To Kill a Mockingbird

There was no doubt about it, I must soon enter this world, where on its surface fragrant ladies rocked slowly, fanned gently, and drank cool water.

But I was more at home in my father's world. People like Mr. Heck Tate did not trap you with innocent questions to make fun of you; even Jem was not highly critical unless you said something stupid. Ladies seemed to live in faint horror of men, seemed unwilling to approve wholeheartedly of them. But I liked them. There was something about them, no matter how much they cussed and drank and gambled and chewed; no matter how undelectable they were, there was something about them that I instinctively liked . . . they weren't--

"Hypocrites, Mrs. Perkins, born hypocrites," Mrs. Merriweather was saying.

--from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Scout Finch has a point. Not that I think that all ladies are hypocrites, or catty, or conniving, or whatever, or that all men are the opposite. But, speaking as a woman, I'd have to admit that most of the time, large groups of women annoy me. (As a friend of mine once pointed out: when mixed groups of adults gather, the men congregate on one side of the room and "talk about cool stuff like politics and space exploration," while the women, on the other side of the room, "talk about candles and children.") My favorite female friends are the ones who act the least "girly." Not that I don't enjoy shopping or wearing make-up or getting my nails done, but typically, women are more emotional and more manipulative and sillier than men are, and those stereotypical women are super-annoying. I'm definitely thankful for my non-stereotypical-woman friends!

Well, enough about gender differences. (Monica, I hope you weren't too offended by anything I said about women.) =) I was really going to post and say that I've finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird, and that it's about to be added to my favorite books list. It manages to address a very serious topic while still keeping a good amount of humor. I have to admit that I love the way Scout Finch is perfectly willing to fight anybody who crosses her or who insults her father, the way she starts "cussin'" in an effort to avoid going to school, and the way she explains to her Uncle Jack just exactly what he doesn't understand about children. (Leading him to tell her father, "I shall never marry, Atticus." "Why?" "I might have children.")

It really ticked me off that the jury convicted Tom Robinson of rape when it seemed pretty clear that he hadn't done it. And of course they convicted him only because he was black and his accusor was white. It just amazes me that people would convict a man because of his skin color, but unfortunately, I'm sure it happened quite frequently. Maybe it still does--I don't know. I hope not.

To Kill a Mockingbird definitely opened my eyes to how horrible racism really is. Not that I didn't already think it was horrible, but it's harder to see as an abstract concept. The story made it more concrete; it made it easier to see the results of racism in the lives of individuals. Mockingbird would really be a miserable read if Harper Lee hadn't balanced out the awfulness of racism with touches of humor.


Becca said...

It's funny that you post about the book. Lee Harper is a special guest at the ND graduation this year, and in honor they are showing the 60's movie of the book tomorrow night. I've never seen it, though I too loved the book, so I'm looking forward to it.

mel said...

I actually watched the movie first; that's what inspired me to read the book. (The book is better! But then, books almost always are.)

Monica said...

I flatter myself that I fall into the non-stereotypical category, so no, I'm not offended. :-) There have certainly been times *ahem*drama team*ahem* when I thought I would go crazy if I didn't have someone--male or female--to talk to about something other than candles or children. But I do have to take issue with your declaration that "typically, women are more emotional and more manipulative and sillier than men" because men talk about politics and space exploration and women talk about candles and children. That seems a bit of a non sequitur. What's emotional, manipulative, and silly about candles and children?

mel said...

Oops--I wasn't thinking about how those statements would sound next to each other. :) I wasn't trying to use the "candles and children" statement to argue that women are emotional, etc. I just wanted to include it because I liked the way that friend worded her opinion on the subject. It didn't really fit well anywhere, so I just threw some parentheses around it and stuck it in the middle of the paragraph. :)

Although, now that I think about it, in my experience women who are more interested in the "cool stuff" have tended to be less emotional, etc.

And yes, I would put you in the non-stereotypical category. :) (I'd like to think that I fall in that category as well, but as much as I love debating theology with my guy friends, I have to admit a bit of an interest in the "candles and children" areas of life...)

Monica said...

Aw, come on, Mel. You don't have to "admit" an interest as if that were something embarrassing or bad. Embrace all of it--the theology, the candles, the politics, the emotion, the logic, and the children--and enjoy it all. :-)