I found this piece looking through the drafts on my blog site. I like to flip through old posts when I am searching for the writing muse. It is important to note, I wrote this around February 2016 when I heard that Harper Lee died, but before I read Go Set A Watchman. This one is pitch perfect for right now. Things are so topsy turvy in my world for so many different reasons. Returning to an old friend, in this case the book To Kill A Mockingbird, is one way to cope with all that life throws at us. Enjoy!
I remember where I bought the book. It was small, local bookstore in Scituate, MA on Front Street, the main drag near the water. I believe it was spring. I heard about To Kill A Mockingbird in an 8th grade English classroom where we were required to do book reports. Each student presented on the book that they read. I decided to use these presentations to gather a list of books to read. I miss eighth grade English so much for the book recommendations. It was great! As soon as I heard about Harper Lee’s book from one of my classmates, I wanted it.
Once I had the book, it did not take very long to finish it. Lee’s world was one I knew all too well. Many misunderstood characters, who were treated and thought of poorly, by the general public, but validated by one worldly family. And of course there was the sage advice of Atticus Finch, dispensed freely to his children, Jem and Scout.
Seek to understand and be understood.
“First of all,” he said, “if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-“
“-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
Love the planet and all its creatures
“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mocking bird.”
It was the one book that proved that there are good people in the world, and there was hope for me, too. People can leave their assumptions aside. People can think one negative thing, then change their mind. And perhaps most significant, there were advocates out there for the poor, sick, or otherwise disenfranchised.
Gifts of Kindness never get old
I had this world in which I could escape to where a white man defended a black man’s innocence based on the content of his character and proper behavior. Or where an extremely introverted, misunderstood man, named Boo Radley, wanted to build a relationship with two children, Jem and Scout, by leaving them gifts in a tree hole.
Well, until someone plugged that hole.
The world Lee created was a safe one, a controlled narrative where the only surprises seemed to be positive ones. Even when you were sure things were going poorly, Hope was infused in her words. Good would triumph over evil.
I was so sad to hear of Harper Lee’s passing. Thank you for writing To Kill A Mockingbird.