Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Revisiting Scout, Atticus, and Boo

I finished reading Love by Toni Morrison last week (my least favorite of hers that I've read, which is to say, it was still quite good) and promptly started scanning my bookshelves for my next read. My collector's edition of To Kill a Mockingbird caught my eye, and I immediately decided now was the time to re-read it. By chance, both of these books were Christmas presents from my pops. Have I mentioned lately that my dad is the coolest? Cause he's the coolest.
Atticus & Scout
Sunday night, I started reading, and couldn't stop. I read all the way until the jury was out at Tom Robinson's trial when I remembered that I had to work the next day and should probably give it a rest. I didn't have time to pick it up again until last night, and then I gleefully read until I got to the last, beautiful sentence.

I can't expect that everyone else is such a fanatic that, like me, they own a To Kill a Mockingbird t-shirt, or have annoyed a table of friends at a late-night diner by quoting, YES, quoting this story with their brother. (That actually happened. Just ask my friend Beth, who gifted me with the aforementioned t-shirt the Christmas after this memorable event.)

But even so, it's safe to assume we all were required to read this in high school, right? RIGHT? And you've watched the movie, starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch?


Ok, I'll calm down. But even though I know the story by heart, when I got to the end last night, good God was I all choked up. The final scene, Atticus reads to Scout as Jem's sleeping. Boo Radley's just rescued the kids from Bob Ewell, whose character scared the complete shit out of me when I was a kid (you know, the scene where he's staggering toward them in the car). As Atticus puts the half-asleep Scout in bed, they have this exchange:
He guided me to the bed and sat me down. He lifted my legs and put me under the cover.
'An' they chased him 'n' never could catch him 'cause they didn't know what he looked like, an' Atticus, when they finally saw him, why he hadn't done any of those things ... Atticus, he was real nice ...'

His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me.

'Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.'

He turned out the light and went into Jem's room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.
Atticus & Tom Robinson
It's so simple, but it's a masterpiece.

To Kill a Mockingbird is the only book Harper Lee has ever published in her lifetime. Though the universal greatness of it does make me wonder, why weren't there more? Are there more? At the same time, it's enough. That's how good, and important, I believe this book is.

Unfortunately, I can't find all my favorite moments as video clips from the movie, but at the very least, here's Atticus in the courtroom, making his closing statements in defense of Tom Robinson:

Now, who wants to hang out and quote To Kill a Mockingbird?


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