‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ by Harper Lee
Pubished in 1960, and another Pulitzer Prize-winner, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ has become a staple of southern gothic fiction that accurately depicts the deep racial divide. Set in Maycomb, Alabama, readers meet the narrator, six-year-old Scout following the events of a purported rape of a white woman by a black man.
Her father, Atticus Finch is representing the defendant, Tom Robinson despite the disapproval of many of the Finch’s white neighbors in the community. Scout and her brother Jem, too face ridcule by their classmates over the case, but as the plot pushes forward both children learn from their father the importance of not walking away from injustices when they see them.
Why It’s Banned: Depiction of rape, use of profanity and racial slurs.
Why You Should Read It: Over the years the novel has been criticized as overly sentimental and unrealistic since the childrens’ voice often are seen as overwrought and adult. Further, Atticus has been seen as a “repository of cracker-barrel epigrams” and the novel itself as a “sugar-coated myth” (Source). However, what may not be easily disputed is Lee’s impact on writing about social and racial discord and how both are accurately realized in the work. ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ still stands as an authentic voice in southern literature, one that expresses the wide bridge between injustice and equality, and how, today, that bridge is one we still need to demolish.