Sunday, January 28, 2007
I just got through listening to a report on NPR about a stage play in Alabama. The play was "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee. Traditionally, Harper Lee attends the play every year and meets with the students. I am a hardcore "Mockingbird" fan and idolize Gregory Peck's portrayal of Atticus in the movie adaptation. The report on NPR was part of a larger report about different race based issues in the south including a report about the reunion of the Freedom Riders. I started thinking to myself, what exactly was it about "Mockingbird" that I liked so much? Why does it make me so emotional to watch the scene where Tom is convicted and as Atticus walks out of the court room all the black people stand up and the old black reverend says "Ms. Jean Louise, stand up. Your daddy is passing." Is it the tragedy of the verdict or maybe the respect that an entire community of second class citizens show to the only man who would stand up for their rights? Why does the book persist as a classic tale? What is the intrinsic quality about this story? Dignity. In the face of all the adversity that the characters face, the one quality that I find standing out is dignity. Race is only the backdrop, but dignity is only colorless quality that permeates all the protagonists.