What Is Literature?
A lot of teenagers tend to be intimidated by reading older books. They stick to what is popular. They read authors like John Green and Sarah Dessen. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, but there is so much more to be found in older novels. They hold secrets that cannot be found in modern books.
Literature cannot be defined by saying the only books that can be called literature are ones that are ancient and irrelevant to today’s society. Most older books are relevant to our society or else they wouldn’t be in print anymore. Shakespeare may have written his plays and sonnets during the 16th century, but they are still easily accessible on the Internet or any Barnes and Noble.
So what is literature, if it is not full of old dusty leather-bound tomes? If you were to ask Google, it would tell you that literature can be described like so: “written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit” That means that literature is anything that is fairly old and good. So, how does one delve into the wonderful world that is literary art?
Throughout the course of It’s Lit..erature we will explore that question and more about what literature entails.
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To Kill a Mockingbird
In the introduction to It’s Lit..erature I mentioned that literature holds secrets that cannot be found in modern books. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a great place to start searching for those secrets. It’s a coming of age story about a young girl named Scout in 1930’s Alabama but the struggles that Scout and those close to her endure transcend time.
To Kill a Mockingbird is still relevant today because the issues the novel deals with still exist today. In the book, Scout’s father is a middle aged lawyer. During the summer of Scout’s sixth year, her father is appointed to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. This is definitely a sensitive issue now but even more so back then when Jim Crow laws and segregation ravaged the American South.
So why should you read it? Jim Crow laws and segregation no longer exist. That’s true, but racism and other prejudices still exist in our society today. To Kill a Mockingbird provides not only insight to the struggles of black people and open minded white people during the 1930’s but also a lesson on how to check our own prejudices and maybe a lesson or two on how to live our lives. Atticus tells his daughter Scout that most people tend to be good once you finally see them. He teaches her to respect everyone regardless of their race or anything else, for that matter.
It’s a good lesson we all should learn and appreciate.
Sarah King is a 17 year old senior at Letcher County Central. After high school she hopes to major in English and become a teacher. Until then, she is content reading books and writing in her free time.