Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Most people are... when you get to know them"

I believe reading a great story more than once spoils its purpose. Whatever meaning it was to convey is complete in its first perusal. Later readings only lead to hardening of ideologies or discovery of flaws that spoil the original joy of reading it. I could never get around to reading "To kill a mockingbird" a second time for exactly the same reason. I wouldn't want to change any of the first impressions that I had of the book.

Yeah, some people would find it boring because of the lack of an invincible hero who stands tall silhouetted against the skyline after vanquishing all of his hopelessly fake adversaries (Oh Supreme Being, if there is any up there in the skies, please help me get rid of this unrelenting hatred I have for "The Fountainhead". Please, please! I sure as hell can't do it by myself). Others would claim that it is too clean and sanitised a version of life to be considered of real literary quality. After all when you are writing through the eyes of a little girl, you could hardly touch upon the more mature or if I may say so cruder topics that go a long way in making a conventional 'great' book great! I guess that's what it makes it so distinctive. It has the most serious of thoughts perfectly put out in the most innocent and humorous of all things, a child's mind.

What is the story about? It's about racism, it's about tolerance or the lack of it, it's about how society tends to demonize certain harmless individuals just because they are not part of the regular run, and most importantly it's how about how tough it is to stand by your moral convictions with a wry smile. Atticus Finch probably knows long before the event that he will not be successful in his endeavours. But he knows that it is the only way to go, because it is the right way. Patience, it seems, is the staff of the good man and the conscience his backbone. Finch is not a person with the most dazzling talents, but he is a good man and that's all that should be required of any person.

And then there is my favourite line of the book. When little Scout confides to her father that Boo Radley was a really nice man as opposed to the blood thirsty image that she and her friends had imagined for the recluse, Atticus in his usual, calm manner tells his daughter, "Most people are... when you get to know them."

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