On Jean Louise Finch’s fifth annual trip home, she discovers herself to be a complete stranger to Maycomb’s ways. Unable to understand the racial issues that now grip her home, she struggles to face the reality to which she had remained indifferent till now. Growing up with Atticus as her father, she never really learnt to distinguish between people, for he never thought it necessary, until now. The only differences she saw between two individuals, were their personas, their characteristics and appearances; Jean Louise had been brought up to be colour blind.
The current situation asks her to refocus her sight and emerge from a 20 year old habit. Caught in a web of love, righteousness and justice, she struggles to breathe outside the protective dome she’d created, which now crumbles. The story gives us an insight to the domestic, economic and political problems faced by the colored people, and the ideals of the handful of whites who supported them. The Blacks’ lack of awareness was used for vote bank politics and the Whites who supported them had to cover themselves in front of the law. It is on one such meeting that Scout bursts in, to discover her father speaking against the Blacks. Unable to believe that her father, her idol, the one person she trusted completely, could hurt her, cheat her in such an obnoxious way, she seeks her Uncle for answers and comfort. The rest of the story focuses on how Scout embraces the cruel facts of the day which prick her conscience like thorns of a particularly nasty bush. She recognises the defects in the nation’s administrative practices and for the first time meets her father, more importantly, meets herself.
I found the book immensely absorbing and enlightening. As always Lee explains one of the most conflicting and controversial topics in human history with immense simplicity, through the eyes of Jean Louise Finch, who is now a grown woman. Scout has been portrayed as a courageous and stubborn woman with an iron clad will and an exceptionally strong sense of justice even if she happens to be a ‘turnip sized bigot’, to put it in Uncle Jack’s words.
Scout’s character is a very inspirational one as even after suffering an emotional blow she isn’t afraid to admit that she was wrong and tries to make up for her mistakes. Harper Lee made every single character beautiful and admirable in her own unique way; alone they are incomplete, but together in one story they create a tapestry of courage, affection, justice and humour so rich, that the reader is awed. All in all, it is a book which will continue to inspire and motivate the coming generations and never truly lose its touch or relevance.