Monday, 8 February 2016

Caroline vs. To Kill a Mockingbird

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So, I have this GIGANTIC list of books I need to read scribbled in a Moleskine notebook I carry in my bag everyday.  There are tons of classics I've never read, and my messy list is one way to keep track of what I should buy when I'm loitering in a bookstore.  I was almost finished Murder on the Orient Express when Clem and I flew to London at the beginning of August, so I consulted my list and decided to get To Kill a Mockingbird for my holiday reading.  For some reason I thought it was a really long and complicated novel, so I was surprised to find it is only 309 pages.  The story is beautifully written and thoughtful, and Scout's character really resonated with me.  The narrative of the racially-biased justice system is also (sadly) still relevant to contemporary society's struggles with racism, especially in the American South.  Definitely read this if you haven't already!  (Or, if you have, read it again!)

Some touching excerpts:
"Miss Caroline began the day by reading us a story about cats. The cats had long conversations with one another, they wore cunning little clothes and lived in a warm house beneath a kitchen stove." p.18
"I stood on tip-toe, hastily looked around once more, reached into the hole, and withdrew two pieces of chewing gum minus their outer rappers. My first impulse was to get it into my mouth as quickly as possible, but I remembered where I was. I ran home, and on our front porch I examined my loot. The gum looked fresh. I sniffed it and it smelled all right, I licked it and waited for a while. When I did not die I crammed it into my mouth: Wrigley's Double-Mint." p.37
"'The world's endin', Atticus! Please do something - !' I dragged him to the window and pointed. 'No it's not,' he said. 'It's snowing.'" p.71
"...Jem asked, 'How do you make a snowman?' 'I haven't the slightest idea,' said Atticus. I don't want you all to be disappointed, but I doubt if there'll be enough snow for a snowball, even.'" p.71
"Jem and I always thought it funny when Uncle Jack pecked Atticus on the cheek; they were the only two men we ever saw kiss each other." p.86
"Rose Aylmer was Uncle Jack's cat. She was a beautiful yellow female Uncle Jack said was one of the few women he could stand permanently." p.87
"'Scout, you'll get in trouble if you go around saying things like that. You want to grow up to be a lady, don't you?' I said not particularly." p.88
"Aunt Alexandra was fanatical on the subject of my attire. I could not possibly hope to be a lady if I wore breeches: when I said I could do nothing in a dress, she said I wasn't supposed to be doing things that required pants. Aunt Alexandra's vision of my deportment involved playing with small stoves, tea sets, and wearing the Add-A-Pearl necklace she gave me when I was born; furthermore, I should be a ray of sunshine in my father's lonely life. I suggested that one could be a ray of sunshine in pants just as well, but Aunty said that one had to behave like a sunbeam, that I was born good but had grown progressively worse each year. She hurt my feelings and set my teeth permanently on edge, but when I asked Atticus about it, he said there were already enough sunbeams in the family and to go about my business, he didn't mind me much the way I was." p.90
"'Grandma's a wonderful cook,' said Francis. 'She's gonna teach me how.' 'Boys don't cook.' I giggled at the thought of Jem in an apron. 'Grandma says all men should learn to cook, that men oughta be careful with their wives and wait on 'em when they don't feel good,' said my cousin." p.91
"'Scout,' said Atticus, 'n***er-lover is just one of those terms that don't mean anything - like snot-nose. It's hard to explain - ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody's favouring Negroes over and above themselves. It's slipped into usage with some people like ourselves, when they want a common, ugly term to label somebody.' 'You aren't really a n***er-lover, then, are you?' 'I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody...I'm hard put, sometimes - baby, it's never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn't hurt you.'" p.120
"...today was Sunday, and Aunt Alexandra was positively irritable on the Lord's Day. I guess it was her Sunday corset. She was not fat, but solid, and she chose protective garments that drew up her bosom to giddy heights, pinched in her waist, flared out her rear, and managed to suggest that Aunt Alexandra's was once an hour-glass figure. From any angle, it was formidable." p.141
"...'Show you something if you won't tell anybody.' I said what. He unbuttoned his shirt, grinning shyly. 'Well what?' 'Well can't you see it?' 'Well no.' 'Well it's hair.' 'Where?' 'There. Right There.' He had been a comfort to me, so I said it looked lovely, but I didn't see anything. 'It's real nice, Jem.' 'Under my arms, too,' he said. 'Goin' out for football next year.'" p.248-249
"'They fired a few shots in the air, then to kill. They got him just as he went over the fence. They said if he'd had to good arms he'd have made it, he was moving that fast. Seventeen bullet holes in him. They didn't have to shoot him that much.'" p.259-260
"...Miss Gates said, 'That's the difference between America and Germany. We are a democracy and Germany is a dictatorship. Dictator-ship,' she said. 'Over here we don't believe in persecuting anybody. Persecution comes from people who are prejudiced. Pre-ju-dice,' she enunciated carefully. 'There are no better people in the world than the Jews, and why Hitler doesn't think so is a mystery to me.'" p.270
xx, C.

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