Blog 961 – 04.11.2018
Real courage is more than being a soldier with a gun, an athletic star with a ball, or even a dedicated first responder with a medical kit. Real courage is as today’s first picture quote says, doing what one believes one should do no matter what. One of my all time favorite novels, To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, is just such a story of real courage in the face of a lot of cruel ignorance and most certain defeat.
The story revolves around three wonderful willful white children and their antics in a deeply segregated small town of the nineteen thirties Depression south. There are two strong male heroes in the story, something you seldom see in modern stories, but then it was a very different and for sure no less wrong-headed world in which these three children lived and played. They lost their idealistic innocence early on a hot summer day in a courthouse in Macomb County Alabama.
In the beginning of the story a judge comes calling late one evening to visit Scout and Jem’s dad whom they both called simply Atticus, not disrespectfully, that was just his name and they never learned to call him anything else. Atticus was a widowed lawyer trying to raise two motherless children with the help of a black house keeper that they all three called Cal, short for Calpurnia. The judge came to ask Atticus to represent a black man named Tom who was accused of raping a young white woman. Atticus knew that he had drawn the short stick and had not even a drunkard’s prayer of a chance of getting Tom off but said he would take the case.
The, To Kill A Mocking Bird, title of the book comes from a story Atticus told Jem and Scout about what his daddy told him when he bought him his first rifle. He said, that he knew, that sooner or later the temptation to shoot at birds was going to become too great but hoped that if he must shoot at birds that he would shoot at jays or crows, nuisance birds, he probably would not hit them any way, but asked him not to shoot at mockingbirds for all they ever did was sing their hearts out for us. Atticus’ daddy said it would be a sin to kill a mockingbird.
The black man Tom was charged falsely of a crime he did not commit. He was a good man, as good and fine as gold and his only sin it turns out was having pity on and trying to help a poor white girl who was doomed to care for a houseful of siblings and her drunken, ignorant, and abusive father.
Atticus makes a valiant effort to get Tom off from the ridiculous and completely unsupported charge. Everyone in that court room knows there was no rape and that the young woman was beaten by her own father for breaking a southern code, she, a white girl, kissed a black man. Tom is found guilty by an all white male jury while Scout, Jem, and their summer neighbor friend, Dill, watch from the balcony of the courtroom with the black pastor and his congregation, all come to support Tom and see southern justice not done. As Tom is lead out of the courtroom to prison Atticus tells him they will appeal the decision. But there is no appeal for Atticus learns that night that Tom was shot and killed trying to escape.
The father of the pitiful young girl hates Atticus for showing him, them, up in court and attacks his children in the woods near their house coming home at night from a fall school play. Their reclusive neighbor whom they call Boo and whom they have never seen comes to their rescue and kills their attacker. He was the second male hero in the story or really the third because Tom was a courageous hero too for trying to help a poor young white girl even though he knew it would probably be misunderstood and end badly for him. Read the book or watch the movie and see if you do not agree that is true.
Your friend and fellow traveler,