Wednesday, June 02, 2010

"To Kill a Mockingbird" at 50

I was driving home today from an appointment when I tuned the radio to NPR and discovered that this is the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee's publication of "To Kill a Mockingbird."

This is a story that resonates with me on many levels. I know I read and studied the book in high school in the late 1970s, but I am sure I saw the movie long before that. Gregory Peck's portrayal of Atticus Finch remains as clear in my mind as when I saw the film as a child. As much as I love my own parents, I do have to admit fantasizing that Atticus was my father. I suspect many of us who came of age with this movie felt the same way. And while I'm not sure I can sort out my memories of the novel from the film, I do remember how much I identified with Scout.

When I got older and started to write, I learned that this was the only book Lee had ever published. That always saddened me. I imagined that after having written this one story--this story that had captured the hearts of so many readers--perhaps Lee felt she had no other story to match it.

Maybe if there is just one glorious story in you, then telling it, and it alone is not a bad thing.

My youngest son's 8th grade class is finishing up a unit on "To Kill a Mockingbird" at school. I am glad that this story is still being taught, even as I am saddened that racial conflict is still too much a part of our society.

Perhaps in another 50 years, the problems this novel examines will be ancient history.

No comments:

Post a Comment