Wednesday, December 08, 2004

What text is a touchstone for you?

As an English major, I have an obvious love for text, one would have to or the very idea of being and English major would drive one crazy. One of my favorite works is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. My mother is from the South and this is also one of her favorite works. She would read this to my sister and I when putting us to bed when we were little. I never really understood the deeper meanings beyond the characters of Scout and Jim until we read it English class my sophomore year in High School. I have traveld to the South many times, and it is crazy to see and realize that racial discrimination still lingers today. In my mother's neighborhood the only black people are the gardeners, butlers, cooks, and the lawn crews. Just last year, my grandmother's country club welcomed their first black member-since 1937. How sad. And very different from Montana. This is off the subject yet even being in Atlanta a few summers ago, it seems as if the whole social class system is off within the South , there are simply the "haves" and the "have nots", I did not see a large middle class like we have in Montana-another reason why this state is so great.

Atticus Finch says this, "If you just learn a single trick Scout, you'll get along better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it." What a wonderful lesson! This can be applied not only to people, yet to texts as well. You have to get inside people, like texts, taking time and patience to understand them. Like texts, people too can be entertaining, boring, funny, satirical, sad, dramatic and happy. Another one of my favorite quotes from this novel," I remember when my daddy gave me that gun. He told me that I should never point it at anything in the house; and that he'd rather I'd shoot at tin cans in the backyard. But he said that sooner or later he supposed the temptation to go after birds would be too much, and that I could shoot all the blue jays I wanted-if I could hit'em; but to remember it was a sin to kill a mockingbird. Well, I reckon becuause mockingbirds don't do anything but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat peoples gardens, don't nest in the corncrib, they don't do one thing but just sing their hearts out for us." I just love this, I think it is so sweet and important to recognize the simplicities and song which nature offers.

This text is a touchstone for me, beacuase it was the first text I read which dealt with social, race, and family issues. I was angerd by this text, wanting justice for Tom Robinson, wanting him to be free! Reading this text is the first time I felt truley alive within the words, making it an important touchstone for me. I feel as though this novel will remian a classic throughout the future because society will always have a need for heros, and it this text Atticus Finch is the hero, defending a black man in the deep south in the early 40's believing that cheating a black man is ten times worse than cheating a white man. Humanity will always call for integrity, character and truth and it is this novel which depicts all three beautifully.


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