“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird (Page 23)

As soon as I read this, it stirred something in me I couldn’t quite explain at the time. I also knew that I’d seen something similar before. I spent a minute trying to recall it before I remembered a Venn diagram style poster for The Fault in Our Stars movie. It had two circles, books and food, and the overlapping area was labeled “things essential to life”. As anyone, especially Hazel (the main character of The Fault in Our Stars) could tell you, breathing is also very important to life.

The quotation adds more depth to a scene full of character development and more annoying teacher than Scout (or myself, for that matter) could ever hope to handle. I won’t go on about the teacher, but her disdain for a first grader who can read is puzzling. Scout, or Jean Louise, has been reading for as long as she can remember, and it’s become a part of her as much as breathing. You can’t try and take something like that away because it won’t end well. In this case, it resulted in her making a deal with her father so she could read anyway.

I haven’t read the whole story so it’s hard to say how much it relates, but reading seems to be a large part of the Finch family, and it means a lot to Scout. They are poor, it’s the great depression, but they are not near as poor as some. They take things for granted. I’ve read through numerous discussion forums and other blog posts on this particular quote in relation to the book and other things, and that is what most take out of it. We take our natural abilities for granted, and don’t realize they are special until someone tries to suppress them. One particular website,, gave very good descriptions of reading. This one in particular spoke to me: “It always strikes me as amazing that in a little pile of stitched up, typed-on papers, a person can get so lost, so far away.” Is that what the teacher wanted to prevent? Or was it more of an act of control? Reading more seems to be the only way to find out. Most of the information about school during this time is about funding and a lack thereof. Not that I’m complaining. I love to read.

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