Friday, February 12, 2016

Harper Lee

I wasn't ever the greatest fan of To Kill a Mocking Bird, but I read it in school and thought Gregory Peck had to be the best casting choice for Atticus possible.
When I heard that Go Set a Watchman was being published, I figured I should read it. Then the reviews came. So much disappointment-that colorblind, progressive Atticus Finch may have some racism in him. The disappointment with the character translated into panning the entire book.
I note that the book was actually written years ago, so I would expect the culture and attitudes of the time to be portrayed and not be rewritten with today's attitudes.
So, I had to read it (or listen to it.) Which I did this week. I wasn't pleased with the few instances of blaspheming in the final sections. I too was surprised-at least at first- in the 'real' Atticus Finch, but on reflection I don't think it is inconsistent with the Atticus Finch of To Kill
The narrator is Scout, but I think the real hero of the novel is her Uncle Jack, who tries to reconcile the attitudes of Atticus with the history. Uncle Jack could possibly be the real voice of Harper Lee in the novel.
Without further comment of my own (as this has been explored on this site before), I will say that Uncle Jack makes the comment and tries to make the case that race was only incidental to the war between the states and the civil rights upheavals of the 50's and 60's. The real issue in both cases was liberty, the right of community to govern itself, states rights, and the rest.
It was interesting and well-written, and effective at getting one to think in terms outside of today's culture and attitudes. One may not like characters or the political voice, but that is outside the scope whether it is decent literature.
Oremus pro invicem!

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