I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected. – Harper Lee, quoted in Newquist, 1964
Just found out that Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird, died this morning in her sleep at the age of 89.
I never read the book but loved the movie. Scout’s friend, Dill Harris, was inspired by Harper’s childhood friend and neighbor, Truman Capote. Capote mentioned that the character Boo Radley was based on a real man who lived down the road from where the two friends lived. “In my original version of Other Voices, Other Rooms I had that same man living in the house that used to leave things in the trees, and then I took that out. He was a real man, and he lived just down the road from us. We used to go and get those things out of the trees. Everything she wrote about it is absolutely true. But you see, I take the same thing and transfer it into some Gothic dream, done in an entirely different way.”
To Kill A Mockingbird was an immediate success, winning the Pulitzer Prize. Through the eyes of two children we see racism in Alabama during the Great Depression when a black man goes on trial for the rape of a white woman. Harper dealt honestly with the issues of tolerance and justice in a divided Southern society. One of the scenes that I remember was when Atticus and his children faced a vicious lynch mob in the middle of the night.
The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator’s father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explains the novel’s impact by writing, “In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism.” – Wikipedia
Notes to Women salute Harper Lee who was not afraid to address serious issues such as rape and racial inequality.
The book to read is not the one which thinks for you, but the one which makes you think. No book in the world equals the Bible for that.
From childhood on, I did sit in the courtroom watching my father argue cases and talk to juries.