Posts Tagged ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’


To Kill A Mockingbird has been my favorite fiction title since before I read it in middle school. I saw the movie when it came out in 1962, although I’m not sure of the exact date. I know that I was very close to Scout’s age in the novel when I saw it on the big screen. It has had an influence on me since then. It has especially had an influence on my writing. For those of you who have not followed this blog or any of my previous blogs, much of my writing is about my childhood and, most often, told through the eyes of the child that I was at the time. Like Scout. I didn’t do it intentionally. It is just the way it came. It is what fascinates me, how life and the world slowly reveals itself to the innocent child and how that child perceives this new knowledge and what they might not understand.

It surprises me, although it shouldn’t, that To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, remains one of the most often banned and challenged books in this country. It has been challenged and removed from many school reading lists. Some reasons include the profanity in the novel, although it is not “misused” or gratuitously used. It has also been challenged because of the rape case which is highlighted in the novel. There are a lot of reasons cited for the challenges and the banning but when it comes down to it, I think it is because it has made many people and many societies uncomfortable in the portrayal of social and legal injustice of the classes and of the races. Is this something we should be sheltering students from? Not in my book. To me, we need to make our young people aware of these injustices. Without awareness, things will never be questions; things will never change.

What do you think? Is one of your favorite books on the Frequently Challenged Books list? Tell us about that book. I’m betting more than one of your favorites is on those lists.


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I awoke in the predawn hours today to hear the news on TV…Harper Lee had died at the age of 89. That’s a good age. It was said that she had been deaf and blind for at least the last five years. It was a matter of time. Hopefully, now no one will take advantage of her again. She wrote my all-time favorite novel. Next to To Kill A Mockingbird, nothing stands any here as good. If I had been given the choice to read only one book my entire life, it would be To Kill A Mockingbird. It is that good.

It’s a day to think about her and her Pulitzer Prize winning novel, To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s a time to celebrate her work and the mark she has left on every person that has ever read her book. It’s a day to ask some questions. Why didn’t she ever write another novel? How close to autobiographical elements in her life were the events in the novel? What about Go Set A Watchman? Which Atticus was the true one? Does GSAW invalidate TKAM?

I won’t try to answer all of those questions here. I have my opinions and I’ve read a lot about her life and those around her, both in her childhood years and in her adulthood. As far as Go Set A Watchman, my worry is that it will influence people, especially schools, to not read To Kill A Mockingbird. That would be a crime, at least in my opinion. I will say that I’ve read that she was so traumatized by all of the publicity and criticism she got after TKAM that she didn’t ever want to put herself through that again.

I never expected any sort of success with Mockingbird. I was hoping for a quick and merciful death at the hands of the reviewers but, at the same time, I sort of hoped someone would like it enough to give me encouragement. Public encouragement. I hoped for a little, as I said, but I got rather a whole lot, and in some ways this was just about as frightening as the quick, merciful death I’d expected.— Harper Lee, quoted in Newquist, 1964

I’ve also read that she was a perfectionist and had begun a couple of novels, including at least one non fiction book but put never finished them any of them because she was unhappy with her writing. That sounds like a perfectionist to me; like a writer, always second guessing herself.

Tonight, I will stream To Kill A Mockingbird and perhaps I will begin re-reading it and Go Set A Watchman. And I will think of that timid, talented woman that kept so many words inside of her…so many words that we would all love to have read. I will celebrate that she lived and wrote and left us Scout and Atticus and all those other people of Maycomb.

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It’s one of my favorite movies.  Probably my number 2 all-time favorite movie.  And it is my number 1 favorite book.  I’ve read the book at least 20 times.    I have seen the movie over 100 times.  I saw it on the big screen in 1963.  I have seen it on reel to reel (in school) several times.  I have seen it on TV many, many times.  I owned it on VHS.  I own it on DVD.  And that’s why, when I heard it was finally being released on blu-ray, I pre-ordered my copy and have been waiting anxiously for the release date.  If I owned a calendar, I would have marked off the days til the January 31 release date.  The day before the release date I got my tracking number from amazon.com.  I was so excited.  My TKAM 50th anniversary commemorative edition on blu ray was on it’s way!  I tracked it every step of the way from Seattle til it arrived to me here in Portland the next day.

When I arrived, I ripped the package open and stuck it in my player and settled in to watch it.  The picture is clean and crisp and it looks soooo good!  I was loving it for about the first twenty minutes.  Then as Scout and Jem ran out the back door to their first day of school, I smiled to myself thinking about the scene that was coming up, the one with Scout in the classroom where the teacher scolds her and says that Atticus is teaching her to read wrong.  Then the teacher tries to give a little boy lunch money when she discovers that he has no lunch and no lunch money and Scout volunteers that the family would never take money because they’re too proud to accept charity and the teacher scolds her.  But the next scene wasn’t that scene.  It was a scene with Scout running out of the school into the playground and fist fighting with a little boy!  That immediately caught my attention.  What the heck had happened to that scene?  I replayed it.  Nothing.  I put in the DVD copy that I got with the blu ray.  It wasn’t there.  I put my old DVD version in and it wasn’t there.  I went online to see if there were reports of a missing scene.  Nothing.  I researched to find reference to the “teacher scene”.  Nothing.

The only reference to the teacher in the movie was a Spark Notes article saying that one of the differences between the novel and the movie is that the teacher never appears in the movie and she does in the book.  What?  Really? No way!  I distinctly remember seeing the scene.  I can see it playing in my memory right now.  I can see the confused look on Scout’s face when the teacher says Atticus is teaching her wrong and I can see her little hand go up as she blurts out that the boy’s family would never accept money.  I can see it in my mind.  But according to what I can find online, that scene never existed.  I can’t believe it.

I’ve been so upset about it that I haven’t been able to replay the blu ray.  I don’t know if I will ever be able to watch the movie with the same zeal that I had for it.  I was ready to contact Universal Studios and yell at them for deleting that scene.  I was ready to watch the movie with a fine tooth comb to see if there were any other missing scenes.  I was not only upset but truly disappointed.  I still am. Why hadn’t I noticed it before now?  The only thing I can think of is that I haven’t watched it alone.  It has always been with a school group or my kids or friends.  There has always been at least one other person in the room with me when I’ve watched it.  When that happens, I don’t think we pay close attention to what is going on.  I know I don’t.  That’s what I’m thinking.

What I think may very possibly have happened is that the scene existed on the original print of the movie.  The one that played on the big screen and the one I saw at school a number of times and most likely, on television at some point.  Somewhere along the line, that scene was lost and now, there appears to not be a trace of it.  The Sparks Notes articles are written fairly recently, most likely by someone that never saw the original movie.   Same for the Wikipedia article.  And the imdb.com listing.

Either that or I have read the book so many times and it has become so vivid to me that I imagined it?  I don’t think that’s the case.

I truly think it was in the original print of the movie.

I don’t know.  Has anyone else out there seen the original print?  Does anyone else remember seeing that scene?

Am I totally bonkers?


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