I love To Kill a Mockingbird. I really do. But am I the only one who’s heard enough? The 50th anniversary of the novel’s publication has spawned endless radio, TV, online, and magazine stories; in all of them, very, very sincere people say they looooooooooove the book, so, so, so much. They have given it to their children and nieces and nephews, and they read it eight times a year and cry every single time.
I was happy to hear NPR reporter Michele Norris, who’s African American, mildly point out on Diane Rehm’s show that reading the book is a different experience if you’re black. She said that though Harper Lee got the white characters and white family life just right, she was off just a little bit, here and there, on the black characters.
This remark was refreshing. It’s just to say it’s not a perfect book. A very good book. A favorite for many of us. But not necessarily perfect.
I’m always discomfited by that courtroom-scene ending: “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’.” (Worded differently in the movie and even more discomfiting to see than to read.)
Aren’t we moved so much (we white people) by this line partly because we’re so relieved and happy to see a good white person, one we identify with, the person we fancy that we would resemble if we living in Maycomb in the ’50’s? Atticus is so good even black people in racist Mississippi respect him! Wouldn’t we all be honored and touched if black people respected us that much? I feel a tiny bit pandered to in that scene. I feel a little manipulated.
I know, it’s ironic, what with my postings about trying not to be so negative. Here I am being negative. G’head. Tell me I’m wrong.