I am not very familiar with american classical literature. I have heard about Harper Lee before but have never read anything of hers, so when I found this book in our library I said let me try it. This novel, published originally in 1960, was considered as an important foundation for coming civil rights movement.
In general, after reading the whole book I realized that is it essentially a book for teens. It is true that book is about complex social issues such as racial and social injustice, misogyny, hypocrisy. But Harper Lee presents these issues to the readers from 9 year old girl's point of view, so the reader is "cushioned" from immediate exposure to harsh reality.
The book is set in 1935, in a fictional small town, in deep south. Racial divide is a fact of life and no one seriously questions it, though there is already some "awaking" to the concept social injustice. Atticus Finch, a girl's father and one of the main characters in this book, is part of this "awaking" but as a lawyer his "awaking" is restricted to the concept of legal injustice, not a social injustice per se.
However, hypocrisy is a fact of life life too. In one episode a school teacher is horrified by the fact that in Germany Hitler is doing whatever he wants to the Jews, but in the same sentence she shows that she is totally oblivious to the condition of blacks in her own town.
The most enigmatic character of the book is Boo Radley, a reclusive young man. No one really knows much about him and or thought of him as a "burden" to the town. However, he is a real life "good Samaritan".
posted by David Usharauli