Posted: 08 Nov 2014 06:53 PM PST
"It's a sin to kill a mockingbird." A well-respected veteran in the palm oil industry looked puzzled when I mentioned this quote, a few days ago. We were having lunch at a Japanese restaurant, his favourite, when I asked if he had read a book titled 'To Kill A Mockingbird' by American author Harper Lee.
"What is a mockingbird? How do you spell it?" he asked.
I explained to him that a mockingbird is a creature that sings beautifully for the benefit of others and never harm anyone.
Atticus said to Jem one day, "I'd rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit them ... but remember, it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something. And I asked Miss Maudie about it. "Your father's right," she said. "Mockingbirds don't do one thing except make music for us to enjoy.
"They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corn cribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.
"That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
These lines from Chapter 10 are the source of the novel's title; the idea of "mockingbirds" as innocent people who are frequently misunderstood, discriminated and bullied out of jealousy, prejudice, racism, bigotry, arrogant assumptions and ignorance.
Anyone who tries to hurt "mockingbirds" is actually committing a sin because these kind-hearted souls have done no harm but make the world a better place for those around them.
This novel is set out in the 1930s at a small southern state of USA, when the main form of prejudice was racism. The author lays down the moral of her story with the main characters, Atticus Finch and his young daughter Scout and teenage son, Jem.
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