Sunday, August 19, 2018
To Kill a Mockingbird and Persuasion
Posted by JaneGS
In July, I reread another favorite, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. It's been probably ten years or more since my last reread of this classic American novel, and enough time has passed that I found details fresh although the arc of the story itself is burned into my psyche.
This time I found myself focused on Scout's brother, Jim, and saw the novel as his coming of age story. Scout as the narrator is puzzled by how Jim changes in the course of the novel, but we can see his struggles through her eyes and understand what she as a seven-year old can only be frustrated by.
I really see Jim as an Atticus in training--torn between love for his hometown and love for the human race, believing that justice will prevail. Jim as an adolescent rages when justice is thwarted, and hasn't yet gained the maturity of Atticus who works for justice when he knows it is a lost cause.
I hadn't planned on writing in this post about my other reread this summer, Persuasion, by Jane Austen, which I reread on my flight home from France, but thinking about Atticus reminded me of Anne's great speech at the end of Persuasion, which persuades Frederick Wentworth to finally reach out to her. She says: "All the privilege I claim for my own sex (it is not a very enviable one: you need not covet it), is that of loving longest, when existence or when hope is gone!"
Atticus works for justice when there is no hope; Anne continues to love when there is no hope.
Anne's faithfulness is rewarded by her second bloom and second chance to marry the one man she loves; Atticus's faithfulness is rewarded by having a son like Jim who we know will carry the torch once it has been passed to him by his father.
Both novels fulfill two of the categories in this year's Back to the Classics Challenge - a reread of a favorite and a classic by a woman author. So, I'll put To Kill a Mockingbird in the woman author category, and Persuasion in the reread category. Two more classics to go to complete the challenge - title with a color in it and an author that's new to me.