When does a child come of age? Is it when s/he hits puberty? Is it when s/he legally turns into an adult? Or is it when s/he learns that the world isn’t all good as s/he thinks it is?
There’s a reason Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is part of school syllabus. Not every novel can impart life lessons to children seamlessly. There’s a reason Lee had a Pulitzer Prize to her credit. Not every author can convey to the reader what goes on in a child’s mind through an adult’s view. But Lee’s writing does not just do that, but also reiterates, in a manner that’s ominous, and yet, commonplace, that racism exists. She establishes right from the beginning, that the world isn’t a kind place, even for children. Before you know it, they are robbed of their innocence and pushed into a world full of injustice, unfairness, and inequality.
The story begins with ‘Scout’ Finch narrating about the summer she spent with her brother Jem, and their summertime neighbour Dill, as children, in a small town called Maycomb in Alabama. Together, they play and enact all the stories they’ve ever heard or read, and occasionally get a kick out of trespassing on the recluse ‘Boo’ Radley’s property.