photo by Josh Scholten
Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
Scout Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird
How can I appreciate something that is a constant, so predictable that it never registers in my consciousness until the moment it is rent asunder, as fragile as a web hanging heavy with evening frost?
Within that deprivation, with the realization that what I rely on for my very existence is no longer a given, suddenly it becomes the most precious thing of all.
For that ephemeral acceptance of my fragility, I am truly and forever grateful.
Scout and Atticus Finch
Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird was published fifty years ago, and has never lost momentum as a life changing book through three generations. I just finished reading a compendium of individual reactions to the book to mark this anniversary and found a common theme. Each writer, many of whom are authors themselves, felt that universal appreciation for Lee’s book was largely due to the well drawn characters who inhabit this small Southern town. Everyone wants to be a Scout, or a big brother Jem, or have a father like Atticus. Everyone knows a Boo.
The book has larger themes –of prejudice, teaching tolerance for differences and making a commitment to doing the right thing even at great personal cost. What makes the themes accessible is our connection to Harper Lee’s people.
We readers become Scout, who, with child-like acceptance and trust, looks into the frightened eyes of someone who himself had been feared and misunderstood.
We too can say, “Hey, Boo.”
And mean it.