This story about a 20-year-old African-American man named Bigger Thomas living in the slums on Chicago’s South Side who murders the wealthy white daughter of his employer and his African-American lover in a span of 24 hours is one I wish had been on the required reading list in high school many years ago. Back then, To Kill a Mockingbird was popular. I wonder now why this was not because it takes the issue of racial prejudice to another strata. I admit however, I probably would not have grasped this powerful novel back then.
One thing which struck me while reading was that I cannot think of reading a story ever where I actually felt sorry for the murderer in addition to the victim. This story is told in such a way that I kept reminding myself Bigger was a man who murdered two innocent women.
During the trial, the defense attorney’s lengthy plea for leniency is incredibly written. The prosecution’s closing argument is beyond belief as well. Considering the length of time since this novel was published, and the occurrences since, I question if much of anything has really changed when it comes to racism in this country.