Friday, September 29, 2017

How Scout Learned to Read (from To Kill A Mockingbird)

To Kill a Mockingbird is in the top ten of my favorite novels. I especially enjoyed this quote on reading that comes early in the book. On Scout's first day in school the teacher asks her to read. Scout has been reading anything and everything as long as she can remember.

When she discovered I was literate, she looked at me with more than faint distaste. Miss Caroline told me to tell my father not to teach me any more, it would interfere with my reading.

"Teach me?" I said in surprise. "He hasn't taught me anything, Miss Caroline. Atticus ain't got time to teach me anything," I added, when Miss Caroline smiled and shook her head. "Why he's so tired at night he just sits in the living room and reads."

"If he didn't teach you, who did?"  Miss Caroline asked good naturedly. "Somebody did. You weren't born reading The Mobile Register. . . Now you tell your father not to teach you any more. It's best to begin reading with a fresh mind. You tell him I'll take over from here and try to undo the damage."

I mumbled that I was sorry and retired, meditating upon my crime. I never deliberately learned to read, but somehow I had been wallowing illicitly in the daily papers. In the long hours of church - was it then I learned? I could not remember not being able to read hymns. Now that I was compelled to think about it, reading was something that just came to me. . . I never loved to read. One does not love breathing. (p. 17-18)



Amy Marie said...

Aww. Wow. Great section. I need to reread this, it's been so long.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

I adore this.