Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Was she really a brat?

I was re-reading To Kill A Mockingbird over the weekend.

I had failed to do so during last year's The Big Read; in fact, having read it, I wonder if I had previously read it at all. This is how movies based on books skew your brain.

On The Big Read website, it says Scout is "bratty." I think the character is profoundly interesting - but then, I always did like bratty kids better than goody-two-shoes ones (being one of the latter myself).

My copy, obtained used at Jabberwocky, is obviously a cast off from last year's program. I would rather have the book in hardcover, but I can't see myself ever casting this paperback off to the shelves of the used book room.

Reading the story sort of reminded me of Newburyport, or any other small town with a history you could name.

And in that, I saw the value of a relatively insular community, where everyone knows your name, indignities are avoided, and hostilities simmer down after a while.

Well, if the hostilities are felt by a decent, reasonable person, that is.

Oh, well ... social strata aside, I was amazed at how parent-child relationships have changed and how children used to be able to roam about the neighborhood without fear ... oh, wait. But that was an isolated incident.

Nowadays one would be startled if a child called his/her father "sir." And I rarely see children roaming around unchaperoned, even though *wow* if I were a kid, I'd sure want to be out on the marsh, down on the Refuge, out on the water ... without parental oversight.

How can you hear the call of a loon (the bird) if you've got an iPod hooked to your person?

I can remember lying in a field of tall grass, just staring up at the sky, for long periods of time. I never went swimming by myself when I was little, but we went sledding, explored the woods (not too far, though - I was, and still am, scared of woods), climbed trees, and basically spent most of the day outside.

A great work of social commentary (although last summer, my neighbor wanted to kill one of our neighborhood mockingbirds because it was carrying on all night).

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." - Atticus Finch

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