Lessons to learn from Harper Lee


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Lessons to learn from Harper Lee
By Zan Azlee

ou don’t have to be an ardent literature nut to know about one of the contemporary world’s most popular novels ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee.

An American who grew up in the southern state of Alabama during the years of the civil rights movement, she constantly wrote about racial injustice even before her debut novel in 1960.

Of course, her debut novel eventually became her one and only novel and she famously became a recluse, never giving another media interview after 1964.

I read this book as an English class school assignment when I was 12 years old and it has become one of my favourite fictional books. I am reminded of it because of two reasons.

The first is because the book dealt with racial injustice. Although it talked about a period in history of the United States, I feel I can draw paralels with the situation in Malaysia.

Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ set during the Great Depression, tells the story about siblings six-year-old Scout and ten-year-old Jem Finch, their friend Dill and lawyer father Atticus.

Atticus is appointed to defend a black man who is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. Due to that, the two children are constantly made fun of by their peers.

The accused black man is eventually found guilty in court and this badly affects the faith in equality that the whole family shares. Of course, drama ensues after all this.

Although comparing Malaysia today with the situation in the United States in the early and mid 1900s would be carrying it a little too extremely, we can still learn lessons from it.

Systematic racism is something that should not exist for the good of people and humanity. When it is instilled into government policy, it will only cause injustice and breed contempt. [Click to read the full article at The Malaysian Insider]

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