To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Postby Verns » Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:48 pm

Very interesting that this thread was bumped, because I think it was a mention of To Kill a Mocking-Bird in another thread that prompted me to re-read it for the zillionth time last week.

It is in my top ten of favourite books - books that made an impact on me when I first read them and in which I find something new with every new reading. But I never had to study it at school and I can't help but wonder whether that might have killed it for me. I mean, I had to do Bleak House for English A-level and hated it at the time. Just couldn't 'get' Charles Dickens and thus avoided reading any Dickens for years and years.

You can be a Brit and sort of get away with not reading Dickens, yet still know about the books, thanks to films and TV serials - or, when I'm having a whimsical turn, I sometimes think there's a kind of cultural osmosis that permeates a country so its citizens have a shared knowledge of its great literature.

Be that as it may, I came a cropper when the BBC did a serialisation of a lesser known Dickens novel, Our Mutual Friend, a few years ago. Terrific stuff, but I couldn't wait to find out what happened, so had to go and buy a copy of the book. What a revelation! I found I loved Dickens. Then I bought Bleak House and realised for the first time what a truly great book it is. I still have a LOT of Dickens left to read, though. :(

Oops - that went off topic. :oops: I'm just glad I read To Kill a Mocking-bird for pleasure and not because I had to write essays about it.

BTW, thanks, Tony - I never knew that Harper Lee based the character of Dill on Truman Capote! It's clear that Dill is going to grow up to be a writer, though.
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Postby deldaisy » Mon Nov 22, 2010 11:29 am

This book evokes such powerful memories and emotions for me.
I had read it as a child and had seen the movie as a teen and loved both.
So when my 16 year old daughter was to do an assignment about the book for High School, I rented the movie with a blissful feeling of sharing something I had loved too. (We are both rather bookish and pass books back and forth and discuss them in depth with passion; and it was she who introduced me to DW).
Her assignment was a university based course as extra credits for English and as such was not just about the book. She had to research indepth the social and historical era of the book, the history of the author (parents, influences, upbringing, friends, social influences); the list was endless. Then of course she had to extrapolate the book to the enth degree. It took her three months of long hours researching and writing. Now image, she was an over-achiever at the best of times. But her dearly beloved father had died a terrible battle with cancer the year before and as he was a civic leader, and his family was devastated, she took it upon herself to give the speeches at various events after his death; and in a way was pushing aside her grief. So at the time of her assignment she was entering a stage of mania before she entered a deep deep pit of depression. I would sit up at night urging her to get some sleep. She would say it wasn't good enough.. it had to be better. She would spend hours reading passages she had written to me, and I would listen (and they were amazing pieces of writing) but be torn apart that I couldn't reach her. To Kill A mockingbird became a dark monstrous creature that was devouring her. She won the english prize again that year (A+13). Her paper is still used as an example to other students on how to write. I wanted to slap down the english teachers who urged her on, who invited her on stage and lauded her achievements to the visiting dignitaries, as I had been to see them with her psychologist to ask them to back off. She crashed after that paper; and I spent the next year hesitating before I opened her door every morning. I used to love this book. Its not the book's fault. She would have done the same with ANY book.
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Nov 22, 2010 4:54 pm

*hugs you and daughter* :cry: Normally I'd say that finding something like that to focus on if you're going through any kind of depressive process is generaly a good thing - but not when it's something you HAVE to do that's crucial in some way to your career or uni placement or whatever.

If you're doing it just for yourself and there's no real pressure for you to do well or get it done by a certain time, then it's a positive kind of obsession in that you can immerse yourself reasonably safely in the same way as you fall in love in some respects. The stage when everything else fades out and you're in your pearly pink bubble where you don't really need anything else to keep you going because all your needs are met by the object of pleasure. Too much stress on the need to keep going there and doing it really well, it becomes as you say a form of torture. Self-harming without the physical element, instead of a way to get away from what's dragging you under so it becomes a mill-stone instead.

I do hope she's getting back on track now - things like this are a real shock to the entire system and even though it's the psyche that burned out, the physical exhaustion and devastated pain threshold is more dangerous in a way, as it's so hard to break away from. Bad association to have so far as the book is concerned, but in time hopefully she'll hit a balance and be able enjoy reading for the joy of that alone again. Terry's books as we know, are perfect for this. :wink:
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
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Postby Dotsie » Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:07 pm

:( I missed this post earlier, sorry. Hope she's much better now.
What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!
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Postby deldaisy » Mon Nov 22, 2010 5:30 pm

You hit the nail on the head Jan. She is now 23. She is an amasing young woman. And the dark clouds are gathering again. This time she has quit work for 6 months and concentrating on just "being in a good place". And this time she knows that as bad as it got last time she came through it and will again.
If you're doing it just for yourself and there's no real pressure for you to do well or get it done by a certain time, then it's a positive kind of obsession in that you can immerse yourself reasonably safely in the same way as you fall in love in some respects. The stage when everything else fades out and you're in your pearly pink bubble where you don't really need anything else to keep you going because all your needs are met by the object of pleasure.

