I remember seeing the title "To Kill a Mockingbird" in a Chinese language textbook in some grade. It appeared in the extended reading section at the end of the textbook, which was my favorite part to read. There was no need for comprehension questions or memorization, just excerpts from famous works for you to read, what they call "nurturing literary literacy."
It took me five or six hours to read this book, and I couldn't help but slap my thigh hard: I read it too late, too late. It would have been better to read it in elementary or middle school.
This book is quite easy to read, and even as a child, I don't think there is much pressure. It tells the story from the perspective of an eight or nine-year-old child, with lively and humorous language, and most of the stories are about the children's funny behavior. Therefore, I think it is also appropriate for children around the age of ten to read, because it is really educational.
For children, it can guide them to develop good character; for adults, especially adults with children, it is an enlightening and educational book. The father in the book, Atticus, is brave and upright, a person who can be called a role model. Under his words and deeds, the two children learn about prejudice and bravery.
The climax of the story is a trial, where a black man named Tom is falsely accused of rape and is convicted even without any evidence. It ruthlessly exposes the deep prejudice against black people in that era. Because Atticus defends Tom, he also faces criticism and rejection from others. When "I" faces mockery and provocation from others, Atticus tells me: "Hold your head up high, walk over, and be a gentleman."
Regarding bravery, Atticus says: bravery is when you know you're destined to lose, but you still go ahead without hesitation and persist to the end. A person rarely wins, but there is always a time to win. His choice to defend Tom is the best proof of this statement.
The symbol of a "gun" appears many times in the book. After the two siblings receive an air rifle as a gift, they go around shooting everywhere, but Atticus warns them not to shoot randomly, preferring them to shoot tin cans rather than birds, especially harmless mockingbirds, because killing a mockingbird is equivalent to a crime. Atticus restricts us everywhere and doesn't teach us how to shoot, making the two siblings think he is a "coward."
However, when a mad dog appears in town, the sheriff unexpectedly entrusts the important task of shooting to Atticus, and that's when we find out that he is a famous marksman in town, although he never mentioned it before. Perhaps the presence of a gun makes him feel endowed with abilities that other lives do not have, and this is unfair to other lives, so he puts down the gun. Holding a gun is not bravery; true bravery is knowing what is just and then persisting in not doing unjust things.
Another instance is when Tom is shot and killed while trying to escape from prison. He is shot seventeen times, far exceeding the normal number of shots. This is not to prevent escape, it is simply murder, and it is murder driven by revenge and prejudice.
The repeated appearance of the gun, I believe, is intentional by the author. As a weapon of those in power, it is an unequal existence for others of the same kind. When prejudice is present, the person holding the gun is elevated and easily raises this weapon.
Mockingbirds do no harm, they just sing there. If you kill a mockingbird, then you are committing a crime. The Ewells accuse the kind-hearted Tom, and they "kill" Tom, the mockingbird; in the early stages, "I" and my friends disturb and mock the peculiar neighbor Radley, "killing" Radley, the mockingbird...
We will encounter many mockingbirds in our lives, and when deciding whether to raise a gun, our hearts need to measure with some principles, and Atticus in this book serves as an example to provide us with reference.