My Favorite Book - To Kill a Mockingbird
(Concours litt¨¦raire ¨¦lite: in English)
Yisen Wang Íõһɭ 13Ëê 2012 Elite Camp E90°à

¡¡¡¡Choosing one¡¯s favorite book is always an extremely difficult task, especially if he has read more books than he can remember. As I grow older it becomes even more difficult to choose, as the number of ¡°good books¡± I have read keep on piling up. Among what I have ranked as the best of the best is To Kill a Mockingbird. A tale of childhood, hardship, tragedy, and hope, it follows the adventures of Jem and Jean Louise Finch (Scout), Charles Baker Harris (Dill), and Atticus Finch in a three year time span. Throughout the story these characters faced hardships, from defending an innocent Tom Robinson who was accused of rape, to protecting Arthur Radley from being convicted of murder. Masterly crafted, it has a great amount of literary value as well as some sizeable historical background. I still believe, though, that the most important reason why I would rank it as my favorite book is because it is very entertaining, more than enough to make me want to turn the page and discover what happens next.

¡¡¡¡To Kill a Mockingbird has already become a mandatory book in almost all of the middle school and high school districts in the United States. One of the greatest facets of the book is its symbolism. In the book, mockingbirds were used to symbolize innocence. During his trial, Tom Robinson had been proven to be innocent through cross examination. Nevertheless, because of their inability to accept a black man¡¯s word over a white one¡¯s, Tom Robinson was found guilty. When he tried to escape from the prison camp, the guards shot him seventeen times in the back in an excessive show of violence. After his murder, Mr. Underwood published an editorial where ¡°he likened Tom¡¯s death to the senseless killing of songbirds by hunters and children.¡± Tom Robinson, just like the mockingbird, had never harmed anyone, and bringing about his death did no one any good. Arthur ¡°Boo¡± Radley is another example of a mockingbird. When Atticus wants to hold Arthur responsible for saving his children, Maycomb County¡¯s sheriff, Heck Tate, argues furiously against it. Not only would putting Arthur on trial not do anyone any good, as Mr. Tate put it, once the ladies found out about Arthur¡¯s heroic actions, they would be ¡°knocking on the Radley door bringing angel food cakes.¡± Bringing Arthur Radley into the limelight, Mr. Tate reasoned, would be the worst thing that could happen to Arthur. Scout later comforts Atticus and tells him that Mr. Tate was right, and says that if Arthur had been brought out into the public, ¡°¡­it¡¯d be sort of like shootin¡¯ a mockingbird.¡±

¡¡¡¡To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the few books I had read based on actual historical time periods. Set in the Great Depression, a major theme of the book is Southern racism in the U.S. Many of the events that took place in the book reflected the beliefs of racist people living in the South during that time period. The case of Tom Robinson, in which Robinson was convicted of ¡°violating a white woman¡±, was based on the long held Southern prejudice that all black men were mindless beasts who were bent on taking advantage of pure, white, Southern woman. Southern life also held a great role in the development of the story. Scout, from an early age, was influenced by the Southern social system that justified a person¡¯s actions through their genealogy. The Cunninghams supposedly did not take money from anyone if they could not pay it back in some way. The Ewells were white trash and Penfield woman were flighty. In the words of Aunt Alexandra, every family in Maycomb County had a ¡°Streak,¡± whether it was a ¡°Drinking Streak,¡± a ¡°Gambling Streak,¡± or a ¡°Morbid Streak.¡± Aside from these similarities, there are many other instances where the book is influence by its historical setting. All of these events however, tie together to make a very interesting story, as all of the events that occur in the book are completely possible and make the overall story much more realistic and believable. Many of the books I had read before had not been as deeply rooted in history as this one, nor were they in any way realistic. Just as I felt proud of the fact that I was reading a book so rich in literary value, I felt proud of the fact that I was reading a book that was so deeply rooted in its historical setting.

¡¡¡¡As great a book as it might be, To Kill a Mockingbird would not have made it to my ¡°best book list,¡± if it had not been entertaining. Unlike other literary classics, it has never been out of print and, since its publication, has sold more than 30 million copies and been translated into ten languages. The fact that so many people have been buying this book, and that it has never been out of print proves that it must be an enjoyable book. For me, it certainly was. Scout, Jem, and Dill¡¯s attempts at luring Arthur ¡°Boo¡± Radley out of his home turned out to be quite amusing. Dill had insane ideas on how to lure him out, including, but not limited to, sending a letter via fishing pole through the window telling him to come outside so they could treat him to ice cream, and leaving drops of food leading outside and away from his home. Later on in the story, Scout, Jem, and Dill started playing the ¡°Boo Radley Game,¡± a game based on the ¡°Legend of Boo Radley¡± where Arthur stabbed his father with a pair of scissors. Dill was Mr. Radley, Jem was Boo Radley, and Scout was Mrs. Radley, the one who ran and screamed ¡°Bloody Murder!¡± They made up skits and practiced the ¡°play¡± so much that by the time they were finished, it looked real when Jem ¡°stabbed¡± Dill. Comedy wasn¡¯t the only thing that made this story so interesting though. In many instances, Lee masterfully built up tension and suspense before decisive moments in the storyline. The hours before the jury¡¯s decision, and the moments before Bob Ewell¡¯s attempt to kill the Finch children were all examples of this. With its comedy and suspense, To Kill a Mockingbird had done more than enough to glue me to my seat, turn the pages, and make me want to reread it over and over again.

¡¡¡¡To Kill a Mockingbird was one of the best books I have ever read. In terms of literary value, it is far more superior to any other book I have read. Compared to the fantasy books I had been reading prior, To Kill a Mockingbird was a gold mine of information on history ¨C especially about life in the South when lynch mobs were commonplace. I had felt proud in reading this book, and in a way accomplished. I had never before read a book like this. Having grown used to reading fantasy books that probably did not have any real meaning behind them, I had been pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across this book. To Kill a Mockingbird always seemed to reveal something new to me each time I reread it, which is a major reason why I still enjoy rereading it. Nevertheless, To Kill a Mockingbird would have failed to become a favorite of mine had it not been an enjoyable book, for I still believe that the one thing that proves a book¡¯s worth is not its depth, but its ability to make its reader curious and turn the page to discover what lies in wait.