Friday, July 9, 2010

Listen to the Mockingbird

Over the past few days I have been pacing through the downstairs rooms of my house reading aloud from To Kill a Mockingbird. My only listeners have been my dogs. You see, I am rehearsing for my 15 minutes of fame. As part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the publication of Harper Lee's novel, a reading marathon begins at 9:00 A.M. CDT in Monroeville, Alabama in the Monroe County Courthouse. The second day will be Saturday beginning at 9:00 A.M. until the entire book is completed. Though this is just one of many such marathons throughout the country this weekend, it is the one in the hometown of Miss Nelle Harper Lee and the fictional Maycomb. My actual fifteen minutes begins at 2:30 CDT. I have tried to gauge the pages I will read. As it is not an exact science, I have decided to concentrate on chapters ten though thirteen and just hope that I am close. Yes, I have been immersed in the book and the film and numerous articles. I have always been fascinated by the beautiful and melancholy opening scene as a child's hands open a cigar box of gathered treasures accompanied by the tender and nostalgic music of Elmer Bernstein . And yes, I have always been proud of the two children from my county who gave life to Jem and Scout Finch: Phillip Alford and Mary
Badham. (Word has it that Mary may be reading, too!)

"One-shot Finch"
In Chapter Ten, Scout complains that Atticus just can't do anything. When a rabid dog is seen walking down the street, Atticus is summoned from the courthouse by Calpurnia. The two children are stunned to discover that their father is quite a marksman.

Jem's wide eyed wonder at his father... captured by Phillip Alford

Mary Badham's favorite scene with Atticus-- the name she used even for her offscreen and lifelong friendship with Gregory Peck.

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Of the many articles, special features, and critiques and facts about the novel and the film that I have studied this week, one offers a truly fresh perspective. In the summer 2010 publication of Alabama Heritage, (click to read entire article) Auburn University historian and professor, Dr. Wayne Flint concluded his six page article "Universal Values: The Enduring Legacy of To Kill a Mockingbird" with his customary wisdom and insight that have made him famous in this neck of the woods:
"In one of those delicious ironies for which Alabama is reknowned, a novel written by a white woman from Monroeville, on the edge of the state's Black Belt has become the primary literary instrument worldwide for teaching values of racial justice and tolerance for people different from oursleves, and the necessity for moral courage in the face of community prejudice and ostracism. Inside the pages of the book, readers may discover not only a New South but perhaps even a new humanity."

14 comments:

Cait O'Connor said...

Pamela Terry and Edward's blog is about this very same book/film. (link on my page).

alaine@éclectique said...

All the best with your reading; sounds like it will be fun!

Derrick said...

May I please have your autograph?! Are you doing voices and everything? Hopefully we will get to hear a recording in due course? Have a great time.

The Clever Pup said...

Very cool.

My mother read this book when she was recuperating from my (c-section) birth in 1962.

Suz said...

would love to hear you read!
how marvelous what an event

willow said...

I must watch this again in commemoration! Love-love-love it.

FireLight, Listen to the Mockingbird is a song that for odd reasons is near and dear to my heart. Here's a post explaining...

http://willowmanor.blogspot.com/2010/05/mocking-bird.html

FireLight said...

Derrick, yes, I can do voices of children, especially Southern children! To be fair, you must know I have read this and other books, notably A CHRISTMAS CAROL, to many groups of students, to my own children, and yes...to my dogs just because I enjoy it. It is my personal belief that having someone to read to ... or to read to you... is one of life's great luxuries. It is a custom which seems to be fast disappearing in this century. I want to start a small book club devoted to reading aloud to to others. Ideas and suggestions welcome.
More on the actual reading will be in my next post!

willow said...

Re: your comment....

I am in love with Shelby Foote, God rest his sweet soul!!

Cait O'Connor said...

Of course you can use my river pic as a desktop page, I am honoured that you want to. I love your header pic on this site.

Foxglove Spires said...

Thank you FireLight for visiting my blog and the lovely comments.

I have enjoyed reading through your blogs, it must be marvellous to be part of the 50th anniversary celebrations.

I read to my daughter every day, she would love me to read for hours if we could. I hope it will be it a family tradition my mother always read to us and so down the generations hopefully it will flow.

Electricwitch said...

I am so embarassed that I had never read this book I just purchased it to coincide with the 50th anniversary. Look forward to finally getting round to reading it.

Betsy said...

How very wonderful! I'd love to sit in that courthouse and listen as the book is read aloud. I may just have to read it again myself...it's been decades! :)

The Silver Fox said...

Great book, so great that even Hollywood "had" to do it justice. I, too, participated in a mass reading of another novel, Melville's Moby-Dick. And I'm sure you're aware that Gregory Peck played the lead in that story's 1956 filmed version. The man was a "class act" all around. (I just posted on my blog about something relating to the whale's tale, and I link to another article of mine on the same subject in that post. Feel free to check it -- or them -- out!)

~T~ said...

Reading aloud is a fun tradition in our family. We read each Harry Potter book out loud, slowly, one chapter at a time, savoring the suspense and, sometimes, choking up with laughter. It added an extra dimension to the story. Lately we've saved our reading for road trips, which have been few and far between. I guess we need another book that is compelling, and worth the patience.

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat