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Remembering Harper Lee

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, passed  away on February 19.  Photo from: Wikimedia Commons

Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird, passed away on February 19. Photo from: Wikimedia Commons

Ariel Barbera, Reporter

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To Kill a Mockingbird author Nelle Harper Lee passed away at age 89 on February 19.  In 2015, Lee published her final novel Go Set a Watchman, a sequel to her classic novel.

Lee was born on April 28, 1926 and spent her childhood growing up in Monroeville, Alabama.  When she was 23, she moved to New York and worked as an airline reservation clerk while pursuing her writing career.  Eight years later, she sent in her first manuscript to J.B. Lippincott & Co., and on July 11, 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird was first published and became a critical success.

Students and staff in Susquehannock were saddened by the news of her death but continue to pay respect to the classic novel by reading over it each year.

Students in the sophomore year read over the literary classic at some point during the year. Photo by: Ariel Barbera

Students in their sophomore year read over the literary classic at some point during the year. Photo by: Ariel Barbera

Librarian Kayse Corrieri read the literary classic when she was in high school and continues to enjoy the unique characterization in the novel.

“I think when the book came out, it was a time when there was a lot of controversy, and I’m sure that Harper Lee [restored] a lot of trust in people,” said Corrieri.  “I think her characters were all dynamic, and the message of the book was a really good one at the time.  It still is today.”

Junior Kristy Smith enjoyed reading To Kill a Mockingbird during her sophomore year and considers it as one of her favorite classic novels.

“I read it last year in Ms. Cieslewicz’s class, and I really liked it,” said Smith.  “Even though it’s older, I like that [To Kill a Mockingbird] can relate to society today.  It’s not just about racism, but it can relate to struggles and how [the characters] got through all of that.”

Lee’s classic novel caught the attention of millions of people by relating to the struggles of society.  Many of the highlighted issues in the book still go on today, such as racism, bullying and more.

“Even though Scout is a girl and likes to dress like a guy, she still made it through [the bullying],” said Smith.  “I think Harper Lee inspired people.  She inspired me to keep going.  I don’t always dress like other girls, and I like living my life the way I want to, and I don’t let other people’s opinions get to me.”

Junior Hannah Naylor found Harper Lee to be a big inspiration to many people today.

“She definitely influenced a lot of females to write books,” said Naylor.  “Back then, there were a lot of male writers, but today there are mostly female writers.”

Junior Casey Beall appreciated the characterization that Lee interpreted into the novel.

“I like the mysteriousness [the book] had with Boo Radley,” said Beall.  “In the end, I liked how he was a really nice character.”

Another issue established in the novel was about how rumors tended to ruin reputations and how society today is still affected by it.

“[Boo Radley] fits well with the whole rumor thing in society today,” said Naylor.

English Teacher Sara Cieslewicz has a mural painted on the wall of the classic novel. Photo by: Ariel Barbera

English Teacher Sara Cieslewicz has a mural of the classic novel painted on her wall. Photo by: Ariel Barbera

In 2015, Harper Lee published a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird called Go Set a Watchman.  The book had a variety of different views, ranging from good to bad, but overall many were excited to finally see the classic literary novel get a sequel.

“I like the book [Go Set a Watchman].  I really like the characters in the book.  I think they’re pretty timeless,” said Corrieri.  “I even like grown up Scout.  I think that she was really quirky and fun in the book.”

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird will continue to be recognized as a literary classic and continues to have an impact today.

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The student news site of Susquehannock High School in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania.
Remembering Harper Lee