What classic book has changed your view on life, social mores, political views, or religion? For this month’s Classic Club question I have two answers (obviously I have a problem keeping it to just one book).
To Kill a Mockingbird: This book had a big effect on the way I view the world and on what comes to mind when you think of a hero. One of its most important lessons didn’t even make it into the famous film version. When Scout’s brother Jem destroys an elderly woman’s garden his dad makes him spend time reading to her. She (Mrs. Dubose) is addicted to morphine and is often crabby, but Atticus’ punishment is meant to teach Jem that we should show others kindness no matter how they treat us. We often have no idea what they’ve gone through in their own lives.
Obviously there are also huge lessons about racial injustice, standing up to bullies, setting an example by your actions instead of your words, etc. Boo’s character teaches us that you should never trust rumors and stories to form your opinion of a person. You can find friends anywhere if you’re willing to get to know them. It’s such a beautiful book to read, especially when read at an impressionable age.
The other book is The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. This dark tale taught me that the sins we commit have a larger effect on our own souls than on the lives of others. You may think you’ve “gotten away” with something, but that guilt will haunt you. It taught me that you have to live with the decisions you make, even if their consequences aren’t immediately visible. A person’s outer appearance often doesn’t reflect their true nature.