A Tribute To Harper Lee

FILE - In this Aug. 20,2007 file photo, author Harper Lee smiles during a ceremony honoring the four new members of the Alabama Academy of Honor at the Capitol in Montgomery, Ala. The "To Kill a Mockingbird" author is at odds with a museum in her Alabama hometown that celebrates her literary achievement over use of the words in the title of her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. (AP Photo/Rob Carr, File)

In 1960, Harper Lee published the candid story of life as it was in Maycomb County called To Kill a Mockingbird.  Little did she know that today, nearly sixty years later, this story would continue to move and inspire millions with its timeless themes of acceptance and defiance.

Unfortunately, Harper Lee passed away on Friday, February 19th, leaving many to reflect on the great impact she has had on American literature.

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel that almost every student in a freshman English class is required to read.  While  assigned readings are usually a cue for students to begin a search for every possible fault in the book, Lee’s novel is one that continues to leave students in awe.  Students find themselves cheering on Scout, the protagonist, as they follow her innocent perspective of a morally corrupt society.

Lee’s novel is able to evoke emotion in readers of all ages like no other book.  Its themes stem from one of the most fundamental ideas of humanity: acceptance.  When Tom Robinson is accused of a crime he has not committed, Lee manipulates every piece of evidence supported to ensure that there is no doubt in the reader’s mind that Tom is innocent.  The jury’s decision declaring Robinson guilty is one of overt discrimination which outrages hopeful readers, who share  young Scout’s frustration.


To Kill A Mockingbird is a novel that leaves readers with lessons that stick with them long after they have read the book.  Sanjana Jampana (’18) describes the book’s themes saying, “it made me realize that I shouldn’t be afraid to say what I believe is morally right, even when society is unjust and cruel.”  Alyssa Slovin (’18) agrees, saying, “the book is about growing up and developing opinions for yourself based on your own passions and beliefs, and that’s such an important thing.” Lee has been able to captivate readers across the nation because of  these specific aspects of her books.  She tells an honest story–its ugly truths included–about the blatant racial injustice seen at the time.

Through one story, one young girl, one innocent,  falsely accused man, and one extremely bigoted society, Harper Lee has been able to make one of the most impactful statements about race in literature and the world. Her story hits harder than any lecture or plea to end racism could.  The readers are their own witnesses, and the unjust events that unfold before them leave the readers with a moral that will stick with them forever.

Harper Lee created a very simple story, one that even a young girl understood, and proved that these issues of humanity aren’t quite as complex as we make them out to be.  Harper Lee changed the way we perceive others as human beings, and her legacy in doing so is and will continue to be a true inspiration for all.