June 20, 2010

review - to kill a mockingbird

Synopsis - told in the deep south during the 1930s the book is both a story about loss of innocence as well as the racial inequities of the time.  The loss of innocence in part comes from the protagonist - a young headstrong tomboy dubbed "Scout" - her brother and their friend as they witness their dad's (Atticus) able but ultimately doomed courtroom defense of a falsely accused black man.  The three children believe in the noble spirit as well as the ability to always appear calm and right headed nature of Atticus, and so believe surely the man will get acquited.  He does not and is sentenced to die for his crime (sexual assualt of a white woman).  The courtroom tale parallels the childrens' own incorrect accusations towards a mysterious neighbor who ultimately saves their lives.  There is no happily ever after in this tale but it is not without hope.  One gets the sense that the children learn that life is brutally unfair yet there are good people in the world willing to stand up and do what's right.  And that someday, they will be the next adults who stand up to do the right thing.

Medical relation - I couldn't really tie anything into this medically other than the personality of the father, Atticus.  He's level headed and almost caring to a fault.  He defends the black man knowing full well the predetermined outcome but does so because he sees him simply as a human being, no different than anyone else.  Qualities for a good lawyer as well as a doctor.  The man reminds me a bit of my father now that I think about it.

Conclusion - I immensely enjoyed the writing style.  It's written in a southern prose which I've come to appreciate over the years.  The characters are extremely easy to relate to and as I read it, I could even picture the scenes happening in mind feeling like I knew the characters.  That's the mark of a good writer when it's like a movie playing in your head.  The other thing that struck me was how far society has come.  The book took place in the 30s and was written in the 60s.  Not exactly high points in society's treatment of people that didn't happen to have the right color of skin.  I look around my own life where growing up I had friends of every color and never thought anything of it.  Today I look at my class and again, see lecturers and students of every color and think nothing of it.  Politics aside, our president was elected without any issue of race coming up too overtly.  So while individual stupidity and racism will always exist in any society and any race, I think from a sociological perspective, our society has moved past the point of institutionalized racism.  That's a hopeful thing to know that things can change.  It makes me almost (but not quite) hope that we can correct our unsustainable path to health care that we're headed down.


Steve Parker, M.D. said...

You've see the movie version starring Gregory Peck, right? Are they very similar? Sounds like it, from your synopsis.

That's my wife's favorite movie.


Isaac said...

I haven't but my brother was telling me Peck did a great job from what he remembers. I'll have to put the movie in our blockbuster queue.