Waxing Philosophic: To Kill A Mockingbird

by | Nov 21, 2004 | Books, Media, Movies

To Kill A MockingbirdIt’s amazing. It’s been over 15 years since I last read Harper Lee’s masterpiece, To Kill A Mockingbird. It was my 7th grade year. English. We took the entire year reading the book in class. It was a unique experience. We spent the entire year reading chunks of the book and analyzing what we read. Of course, at the age of 12, it’s nearly impossible for someone of that age to truly appreciate what Harper Lee wrote. After we finished reading the entire book, we were treated to spend several class periods watching the movie version. And that, is what leads me to today.

It’s over 15 years later and I’m sitting here watching To Kill A Mockingbird, the movie. It’s one of the films on Turner Classic Movies’ “The Essentials” list. And rightly so. It’s one of Gregory Pecks’ greatest roles, in my humble opinion. And the rest of the film is masterly portrayed. From Mary Badham and Philip Alford as Scout and Jem to Robert Duvall’s first role as the mysterious Boo Radley, the film is truly a masterpiece of American cinema.

It’s been a long time since I’ve thought about that book. Now that I’m older, I can see more about what the book is really about. At the root of it all is fear… but that’s a bit on the generalized side of things. It’s about how man’s inhumanity to man can really be overcome by the example of one man. It’s about fear of the unknown. More importantly.. well, let me quote a portion of Amazon.com’s take on the film:

“A beautiful and deeply affecting adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee, the film retains a timeless quality that transcends its historically dated subject matter (racism in the Depression-era South) and remains powerfully resonant in present-day America with its advocacy of tolerance, justice, integrity, and loving, responsible parenthood.”

I think I’m an okay writer, but that just sums up everything about the film. I don’t think I could write anything that would come close explaining the great themes of the film. Gregory Pecks’ character, Atticus Finch, showed the entire town that there was some hope of actually overcoming the hatred that was so rampant back then. He personified the courage to stand up for the rights of every person, no matter what their beliefs, color or station in life was. Atticus, more importantly, showed his children, Jem and Scout, that they had no reason to let the fears of the world dictate what their lives should be. A grand concept for the time of the Great Depression. Granted, in the book and film, most of the people in the town never understood what Atticus had done, but all of us are able to see the significance and the importance of the example of Atticus Finch. It’s a prime example that, despite the many levels of the gross display of man’s inhumanity to man, we see that there’s always someone out there that will stand up and show us that there’s some hope for all of us. Yes, despite all the bizarre and strange things that happen in this world, like Atticus Finch, we can overcome anything.

Yes, believe it or not, there is some hope for this crazy, mixed up world of ours. And if you’ve never read the book (or seen the film for that matter), it’s highly recommended.

That one’s for free. 🙂