I am currently reading “To Kill A Mocking Bird” by Harper Lee…
I knew this one had an iconic status and I was trying to find out why exactly..
Then I came across this and it suddenly became clear…
Atticus Finch is a lawyer who stands up for an innocent Black guy who is framed just so that some Whites can keep up their tenuous social standing in a biased society…and the beautiful thing is that this complicated societal prejudice is narrated through the eyes, thoughts and words of the sprightly, curious and innocent five-year-old, Scout Finch.
Here is an excerpt : Scout Finch questions her dad in her very no-nonsense way about his work because she and her brother, Jem are subjected to some mindless bullying by other kids in school…and the way he answers her is truly endearing- no airs about his work, no talking her down…no you-wont-understands…he talks to her as if her understanding this is very vital to his winning the case in the courtroom…
I am posting this here for the message it gives to the entire Human race and more importantly , the message it passes on to parents- something that will never ever be irrelevant…
” Do you defend niggers, Atticus?” I asked him that evening.
“Of Course I do. Don’t say nigger, Scout. That’s common.
“That’s what everybody at school says”.
“From now on, it’ll be everybody less one—”
“Do all lawyers defend Negroes, Atticus?”
“Of course they do, Scout.”
“Then why did Cecil say you defended niggers? He made it sound like you were running a still”.
” I am simply defending a Negro. It’s a peculiar case- wont come to session till Summer”.
” If you shouldn’t be defending him, then why are you doing it?”
” For a number of reasons, Scout. The main one is, if I didn’t I couldn’t hold up my head in town, I couldn’t represent this county in the legislature, I couldn’t even tell you or Jem not to do something again.”
” You mean, if you didn’t defend that man, Jem and me wouldn’t have to mind you any more?”
” That’s about right”
” Because I could never ask you to mind me again. Scout, simply by the nature of the work, every lawyer gets at least one case in his lifetime that affects him personally. This one’s mine. You might hear some ugly talk about it at school, but do one thing for me if you will: you just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let them get your goat. Try fighting with your head for a change…”
I see two great things in this exchange-
1. He conveys to the world that you cannot tell somebody else what to do, even your own child- if you have not found your own peace…
2. He teaches the child to accept the world for what it is- and if you want to fight for a change, just fight with your heads…