Admittedly, the first-person narration makes it almost impossible for Lee to present the scene of Tom’s death more fully, or to articulate the kind of rage, grief, and despair that an adult might feel at such a time.The reader sees everything through Scout’s eyes, and she is only eight years old at the end of the book.
As for Atticus Finch, he is an American archetype, a just man who by sheer force of character (and with a little help from his eight-year-old daughter) can stare down a lynch mob.
The qualities that he encourages in his children—fairness, integrity, responsibility, empathy—are bedrock American virtues.
Funny, happy, and written with unspectacular precision.” In my eyes, that was exactly what was wrong with it.
To an 18-year-old under the spell of the South, the book seemed like a sugarcoated myth.
Nuggets of unimpeachable wisdom drop regularly from his lips, making nearly every occasion a teaching moment.
“Atticus speaks in snatches of dialogue,” said Allen Barra in a 2010 essay in is precisely this ability to tap into an American civic religion.Here we find picket fences, tire swings, and nosy neighbor ladies rocking on their porches.Most of the adult characters are appealing, and they are familiar Southern types: the devoted and dignified black maid, the good country people, the ladies of the Missionary Society. For more than 50 years I have felt slightly churlish for not liking the book as much as most Alabamians, and most Americans, did and do.The story of Scout, Boo Radley, and the noble, crusading Atticus might have started as a novel, but it has long since moved up into a more elevated category—cultural touchstone, American classic, national treasure. My problem with this book dates back to 1961, when I had a summer job in an oil field in south Alabama, not far from Monroeville, the small town that was in the first flush of its reputation as the home of Harper Lee and the setting for My job consisted mostly of clearing brush, but some nights I was stationed at a pump house where I had to read the gauges once an hour; the rest of the time I kept myself awake by reading Southern writers. Keep in mind that, 50-plus years ago, this label , now little more than a marketing category, was charged with electricity.He has never taken Bob Ewell seriously, even though Ewell—the father of the alleged rape victim—spits in his face and threatens to kill his children.By the standards of contemporary parents, Atticus is negligent to the point of culpability; he lets Scout and Jem roam freely, day and night.On Halloween night, Ewell does attack them with intent to murder, but Boo Radley—the neighbor who seemed so terrifying—comes to their rescue, and Ewell is the one who ends up dead.Boo might be peculiar, but he’s been watching over these children.“Our courts have their faults, as does any human institution,” he says to the jury composed entirely of white men, “but in this country our courts are the great levelers, and in our courts all men are created equal.” In a Faulkner novel, Atticus might have been a brooding, eloquent, Hamlet-like character, his mind chaotic with an awareness of historical injustice and the psychic scars inflicted by centuries of racism.In Lee’s novel, Atticus is measured and restrained, betraying his passion only in his closing argument in Tom’s defense. He knows that his actions don’t always sit well with his fellow citizens, and when Scout asks him about a certain insult, he replies: “Scout,” said Atticus, “nigger-lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything—like snot-nose. Ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody’s favoring negroes over and above themselves.