Tuesday, July 14, 2015
To Kill a Mockingbird or Truly Misjudge a Finch
What were the odds that Harper Lee's lost novel "Go Set A Watchman" would be discovered. only to be published in the midst of all the resurrected debate over the Confederate Battle flag. Talk about divine intervention. And that Atticus Finch, the character of her earlier much beloved Pulitzer Prize winning novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" would become a segregationist. The world works in strange ways.
Last night my DH and I attended a showing of the 1962 film version of Lee's first book. Having read the reviews (and spoilers) of the to be released novel, I had to look at her father's character with shaded eyes. Gregory Peck's Oscar winning portrayal of the character was that of a steady, fair minded small town attorney. But I questioned every hesitation he took. While everyone else was noting his thoughtful pause before saying anything as that of a quiet man trying to see the good in mankind and do what is right. I wondered if it was a hesitation of second thought - should I do what is right according to the laws I am sworn to uphold or follow what I truly believe? Was he having a moment of doubt?
When I start reading the second book today am I going to find that all we grew up thinking about Atticus Finch was a myth? Is his character going to turn into that of so many people of the south who were in denial of reality. Is he going to share the ignorance he accused Tom Robinson's jury of having. If so, he is worse than the lot of them. They were uneducated and most likely feared what would come if the black population were given equal rights. Finch, as an educated man, knew better.
So, I ask myself, what is the reason, the justification behind the educated people of the south (and many of the north) for wanting to deny the people of color equal rights under the law and respect in society?
It goes back to a line in the opening monologue by Scout in the film, (and I paraphrase) ". . . after all we were told all we had to fear was fear itself." How prophetic.