Columns / Culture

“It’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Story by Abigale Racine, Culture Editor
Photo courtesy of The Independent UK

 

I’ve come to terms that 2016 is not going to be a kind year to me. With passing of music legend David Bowie earlier this winter, and more recently Harper Lee, one of my all-time favorite authors, I feel the sudden urge to relocate to a reclusive cave to avoid further emotions.

If Barbra Streisand or Julie Andrews kicks the bucket next, I don’t know what I am going to do with myself.

Nelle Harper Lee, the infamously private novelist of To Kill a Mockingbird passed away over the weekend during the morning of Friday, February 19. I received a notification during class on Friday, and there were tears shed in public.

For anyone who knows me, I love Lee’s legendary, Pulitzer prize winning Mockingbird story, as well as her recently-released work Go Set a Watchman.

One of my fondest memories from high school was reading this book for my sophomore English class, as many others have as well. This book brought so much good into my life.

For a project assignment, my step-brother at the time had built and worn Jeb’s ham costume to school, complete with chicken wire and red-pink fabric. I had to assist him getting the damned thing into the car to drive to school, and then had to help him with it for the remainder of the day. If that isn’t brother/sister bonding, I don’t know what is.

What I really loved about reading this in school was the classroom conversations that it inspired. Considering that I grew up in a conservative small town, it was an experience seeing people consider the views of a minority for the first time. This tale inspires so many people to think outside themselves, and to witness inequality for what it truly is, told through the perspective of a six year old girl.

This is a coming of age story that details a crucial time in our nation’s history, and Lee told it in such a delicate, exquisite manner.

I idolized father figure, lawyer, and literary moral compass Atticus Finch just as much as his daughter Jean Louise (Scout) did. Even though more of his true character is developed in the 2015 novel Go Set a Watchman, I still adore Atticus.

The fact that he was portrayed so wonderfully by the timeless Hollywood talent Gregory Peck in the film adaptation of the book just make him all the more likeable.

Harper Lee was an incredibly gentle human being. Born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama, Lee strongly held onto her values of intimacy and privacy. After the bewildering success of Mockingbird, both the novel and the film of the same name, Lee remained publicly silent for 55 years.

According to TIME magazine, reportedly, Lee desired to be buried in the ground before news of her demise leaked, which almost happened.

She was childhood best friends with Truman Capote, also a critically acclaimed author and another one of my greatest influences as a writer. Capote’s fair-hair, daddy issues and his dramatic character inspired Lee to place the character Dill into Mockingbird.

These friends investigated the brutal murders of a Kansas family together, which lead toward Capote penning the game-changing true crime novel In Cold Blood. They were close friends until Capote’s death in 1984. Talk about #FriendshipGoals.

Lee represented a time that was still turbulent, but was much more respectful than today. May she gain the rest and quiet she so strongly desired to possess.

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