I re-read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird late last year, because I’d agreed to beta-read a Yuletide fanfic story based on it. I ended up more cheerleading the resulting story than anything, but I was glad of the opportunity to revisit a book I’d not read since high school.
It’s an incredibly tense book and the narrative voice is great. I had completely failed to remember (or, more likely, recognize) how central is Scout’s changing conceptions of femininity and relationships with women. I had also failed to recognize, because I neither had the tools to do so nor was given them in school, the way that its portrayal of racism is incredibly limited and, as a result, misleading and harmful.
Which is half of the reason I’m writing about it tonight, here past midnight when I should be asleep. The other half is that despite knowing what happens, somehow I got hopeful at a certain point in the book as I was swept along, and it was like running into a brick wall when my hopes were dashed. And I think the truest demonstration of Mockingbird‘s limitations is that I feel the same kind of crushing sadness in response to today’s news (well, yesterday’s, now) as I did in reading the book. Only, of course, much worse.
Nb.: I do not have the emotional resources to engage in education in the comments; please consult your search engine of choice if you feel the need.