Many years ago I saw and loved the film adaptation starring Gregory Peck, but I never got to reading the book until a couple of weeks ago. Peck's impeccable portrayal of Atticus Finch has always stuck in my head. As I was reading the book, many scenes of that film kept coming back, but I already forgot how the story ends.
The story still moves me deeply, as the themes of human compassion, parenting, friendship, racial prejudices and class discrimination are evocatively explored. The voice of the narrator as a nine-year-old girl makes the story all the more endearing.
These quotes of Atticus's impress me most:
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."
"They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions. But before I can live with other folks, I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience."
Perhaps this passage is the most striking in the whole book for its piercing poignancy:
"Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed."
However, what really gets to me is the ending, which was disquieting enough to make me take away one star. Heck Tate's (the sheriff's) decision to falsify Bob Ewell's cause of death in order to protect Boo (Arthur) Radley from being charged is obviously based on a flawed reasoning. But Atticus's ultimate acquiescence to it seems to overturn the very principles of honesty that he has been fighting so hard to uphold, both as a lawyer and as a parent. To me, this is a disappointing ending to an otherwise brilliant novel.