To Kill a Mockingbird Banned, Again

Multiple copies of To Kill a Mockingbird show how much I value this book.

Yet another school district has banned To Kill a Mockingbird. Because the book makes some people uncomfortable.

Id-E-ots!

The books is supposed to make readers uncomfortable.

The book strikes at racial prejudice and injustice toward Blacks, hitting a bull’s-eye only the mindless can miss.

Like Mark Twain’s classic Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird serves as a time capsule, capturing and exposing a period in American history when a majority of people in the South hid behind racial fear and bigotry.

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Dirty Dancing and Giant Revisited: Story Lines about Change

Dirty Dancing: A frame for story context, 1987

Saturday night I watched Dirty Dancing. Again.

ZAP! Hooked. In a time machine, I sat transported and transfixed.

From the vantage point of 30 years after Dirty Dancing opened in theaters, I see a lot to admire about this film.

In 1987, when Dirty Dancing made cultural shock waves, I did not watch. Or let my children see it either. Years later, I learned that my teenage daughter saw the video at a friend’s house.

Whatever.

While the movie does portray some dirty dancing, as well as admit some explicit consequences of sexual activity, dancing provides a frame for story context.

The story unfolding exposes prejudice, hypocrisy and bigotry.

The dictionary defines bigotry as the stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.

The movie is about how people can have one set of standards, values and professed ideals for themselves and yet apply another standard to those who are not like them.

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“The Pursuit of Goals of the Unruly Ego”

Jane Austen’s classic novel Emma had a birthday; she turned 200 a year ago.

A writer for Britain’s The Guardian described the original novel:

Its heroine is a self-deluded young woman with the leisure and power to meddle in the lives of her neighbours. The narrative was radically experimental because it was designed to share her delusions. The novel bent narration through the distorting lens of its protagonist’s miemma-book-covernd.

Emma, has undergone updating by author Alexander McCall Smith. A deliciously clever reincarnation of that “self-deluded young woman” inhabits the pages of this modern retelling.

While I haven’t compared the two books side-by-side, I will say that in both cases the story has a moral.

Almost an imperative, since [SPOILER ALERT] the novel ends with these words:  “You do it too.”

Almost biblical, the ending sets readers on a mission to recognize in themselves the impulse to control other people and manage situations, trying to make improvements in other people’s lives.

And like Emma, we who would do likewise would also expect both to congratulate ourselves for our successes and to receive thanks from those who benefit from our meddling.

Sharing Emma’s delusions

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Harper Lee and Go Set a Watchman sets up controversy

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If ever a novel demonstrated the ability of its author to create characters that leave the page and take on a life of their own, To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960did just that. Hence, the recently released follow-up novel, Go Set a Watchman, arrives fraught with expectations about the lives of Scout and Atticus.

When last we saw these iconic characters they had settled in an idyllic epilogue to the story that transpired over 3 summers in tiny Maycomb, AL during the Depression.

Atticus stood for truth and justice even when the legal system failed. The children got Boo to come out. Sheltered by their loving father, Scout and Jem grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with readers everywhere.

Readers can still imagine Scout tucked in her bed, Atticus reading to her––even though her teacher disapproves.

Now here comes a Watchman

In Watchman, Scout returns to Maycomb, her fifth visit home since living in New York.

The reader watches Jean Louise’s images from her childhood shattered by what she sees mirrored and distorted in the life of her beloved father. Atticus has become a Southern racist. Read more