted a very long time ago. But hang-on. It’s the 14th today…Nothing happened. No, really?

After I read this status, it bothered me for a couple of hours. I read up a little on this prophesy, and I came across a very frighteningly large number of white supremacist sites who all predict doom and gloom for the white people of South Africa. This upset me, so much so, that I decided I would comment on the girl’s status. I said that I thought it was completely irresponsible to put a post like that up on Facebook. It frightens people, and fear is an incredible driving force. I told her that people thought after the 1994 elections, all the white people would be murdered. They also thought that when Eugene Terre’blache (a former AWB leader) died earlier this year that there would be a civil war. It didn’t happen.

She responded with :”Lol, like Noah tried to warn the people and they all laughed at him”, after which she removed me as a friend. Gosh, I didn’t know that racism and Christianity was the same thing. I don’t see how this prophesy has anything to do with religion. It only fuels people’s fear and hatred for another race. It’s called Xenophobia, people. If the prophesy has anything to do whatsoever with religion, then I guess there must be something very wrong, because it calls for Black people to be heathen murderers, and the poor little White man having to suffer for Christianity. But wait, aren’t there any Black Christians? Of course there are. So how does this fall into the teachings of the Bible to love one another? I told her as much.

I find it deplorable that people can be so ignorant, so hateful and racist. We’ve come a long way from slavery, and the indignation of Apartheid. If the people my age are still racist, still going on and on about Apartheid, what hope is there for the future? It’s ridiculous that my generation has this unexplained hatred of other races. We aren’t old enough to remember Apartheid. We weren’t affected directly by it. Sure maybe our parents and grandparents were, but by the time we could fathom what Apartheid was, it was over.

It’s time to get over it already. It’s over. We need to move on. Not only the white people, but also the black people. We need to stop the hate, and the fear and the violence. We are a civilised nation. Shouldn’t we start acting like it?

Much Love