23 July 2014

A confession

One of the consequences of being reflexively oppositional is gaps in my reading. One of the books I've avoided because I've been told so often I must read it is "To Kill A Mockingbird." I finally read it over the past few days. Twice. I will read it many more times. I'd even join a book club, if an intelligent group of people agreed to discuss it. Ok, I probably wouldn't join the book club, but will read it many times, think about it often, and try to write a sentence or two worthy of it. I guess "Catcher in the Rye" is next.

The hero of "To Kill a Mockingbird"

I'm toying with the idea that the hero(s) of "To Kill a Mockingbird" is not Atticus Finch, but Boo and Sheriff Heck Tate. Boo strikes down Bob Ewell and Tate, over Atticus' objections, shapes the story of the killing to protect Boo. The evil, represented by Ewell, is untouched by Atticus' nobility and social conscience. It takes the recluse, the damaged man living outside society, and Sheriff Tate (who admits to Atticus that he "is not a good man" to kill and bury Ewell. Atticus' virtues can only protect the town and his children from the first mad dog.

More on "To Kill a Mockingbird"

The heart of the story is the realization that law and rationality is powerless against "the rigid and time honored codes of our society." 

"Tom had been given due process of the law to the day of his death; he had been tried openly and convicted by twelve good men and true; my father had fought for him all the way. Then Mr. Underwood's meaning became clear: Atticus had used every tool available to a free man to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men's hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed."