Saturday, January 3, 2015

To Kill A Mockingbird

In my family, we occasionally play the game Identify-Books-You-Must-Read-To- Be-A-Functioning-Adult. All my siblings have favorites.  Lord of the Rings, Les Miserables, various religious tomes, you know, the usual.

“It was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, 
not about what you were interested in.”  

So, in the familial insanity tradition, I had to look up some trivia.

“Atticus told me to delete the adjectives 
and I'd have the facts.” 

Best selling authors:
1st William Shakespeare 2-4.5 billion
2nd Agatha Christie 2-4 billion
3rd Barbara Cartland .5 -1 billion
4th Danielle Steele .5-1 billion

“Ladies in bunches 
always filled me with vague apprehension 
and a firm desire to be elsewhere.”

Seriously? Danielle Steele?

“Nothing is more deadly than a deserted, waiting street.”

Best selling books:
1st The Bible
2nd The Qur’an
3rd The Communist Manifesto
4th Quotations from Chairman Mao

“Folks don't like to have someone around knowin' more than they do. 
It aggravates them . . . 
When they don't want to learn there's nothing you can do 
but keep your mouth shut 
or talk their language.”

I wouldn’t have thought of this list, but considering global purchasing and communist rule, it makes sense.

“Before Jem looks at anyone else he looks at me, 
and I’ve tried to live so I can look squarely back at him.” 

Back to the family literary game.

My nephew is going on a Mormon mission and was asking for recommendations on books before he left. I sent him three and one was To Kill a Mockingbird. (Want to guess the other two?)

In 2010, the book hit a 50-year anniversary and broke the top 50 best sellers with 40 million copies. Being only 5 years late for that event and being one of my favorites 

. . . you see where I’m going right? 
To Kill a Mockingbird trivia coming up:

Nelle Harper Lee wrote only one book, as did Boris Pasternak (Dr. Zhivago), Margaret Mitchell (Gone With the Wind), Emily Bronte (Wuthering Heights) and Anna Sewell (Black Beauty).

“I shall never marry, Atticus." 
"I might have children.”

She was named Nelle for her grandmother Ellen Finch. (Ellen spelled backwards.)

“Children are children, 
but they can spot an evasion faster than adults.”

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." A quote from Lamb's essay The Old Benchers of the Inner Temple, the preface of To Kill a Mockingbird. 

“Well I’m going to be a new kind of clown. 
I’m going to stand in the middle of the ring and laugh at all the folks.”

Harper Lee was childhood friends with Truman Capote (In Cold Blood) and based the character Dill on Capote. 

She was originally going to go to law school in the south but instead moved to New York to live by Capote. She lived with friends who, as a Christmas gift, supported her for a year while she wrote.

Her book was influenced by her father, who was an attorney in the south, and by the Scottsboro Boys, nine young black men lynched after being accused of raping two white girls.

“I came to the conclusion that people were just peculiar, 
withdrew from them, 
and never thought about them until I was forced to.”

Harper became more secluded as she got older. “[I]f you know Boo, you know why I’m not doing an interview”.

Harper Lee won the 1960 Pulitzer Prize for To Kill A Mockingbird and in 2007 Harper Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom of the United States for her contribution to literature.

Hollywood studios were not interested in the film rights because the story lacked action, a love story and the villain doesn’t get his comeuppance.

“You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. 

To Kill A Mockingbird is Clark Kent’s favorite movie.

“It was time like now, 
when I thought my father, 
who hated guns had had never been to any wars, 
was the bravest man who ever lived.”

Gregory Peck won his first and only Academy Award in 1963 for his role as Atticus Finch. After being offered the part of Atticus Finch, Gregory Peck read Harper Lee’s novel in one sitting and called Robert Mulligan immediately after to say that he would play the part.

The watch used in the film was a prop, but Harper Lee gave Gregory Peck her father's watch after the film was completed because he reminded her so much of him.

“This time we aren’t fighting the Yankees, 
we’re fighting our friends. 
But remember this, 
no matter how bitter things get, 
they’re still our friends and this is still our home.”

The courtroom is a recreation of the interior of the Monroe County Courthouse in Monroeville, Alabama. 

“I was born good but had grown progressively worse every year.” 
Gregory Peck’s grandson, Harper Peck Voll, is named after Harper Lee.

"If there’s just one kind of folks, 
why can’t they get along with each other? 
If they’re all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? 
. . . I think I’m beginning to understand 
why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time 
. . . it’s because he wants to stay inside.”

Robert Duvall made his debut playing the character Boo Radley. He spent six weeks out of the sun so he would look the part.  

“We're paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. 
We trust him to do right. 
It's that simple.”

Brock Peter, the actor who played Tom Robinson, began to cry while acting in the testifying scene. They had to keep reshooting because Peck starting crying whenever he looked at Brock. They became close friends and Brock delivered Peck's eulogy.

“I swear, Scout, 
sometimes you act so much like a girl its mortifyin”

Mary Badham, who played Scout, had no previous film experience. She was 10 years old when she was nominated for an Oscar.

In 1966, a Virginia school board removed all copies of To Kill a Mockingbird, citing the book as “immoral."

“There are just some kind of men…
who’re so busy worrying about the next world 
they’ve never learned to live in this one.”

Lee responded, “Recently I have received echoes down this way of the Hanover County School Board’s activities, and what I’ve heard makes me wonder if any of its members can read.” 

“Bad language is a stage all children go through, 
and it dies with time 
when they learn they're not attracting attention with it.”

She enclosed “a small contribution … that I hope will be used to enroll the Hanover County School Board in any first grade of its choice.”  

To Kill a Mockingbird consistently ranks near the top of the American Library Association's list of 100 most frequently banned books. The reasons? 

“They've done it before 
and they'll do it again 
and when they do it -- 
seems that only the children weep.”

The portrayal of conflict between children and their elders; profanity and questionable language; ungrammatical speech by characters; depictions of violence; references to sex; negative statements about authority; the lack of portrayal of the family unit as the basis of American life; and references to the super- natural and witchcraft.

“Before I can live with other folks 
I’ve got to live with myself.”

Fortunately, there are some of us who acknowledge the ungrammatical speech, depictions of violence, a single parent, references to sex, negative statements about authority and offensive language 

“It’s never an insult to be called 
what somebody thinks is a bad name. 
It just shows you how poor that person is, 
it doesn’t hurt you.”

AND that, my intelligent friends, 


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