When I reached the end of the book, I was a lot more satisfied than I expected to be. Stopping before Chapter 23, I assumed that Boo Radley would be left untouched for the rest of the book, and the end of the novel would essentially be talking about life after the trial. But, happily, I was wrong. The final scenes of the book where we get to meet Boo and he heroically saves Scout and Jem’s lives really was my favorite part of the book. I had been wondering about Boo for some time and it feels amazing to get some closure on that subject. Overall, Harper Lee did a really good job tying up all of the loose ends of her book, as I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. This is a gripe that I have with a lot of other fiction books I read, as there are many minor subplots that are not mentioned for long but tend to stick in my mind.
Thinking again about the idea of secret lives and the things that we keep to ourselves, I think that everyone has something that they feel they cannot or should not share with the world. To me, that is perfectly all right, as secret lives are often harmless. In TKAM, secret lives are touched upon some, as Atticus has a secret life that he did not want his kids to know about, when it came to the name “One Shot Finch” . In addition, Scout learns about her teacher’s secret life a little, as her teacher is very outspoken about the trial and very negative toward racial equality. Secret lives definitely exist, and I personally believe that every person has something secret or omitted from telling the rest of the world. It’s not always a negative thing, at times it is even good. For example, the teacher keeping her beliefs about race away from the classroom and secret from them is helping the children form their own beliefs.
When it comes to the character that I personally analyzed, which would be Atticus, I am so glad it was him. Atticus is, in my opinion, one of the best characters in the book, as there is so much more to him than what meets the eye. Looking at the novel through Atticus’ perspective was really neat. I think that throughout the book, Atticus always tries to do what is absolutely best from his children to make them good people, and people that see that what society is doing is wrong. Atticus brings in his sister to make sure that Scout becomes a real “lady”, and he tries to keep the trial separate from his life with the children so that it does not affect them too much.
A quote that I had on my empathy map for Atticus is, “You never really understand a person until you can see things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” This is such a major quote from Atticus in the book and really sums up how he feels about the way things are in Maycomb. This really struck me, as I have heard the saying about walking in someone else’s shoes, but this was the first time that I really took the time and thought about what it truly meant. Another quote from Atticus that struck me is, “So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that’s something I’ll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I’d rather it be me than that houseful of children out there.” This is in reference to when Bob Ewell had just spat on Atticus and Atticus just walked away calmly. This quote struck me because it clearly shows what a great person Atticus is. He cares more about the Ewell family, people that are seen as “scum” by the town, and Mayella Ewell, the girl that could have saved his case but chose not to, than his own personal safety. This to me puts Atticus as the most morally correct character I think that I have ever read.
When it comes to the lit circles that we have had throughout the middle and end of the book, we have come up with a lot of interesting ideas. One major thing that we came around to a few times is why Boo Radley is shut up in his house all the time. We discussed some different ideas like maybe he really did commit some terrible act that he feels the need to be shut in about, but we eventually began talking about the idea of mental illness. We thought that mental illness is a solid possibility because back in that time period, mental illness was seen as such a horrible thing, and that it needed to be covered up and hidden away like it never existed. Boo may not be stuck in the house of his own free will, and some of the other parts of the book led us to come up with this concept. One example is that Boo feels a strong connection to the children, and leaves them little trinkets in the tree trunk. The fact that Boo’s father cemented the tree trunk led us to believe that it could be mental illness, because his father would not want Boo having any contact whatsoever if there was a mental illness.
I think that we still read this novel because history and understanding where we came from and where we are now is extremely important. The article written by William James about people’s motivations shows where we were, the article Black Men in Public Space shows where we were in more recent years, and then the article that discussed the Ferguson shooting and people’s opinions on it show where we are currently and why we are here. I think that these articles are a good progression and when read in sequence, it helps people understand the mindset of people in each time period and how it changed. Reading this novel gives extra insight into the mindset of those back in the 30s, just after the William James article.