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One Board, One Book: To Kill a Mockingbird

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Welcome to MDC's first ever "One Board, One Book" Book Club! :

The votes are in, and we'll be reading Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird.

If you don't have your copy yet, and would like to order in a way that benefits MDC, please click here. You can also order the movie here.

You can read the play for free here on Google Books.

So grab your copy of the book, curl up with tea, read chapter one and hold this space-- discussion questions are coming soon!
post #2 of 19
"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once."

Why does Harper Lee begin the book with this quote from Charles Lamb?
post #3 of 19
I'm assuming that most people are familiar with the story of this American classic even if they haven't read the book. So, I say it is hinting to the loss of innocence in the novel. Most people don't view lawyers as innocent people. Even the good ones. Manipulative. But, they were innocent once. In this book every character looses innocence.
post #4 of 19
Given the loss of innocence, why does the author use the literary device of having both an adult and a child point of view? Is it convenience or does it say something about the lessons learned by the characters in the book?
post #5 of 19
Oh I so have to read this again! But I am rereading "Pillars of the Earth".
I read it about 10 years ago and then it was in a gift basket we won at the school and I started reading!

How long do we have to read TKAMB?? I read it 20 years ago but I remember a lot!
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
As long as you need! This is a no-pressure book club.
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaverdi View Post
"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once."

Why does Harper Lee begin the book with this quote from Charles Lamb?
Quote:
Originally Posted by eastkygal View Post
I'm assuming that most people are familiar with the story of this American classic even if they haven't read the book. So, I say it is hinting to the loss of innocence in the novel. Most people don't view lawyers as innocent people. Even the good ones. Manipulative. But, they were innocent once. In this book every character looses innocence.
Hm. I haven't read it since junior high and am really enjoying re-reading it now - I had retained the broadest of outlines in my head, so it's fascinating to discover how much more is there.

I agree that the quotation relates to loss of innocence, but I had thought of it more in terms of how many of the qualities that make a fine lawyer are also qualities shared by children: the ability to observe, to ask questions, to sense injustice and to feel it keenly - and to be part of a system and to question it at the same time. Those qualities can lead to a loss of innocence, if you want to call it that, but they can also lead to growth and change.

But then, I'm a lawyer, so that's just my take on it...
post #8 of 19
I also think the ability to act --not letting fear paralyze you-- is a quality lawyers share with children. I'm thinking specifically of the scene where Scout approaches Mr. Cunningham as the mob is trying force Atticus to move from in front of the jail.
post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mammastar2 View Post
Hm. I haven't read it since junior high and am really enjoying re-reading it now - I had retained the broadest of outlines in my head, so it's fascinating to discover how much more is there.

I agree that the quotation relates to loss of innocence, but I had thought of it more in terms of how many of the qualities that make a fine lawyer are also qualities shared by children: the ability to observe, to ask questions, to sense injustice and to feel it keenly - and to be part of a system and to question it at the same time. Those qualities can lead to a loss of innocence, if you want to call it that, but they can also lead to growth and change.

But then, I'm a lawyer, so that's just my take on it...
I think that is a good point. The reason I wouldn't read it that way though is he throws in the "I suppose" which seems a bit sarcastic to me.
post #10 of 19
I thought the sarcasm was more directed at the idea that lawyers are pretty serious, even if they share many traits with children; some are almost so serious you wonder if they were ever children.
post #11 of 19
Hi...we just had the Big Read event in my town and I organized a book discussion with the SAHMs I know. This is such a great book and a fun read.
post #12 of 19
Oooh, yay, it's starting/ed!

I haven't reread, but this is one of my fave books, and I've read it many times.

Can we talk about Boo? I have always been fascinated by his character; I wish we knew more about him.
post #13 of 19
I am so happy to see this book discussion! I have such a love of great books, but I haven't given my self the opportunity to read anything but nonfiction books on parenting, homeschooling, spirituality, etc. over the past three years. I ran across this thread on accident, and I requested the book from the library. Thank you for giving me an "excuse" to read something for me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaverdi View Post
"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once."

Why does Harper Lee begin the book with this quote from Charles Lamb?
To me, this refers to society's generalization (right or wrong) of lawyers being slick and sometimes dirty. It is as if Lamb is saying these people were children once and then they morphed into something else.
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamaverdi View Post
"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once."

Why does Harper Lee begin the book with this quote from Charles Lamb?
Okay, it's been 15 years since I read the book, so bear with me. (I'm going to see if my mom still has my copy from sixth grade lying around when I'm at her house this weekend. The margin notes alone should be pretty entertaining...)

Anyway, I agree with what everyone's said so far about lawyers and children in general, but I also think the quote invokes the specific lawyer and child in the story--Scout starts the book seeing her father as kind of a boring old man, older than her friends' parents and not much fun when it comes to 'kid' stuff. During the course of the story, she (and we the readers) gradually begins to understand how much more there is to him, from shooting the rabid dog to the end when everyone in the 'colored ' section of the courthouse stands up to honor him.

So I guess I read 'lawyers' in that quote as also meaning 'parents'--One aspect of the book is about a child learning to see her father as a full, complex human being instead of just 'dad', which is something we all go through as a part of coming of age.
post #15 of 19
This is a great idea! And a wonderful book to start with! I'll have to get my copy out and reread it since it's been about 12 years since I first read it! :-) Better get to it!
post #16 of 19
I am so excited to re-read this book. I actually read it for the first time just 5 years ago. In school I faked reading it - I distrusted any book that the teachers hyped as an "American classic"/ great book etc. But I appreciated that I read it as an adult and not a child, I got so much more out of it.

On the issue about the lawyer quote, I agree with the Mamastarbird. Its not so much about lawyers in general, but about a child speculating that her lawyer-dad must have been a child at one time. However, she can't actually comprehend the man she knows having the necessary characteristics of a child. I remember thinking that way as a child. I suppose dieticians and naval officers where once also children...
post #17 of 19
I've taught this book several times in a 9th grade class in the South, so I have been fortunate to lead some excellent and rich discussions with young people on this book! I encourage everyone to participate! I might steer away from participating in a lot of the discussion unless I REALLY have something to say, since I don't want to come off sounding like the teacher and give things that vibe.

There are some really wonderful creative projects that we adults might enjoy that go along with this book, such as baking a Lane Cake from scratch, writing in invisible ink, carving figurines out of a bar of soap, growing geraniums, field trip to the courthouse to watch a trial, etc.
post #18 of 19
i'm so excited to see this thread! this is one of my all-time favorite books, and my daughter (due on 1/20/09) will be named after haper lee! (but shhhh... that's a secret.)
can't wait to dive in!
post #19 of 19
I just finished teaching this book to my sophomores. They're turning in their papers on Monday. How funny to see it here! I'll be interested to see the discussion that happens here.
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