Friday, July 8, 2011

To Kill a Mockingbird

Unable to find images of the 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, or a photo of Gregory Peck, I discovered this image of hungry baby mockingbirds. Adult mockingbirds are known to be staunch defenders of their family nest.

In less than a week, children and YA writers will gather in Montpelier for a weekend alumni residency at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. In preparation, I read To Kill a Mockingbird, and as I did, found myself thinking a great deal about parents, often portrayed in the children's literature.

As I read To Kill a Mockingbird, I found that I envied Scout for having Atticus Finch for a father. That is not to say that my dad wasn't a fine father, he was, but it was just that Atticus seemed the absolute perfect father for a daughter. That I pictured Gregory Peck as he appeared in the movie, and heard his voice as I read, only added to that.

Parenting happens to be an important topic in many of my previous posts because parents are often present in children's lit, or absent and obviously so. In narratives, when child or teen protagonists get into serious trouble, the author usually has created parents who, if they are not absent, are troubled. It adds to the profluency of the plot. But in Harper Lee's novel, we have the opposite. After all, Scout needs someone to provide sane perspective concerning the racism in community outside her home.

Why do I so admire Atticus? Many reasons. He loves his children and shows it, he has no problem allowing Scout to be the girl she is, dungarees and all. He encourages his children to think for themselves and to be compassionate, even to those who are mean and don't deserve it.

For anyone who might be perplexed on the subject of parenting, To Kill a Mockingbird is well worth the read, as good as any parenting text. Atticus teaches by example.  I doubt that Harper Lee set out to instruct anyone concerning parenting. She saw her book as a simple love story. Still, there is much to learn about what children need in a parent, and more, evoked through Harper Lee's amazing narrative.

My next post will appear in August. I am focusing on my own writing, enjoying a course on memoir given by poet Georgia Popoff, and spending the summer outside, as much as possible.

Summer in Central New York is short and not to be missed!

Enjoy yours.

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