Water can be clear or murky, powerful as the ocean, or powerfully subtle as the formation of caverns. Water creates life, yet can be destructive. It covers our earth. It fills our bodies. Water evokes mystery, and moodiness. Unpredictable as water is, it is useful, and it cleans things up.

That pretty much describes what I want to say and how I want my posts to be.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


If you look, or have looked,  in my profile under, favorite books, the first entry marked “hands down” is To Kill A Mockingbird a novel by Harper Lee. Anyone who knows me for any length of time knows my affinity for this book.. ten years ago for Father’s Day, one of my sons presented me with the very special gift of the 40th anniversary special printing edition of my beloved book.. My how time flies. It’s been ten more years already, and I didn’t realize until a friend pointed out to me that yesterday, May 25, 2010, was the 50th anniversary of it’s printing.

I was I believe in fourth grade and looking for a subject of a book report when my mother, and avid reader, gave me her copy of the book. She mentioned she had just had a second read and still enjoyed it very much. “It might be a little old (adult) for your grade but if you need help understanding anything ask me, or look up words you don’t know in the dictionary.” was her only preface. I think she enjoyed seeing me fall into the book and love it. I think I read and re-read it for book reports each time I had a new teacher for a few years. Then I did a paper on it in high school. This classic novel has been more to me than just entertainment. Being from the south I related to the children in the book and the world from their perspective. But even more than that, I came, through this book, to understand literature. I don’t remember reading just for pleasure much before this.

The book’s theme “..it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird, because all they do is sing beautiful music for everyone to hear.” And how that symbolism is used in the book to represent the struggle and crisis of the characters, opened me up to seeing how good writing uses analogy and symbol to enhance our understanding of a story on a conscious and, even better, on a subconscious level. It also showed me how the effective use of such is a true art.

This was Harper Lee's one and only novel. It won her a pulitzer prize and has been a best seller all these years. I used to wish she had writen other books but then when you create your masterpiece...

Aside from the literary lessons, the story itself showed me a glimpse of what kind of man I wanted to see myself as, when I grew up, in the character of Atticus Finch, who is a gentleman southern lawyer in the 1930’s.

There are two stories woven together to become one great tale here. There is the adult story of conflict as Atticus, who is a widower father of two children, ends up court appointed to defend a black man of raping a white woman in a small bigoted southern town of Maycomb, Alabama. As he deals graciously with anything thrown his way, there is a bigger and more intimate story of the children’s adventures real and make believe, and how they intertwine into the adult’s world. And the story is told from their perspective, especially that of the young Scout (Jean Louise) Atticus’ daughter. As the story progresses the children, Scout, her older brother Jem, and their precocious summer neighbor Dill, are intrigued with a very reclusive mentally ill neighbor, and the rumors that have floated around town for some years about him. In the mean time they at first see their father Atticus as a boring, old, unremarkable man. But the events of the story open their eyes, and they, by the end, see him as a hero against ignorance and racism, and for the causes of justice and tolerance. As well they learn a parallel lesson of acceptance in their private fascination with the mentally ill neighbor Boo Radley. The story has a climatic ending with some surprise heroes.

If you have never read this book then take the 50th anniversary as your motivation to pick up a copy. If you have, then maybe do another read of the classic. You will not be sorry. I do believe I’m going to have another journey to Maycomb, Alabama in my special edition. Plus I think I will queue the motion picture on my video service. Gregory Peck does an outstanding performance, but the movie does leave out a few things, and a few characters. It’s, none the less, an excellent film.

Enjoy! M.Pierre


  1. Nice review. All you've said about the book makes me want to try reading it this summer. Wish I had read that as a kid like you did; but considering the rape and racial themes, that's probably why I never ran across it in the school library back then.

    Also a nice pic of Harper Lee, I suppose she must be around 80 now; but poor thing really needs a good hairdresser, don't you think?

  2. funny thing i was thinking, if you've seen the movie, the girl playing Scout has the same hairdo, Scout of course being an autiobiographical portrayal of Harper.
    i love Harper's happy crinkly smile though.

  3. OMG you're right, that is Scout's haircut . . . how very interesting.

    But yes, Harper has a lovely smile. Wouldn't you love to spend an afternoon sitting on her front porch, sipping iced tea and just listening to her talk?