Diversity Writing


Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Years ago I watched a movie that would have such a profound effect on me, that I could later flag memories by their occurrence in time before or after this event. The movie was To Kill a MockingBird, starring Gregory Peck. Unfortunately, the local library didn’t stock the book, so reading the actual story had to wait until we moved to Seattle. However, the book, as with the movie, became a personal favorite.

The strongest memory I have from watching the movie when I was younger, was the rabid dog and Atticus’ killing of it. Somehow, the violence associated with the dog, it’s madness and the necessity of having to put it down, became connected in my mind with the other acts of violence. The dog, the lynching crowd, Bob Ewell, the conviction of Tom Robinson — all acts equally mad, though some events were varnished with the pine-tar scent of righteous justice.

I also felt an identity with this movie, odd as this might sound. I grew up in a small town, though mine was in Northeast Washington rather than the South. Like Scout, I was a also a tomboy — spending my summers in adventure, wearing dresses only under protest, and able to out wrestle many of the boys my own age. In addition, I had one older brother and like Scout, would spend much of my free time unsupervised, supposedly safe within the boundaries of the mind set of a small town in the 50’s. There were also other similarities between Scout’s tale and mine, but I’ll leave that for my online book Coming of Age in John Birch Country.

(I am such a tease.)

For now, I want to direct your attention to Loren’s wonderful multi-part review of the book, beginning with his astute introduction:

If Harper Lee had limited her portrayal of prejudice and discrimination merely to the trial of Tom Robinson, a victim of the most virulent form of racial prejudice, To Kill a Mockingbird would probably be little more than a historical footnote. Wisely, though, Lee manages to tie racial prejudice to the many other forms of prejudice we all face every day of our life.

You’ll have to scroll down to get to the first part. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with a movie, an old favorite of mine.

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