She DID enjoy the paper. I think it was a way for her to hold off the gathering storm. I meant that the book holds bad memories for ME because I was on the outside looking in I suppose (the whole mother thing too huh). Mind you she was working on four other major assignments at the same time. I deplore the High School system here that puts so many fragile teens under such pressure. She has never let go of her love of books though. She had moved out of her exboyfriends place much earlier this year and only last weekend picked up most of her stuff as she has just moved into a bigger place this week. A few days ago his house burnt to the ground and she lost alot of stuff. She said, "Thank God I saved my books, my costumes and my cat!" :D See... she has her priorities in order. :wink:
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Nov 22, 2010 6:02 pm

I think the cat might have something to say about that - shouldn't it have come 1st?!!!!! :twisted: :wink:

Glad to hear she's all moved on and recognises the signs for when to cut and run too - that was something I never managed to do until 5 years ago, when it was far too late for any meaningful recovery :roll: :lol:
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
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Postby deldaisy » Mon Nov 22, 2010 6:14 pm

Jan Van Quirm wrote:I think the cat might have something to say about that - shouldn't it have come 1st?!!!!! :twisted: :wink:

Glad to hear she's all moved on and recognises the signs for when to cut and run too - that was something I never managed to do until 5 years ago, when it was far too late for any meaningful recovery :roll: :lol:

No! The cat DID come first. :D
Jan: it is never too late hun. Never. One of our depression/anxiety foundations here are lead by two very prominent politicians (ex politicians) one of whom was a hard nosed man during all his time in government. Now he carries a soapbox he jumps up on like a born-again-christian (and I mean that in the nicest way). The wonder in his eyes when he tells of finally finding the right medication: "40 years! 40 years! And the clouds have cleared and the sun is shining and finally I can breath and live the way everyone else takes for granted!" He's an inspiration. Take heart in the fact that it is usually only those of a high intellect who do suffer depression :D Yayyy!
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Mon Nov 22, 2010 8:12 pm

deldaisy wrote:Take heart in the fact that it is usually only those of a high intellect who do suffer depression :D Yayyy!

Careful there - there's quite a few of us on here and we can't all be brilliant. :lol:

My real trouble is that I do know the solution but I'm stuck in a financial cul-de-sac that needs at least a lottery double roll-over to reverse out of but there are still upsides in that I don't need to go back to relatively gainful employment because that's part of my problem. :roll: So things could be a lot worse and I do get my fair share of fun pretty much on here and other places :wink:
"Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” George Bernard Shaw
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Postby deldaisy » Tue Nov 23, 2010 8:37 am

Jan Van Quirm wrote:
deldaisy wrote:Take heart in the fact that it is usually only those of a high intellect who do suffer depression :D Yayyy!

Careful there - there's quite a few of us on here and we can't all be brilliant. :lol:

My real trouble is that I do know the solution but I'm stuck in a financial cul-de-sac that needs at least a lottery double roll-over to reverse out of but there are still upsides in that I don't need to go back to relatively gainful employment because that's part of my problem. :roll: So things could be a lot worse and I do get my fair share of fun pretty much on here and other places :wink:

I hear you mate.
Tell you what..... if either of us wins the Lottery I know this perfectly wonderful boat up on the Great Barrier Reef. I will sail, you can pass me the food and orange juice. No wait!!! We will hire a few of those bronzed aussie lads to sail for us while WE sit back and sip coconut juice. I think a few months on a nice quiet beach in the Whitsundays should go a tad towards healing the soul huh?... now .... what to do with the kiddies....
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Postby Jan Van Quirm » Tue Nov 23, 2010 1:39 pm

Del wrote: I will sail, you can pass me the food and orange juice. No wait!!! We will hire a few of those bronzed aussie lads to sail for us while WE sit back and sip coconut juice. I think a few months on a nice quiet beach in the Whitsundays should go a tad towards healing the soul huh?... now .... what to do with the kiddies....

*Ticks that option* Add some 'through the roof' proof Jamaican white rum to the coconut and you got me :lol:

Kids - not a prob for me! :twisted:
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