Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Mockingbird Song

We are writing a narrative today in response to the death of Harper Lee who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. We are to honor her in some way depicting a scene or the word mockingbird, or something else. I chose to focus on the theme. Taking place in the Depression Era 30's in a fictional rural town in Alabama, poverty and religion carried with them deep hatred and anger from the events of the Civil War.


She read the book first, of course; it became her favorite. She believed she was Scout, Atticus's daughter. After all, in real life, her father was an esteemed lawyer with his own respectable practice tucked in the back room of an auto parts store in a small town. She looked up to him.

She had a brother like Jem, too. They shared adventures growing up. The anecdotes of Boo Radley storing a small toy Indian and other items in a tree hollow was something she and her Jem could easily imagine. They used to run from the old man who lived in a shack in the neighborhood with upward of 39 cats.

But when Scout observed racial tension and slavery, she learned life is not fair, courage not always rewarded, and justice does not always mean winning, They admired their father for what he dared take on to change, if but a small slice of the world. After all, she grew up in the turmoil of the 50's and 60's.

Surely, the mockingbird referred to in the title had to be the same one in one of her favorite tunes as a child - Patti Page's Mockingbird Hill.  "Tra-la-la....,,.tra-la di dee dee" ....Scout always associated the song with the movie in her own mind, even though the movie was renowned for its beautiful soundtrack as well. Surely there was a real Mockingbird Hill just beyond town.

All said and done, Atticus, was an excellent father and righteous man. He could do no wrong in Scout's eyes.  In the real life story of Scout, the reader, however, racism became the storm that hovered over and the blister that festered between father and daughter. For when it came to his own daughter, her falling in love with a colored man would not do!
"You have no idea what you will be up against," he said. "I forbid it."

A father's love is not perfect; they do the best they can do. We discover they are not always as tolerant as we believe. Without his blessing, it was not to be. But it did not end then, not yet, as the couple fought to stay together and succeed. She became so worn down and resentful, her love let her go. Disappointed and her heart broken, she felt betrayed. The relationship with her father was permanently damaged and she found it hard to trust again.

Hence, no happy ending as in the timely advent to the big screen,"Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"- with Sidney Poitier, Spencer Tracey as the father, and Katharine Hepburn....and what Scout's father did, in her real life, was something I'm sure Atticus Finch would never do.


  1. I think the fact that when our own tolerance is really tested it shows us that none of us are as tolerant as we believe... I have seen it in myself, and it's a constant battle. Love how you weaved the classic movies into this...

  2. This is so well written, so engaging, and a total joy to read.

  3. A very heart-rending story... Fathers and daughters have such a special bond and it's especially difficult when things go wrong within it. An excellent take on the prompt as well.

  4. That fragile time between adolescence & young womanhood, is a fecund space for storytelling, As Civil Rights became law, & my own liberal views on race became even more expanded--as I dated several black women--I became frustrated
    by the reverse racism I encountered with their families & in their neighborhoods. I didn't expect open arms, but it was thick & nasty, & I was not brave enough to oppose it.

    1. Indeed, it was especially tough in those years, not much easier even in the 80's and 90's.
      When young we see no reason why we can't do anything.

  5. I love the way the classic movies are threaded through this. (I think bro's name is Jem, though).
    Great piece.

  6. Very effective use of third person narrative. Reminded me a bit of Lee's prequel which I really didn't much like. And yes, it was Jem.

    1. I have the book but have not read it yet. Thanks Victoria.

  7. Excellent narrative. It made me think of my own father and my relationship with him. Peace, Linda

  8. A fine extension of Ms. Lee's story. Well written.

  9. Love menDs
    Love wiNs
    Love spEnds


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