To kill a mockingbird

By Alex P. Vidal

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I STRONGLY recommend To Kill a Mockingbird to all aspiring lawyers, social scientists, politicians, and journalists.

Since the concept of justice is presented in this novel written by Harper Lee as an antidote to racial prejudice, we found many parallels in the book that reflect some realities in society we live in.

There’s the story of Atticus, described as a strongly principled, liberal lawyer who defends a wrongly accused black man, representing a role model for moral and legal justice.

In his explanation to Scout, Atticus stressed that while he believed the American justice system to be without prejudice, the individuals who sit on the jury often harbor bias, which can taint the workings of the system.

Atticus retained his faith in the system throughout the majority of the novel, but he ultimately lost in his legal defense of Tom.

Atticus expressed a certain disillusionment as a result of this experience when he agreed to conceal Boo’s culpability in the killing of Ewell, recognizing that Boo would be stereotyped by his peers, at the end of the book.

Atticus decided to act based on his own principles of justice in the end, rather than rely on a legal system that may be fallible.

The novel, a Pulitzer Prize winner, has remained enormously popular since its publication in 1960.

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It also can be read as a coming-of-age story featuring a young girl growing up in the South of America and experiencing moral awakenings.

The novel demonstrated the now-adult narrator’s hindsight perspective on the growth of her identity and outlook on life, as narrated from Scout’s point-of-view.

The tomboyish Scout challenged the forces attempting to socialize her into a prescribed gender role as a Southern lady, in developing a more mature sensibility.

Aunt Alexandra tried to subtly and not-so subtly push Scout into a traditional gender role that often ran counter to her father’s values and her own natural inclinations.

As events around the trial became ugly, however, Scout realized the value of some of the traditions Alexandra was trying to show her and decided she, too, could be a “lady.”

The novel also explored themes of heroism and the idea of role models as well.

Lee has stated that the novel was essentially a long love letter to her father, whom she idolized as a man with deeply held moral convictions.

Atticus was clearly the hero of the novel, and functioned as a role model for his children. The children regarded their father as weak and ineffective because he did not conform to several conventional standards of Southern masculinity.

They eventually realized that Atticus possessed not only skill with a rifle, but also moral courage, intelligence, and humor, and they came to regard him as a hero in his own right.

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BUY THIS; KEEP THIS BOOK. If you are a lover of history and philosophy and happens to see From Socrates to Sarte: the Philosophic Quest in any bookstore, I strongly recommend this book written by Thelma Zeno Lavine (1915–2011).

I left my copy of this book in the Philippines and I’m itching to read this great book again. A friend from California, Malou Gil, sent me a new copy in my New York address when she learned I was enamored with this book.

I guarantee you will also like this book where it narrates that Aristotle “committed suicide” when he learned that his pupil, Alexander the Great, has died.

It was also in this book where I learned that Aristotle was originally from Stagira, an ancient Yugoslavian city, where he went back and died after Alexander’s death.

So Aristotle, a student of Plato, wasn’t from Greece? Hmmm Interesting.

The book also discusses Western philosophers in terms of the historical and intellectual environment which influenced them, and it connects their lasting ideas to the public and private choices we face today.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)

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