50th Anniversary of “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the publication of the novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee.   The novel tells the story of Tom Robinson, a black man who is falsely accused of raping a white woman.  What makes the story so engaging is that it is told from the perspective of a child – Jean Louise Finch, or “Scout,” as she’s known.   The story is set in the depression-era fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama was based on Lee’s actual hometown of Monroeville, Alabama.

I read this novel as a kid and it had a profound effect on me.  In fact, for years I had two dogs named for characters in the book:  “Scout” and “Boo.”   And, when I once toyed with the idea of collecting data on white supremacist groups by signing up for their mailing lists (pre-Internet days, and an idea I later abandoned), I used the alias “Jean Louise Finch.”

(In the movie version, Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, Brock Peters as Tom Robinson)

The key figure in the novel is Atticus Finch, often heralded as a kind of white, southern civil rights hero,  but that view has recently been called into question.

What’s your memory of this book? Have you  ever read it? Or, re-read it recently.  Do you think that Atticus Finch was a hero?  Or, was he as much a part of the problem with the Jim Crow south as the lynch mob?