Do you remember having to read all those classic novels in your high school English class? Well, I do! I remember feeling stressed out that I had to read three chapters of some classic novel in addition to all the other schoolwork I had at the time. But after reading these specific stories, I was so amazed at what each one taught me: significant life lessons that have stuck with me into my college days and even to this day. I am rereading three of my favorites this summer. I hope my blog gives you some insight into these books, and maybe, just maybe, I can get you to read even just one of them if you never got a chance to do it in high school or re-read them all these years later.
To Kill a Mockingbird
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was first published in 1960. This is truly an unforgettable novel. The story takes place in 1930 in Maycomb, Alabama, where racism was an unfortunate part of Southern life. The main character, Scout Finch, lives with her brother Jem and their father, Atticus. Maycomb is a tiny town, and every family has a social position depending on where they live and who their parents are. It doesn’t seem too much different than today in certain ways, right? Atticus raises both his children by himself with the help of his Black housekeeper Calpurnia. Both Scout and Jem discover that their father will represent Tom Robinson, a Black man, who is accused of raping a White woman. Atticus takes this case knowing he will most likely not win. Why does Atticus do this? Because he has courage and morality. Scout and Jem are subjected to racial slurs and insults at school because of Atticus’s role in the trial. Within the novel, Lee addresses the impact of racism in America from a young girl’s point of view.
What have I learned and have taken away from this novel? First, the “mockingbird” represents the idea of innocence. Therefore, to kill a mockingbird is to destroy one’s innocence just as Scout and Jem had their innocence stolen from them at a very young age due to societal injustices. Second, as you grow up and reflect on your past, you realize certain events in your life — good or bad — change who you are as individuals in some way, shape, or form.
Many other events occur during the three years the story takes place that you will have to find out for yourself and enjoy reading.
Read more classics from the 1960s, click here.
The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published in 1925. Many of you may have seen this in the movie theater. I have re-watched the film and reread this book several times. Let me tell you about this astonishing story for those of you who have not read the book. The Great Gatsby is set in New York during the Roaring Twenties, also called the “Jazz Age.” The book is narrated by Nick Carraway, a young man from Minnesota and a graduate of Yale University. He moves to New York to pursue a career in bonds. He not only narrates the story but casts himself as the book’s author. He centers his story around the life of Jay Gatsby, his “hero” in other words. He states that Gatsby represented everything he disliked in a person but for some reason excludes him from his usual judgments.
Gatsby is a self-made millionaire from the bootlegging business during the prohibition. Above all, The Great Gatsby is a representation of the “American Dream.” It takes a boy, Jay Gatsby, who is dirt poor and builds himself up to wealth. However, his whole life is based around courting a woman from his youth, Daisy Buchanan, who is married to Tom Buchanan. Even with the most extravagant parties that Gatsby throws, he still cannot win over the love of his life, Daisy.
The contrast between “new money” and “old money” is illustrated throughout the book by the difference between West Egg and East Egg. The West Egg is portrayed as cheap, full of people who have made their money in a time of unprecedented times like Jay Gatsby, illegally selling alcohol during the Prohibition. The East Egg is illustrated by those who have inherited their wealth and look down upon the West Egg. This novel is so interesting to me because there is someone who has it all, Jay Gatsby. Yet, he is so unhappy and is always striving for more satisfaction in his life, which gets him in trouble. This novel dives deep into the horror of a life of greediness; however, Gatsby reintroduces the reader’s capacity to dream.
Read more classics from the 1920s, click here.
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies by William Golding was first published in 1954. A group of English schoolboys crash-landed onto an island after their plane is shot down during the war. The boys must fend for themselves and try to survive without proper food, water, and shelter. This novel explores the idea that humans are born evil or innocent until outside forces turn them evil. Most of the plot is based on Golding’s experience with real-life violence from World War II. The boys free from society’s rules and structure become savages, reflecting Golding’s experience during World War II.
Although the novel is set on a small island, Golding creates a big picture of human struggles. Such as the impulse to obey rules and behave morally. On the other hand, the savage instinct, the urge to seek power over others, disobey morals, and act violently, is portrayed through many different characters in Lord of the Flies. Overall, the island symbolizes society, politics, and human psychology.
Read more classics from the 1950s, click here.
There is a reason why these books have been a fundamental part of English literature for many years now. These books have profound themes that readers are constantly connecting to, despite the different time periods. I hope this blog has inspired you to either reread these classics or pick one up for the first time with the hope that you will enjoy it (because I can almost guarantee that you will). Discoverbooks.com has all these and more in stock starting at $3.85 with free shipping on orders of $9 or more in the United States!