To Kill a Mockingbird and Temporary Friendships

As promised, I finished To Kill a Mockingbird.  I liked it well enough, although it’s another example of how I wish I hadn’t known so much about it before reading it, since that’s why I spent the first eight chapters wondering when the story would start.  I thought tying the ending directly to the opening sentence was genius.  However, instead of talking about the book a whole lot, I’m going to use this as an excuse to discuss relationships.

Without ever being seen, Arthur Radley (or Boo, as you may remember him) proves himself a friend to Scout and Jem.  They finally, literally meet when he performs the ultimate act of friendship by saving their lives.  And then, Scout says, she never sees him again.

I have one friend from middle school I see on a regular basis and one from high school.  I met my boyfriend when I was 15 and we are still together.  That being said, there are many people who I thought would be permanent fixtures in my life who aren’t.  And, most importantly, I think that’s absolutely ok.

I am a different person now than I was in middle school and high school and college.  The people I still speak to have also grown and changed.  We were compatible then and we are compatible now.  Other people grew in different ways and maybe who we are now would not mesh well.

The thing we know from the tense of the book is that the whole story is Scout looking back on the events of those few years.  And even though she never saw Arthur Radley again, she’s still grateful for the relationship they did have.

So to you who were my very good friends but haven’t seen me in a while, I want you to know that I am so grateful for the time you were in my life.  I hope you are still doing well.  I appreciate all the ways you supported and challenged me and I wouldn’t be who I am now without that time with you.  And even if I never see you again, I will always think fondly of you.  In the future, when I’m showing my kids old photographs, they will know your name and how important you were to me.

There are a lot of things online about figuring out who is always going to be your friend and who never was, but I disagree with that.  I think that just because a friendship is good doesn’t mean it will last through every stage of your life.  And that doesn’t diminish the goodness or significance of it.

That being said, I now hate when people use “Boo Radley” as an insult, because he was a loner but he was a very kind man who was very good to Scout and Jem.  And I liked how the book treated him as such: misunderstood, but kind.

My most favorite thing about this book:  Atticus.  I finally see why everyone loves him so much.

My least favorite thing about this book: I always hate stories about false rape accusations because they’re so rare and I feel like it hurts actual victims.  I also hated that Mayella had to go back to her obviously abusive father.

Who I would most like to recommend this book to: Umm…I don’t know.  Anyone who uses Boo Radley as an insult, maybe.  I’ll throw the book at them and tell them to read it.  Otherwise, while good, I’m not sure it has a specific audience or even relevance now except to show a window into a certain time period.  Even that could be detrimental to current race discussions because people may think, “See how far we’ve come?” and not realize how far we’ve still got to go.

Where this book sits on my bookshelf:  After Lady Chatterley’s Lover and before Spy X: The Code.

July Reader-Voted Project poll is now on!

Categories: Book Club Thursday | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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