Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To Kill a Mockingbird-Harper Lee

By Keith Fisher

When you write a blog feature called the Dead Authors Society, you run the risk of having people come back and say, “Hey, that author is still alive.” Today’s author is indeed very much alive. I hope she remains with us, for many years to come.

Nelle Harper Lee was born at a wonderful, yet turbulent time. Growing up with the likes of Truman Capote in a neighborhood where children were free to have adventures in their own yards. Neighbors were friendly and looked out for each other.

Her book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is a reflection of that childhood. Published in 1960 and transferred to the silver screen, is one of the all time classics of literature. That success, I believe, squelched her efforts to get other works published. She wrote them, but wasn’t happy with her writing. Therefore, she didn’t submit those manuscripts. I hope in twenty years or more, we’ll get to see those other books. She is a magnificent writer.

In, To Kill a Mockingbird, there are so many memorable scenes it’s hard to pick one to write about. The courtroom scenes, the mad dog scene, even the knifing, were very poignant, but I think in that moment when Atticus Finch steps forward after being spit on, everyone expects him to lay his adversary flat, but he doesn’t. The amount of self-control portrayed there, was marvelous. I wish I could write characters that would hold generations of readers spellbound, like the author of this story, did.

To Kill a Mockingbird is required reading for many literature courses, as it should be. I recommend it for everyone. And if you want to see the movie, Gregory Peck’s rendition of Atticus Finch, won him and Oscar.

In my light research about Harper Lee, I came across an aledged letter she wrote in 1966. It was sent to the editor of a newspaper, in response to the attempts of a Richmond, Virginia area school board to ban To Kill a Mockingbird as “immoral literature”.

Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board’s activities, and what I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.

Surely it is plain to the simplest intelligence that “To Kill a Mockingbird” spells out in words of seldom more than two syllables a code of honor and conduct, Christian in its ethic, that is the heritage of all Southerners. To hear that the novel is “immoral” has made me count the years between now and 1984, for I have yet to come across a better example of doublethink.

I feel, however, that the problem is one of illiteracy, not Marxism. Therefore I enclose a small contribution to the Beadle Bumble Fund that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.

Few authors ever reach the success Harper Lee did with To Kill a Mockingbird. She will be remembered throughout the generations. It’s hard to build on that. A person feels they will never be that good again. I wish she could’ve bridged that gap.


Anna Maria Junus said...

Great book!

Every author dreams of writing that book that sets them up for life, but it is sad that we haven't had anything more from her.

Tristi Pinkston said...

This is a book and a movie that everyone should see.

Ann Best said...

One of my favorite books. I read it when I was a teenager, a long time ago, in the Fifties. I still have a copy (well, the old one's gone; this is a new one). When I want to feel good, and read a great book, I open it and read passages.

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