This comes much much later than I planned but here it is – my own personal weekly A to Z series. This year in April I signed up for the A to Z Challenge with the topic ‘Fascinating characters from books we love’. However I bowed out for fear of not doing justice to the characters under the pressure of daily posting.
Starting today I hope I can bring out a well-loved character each week. Endearing, annoying, good or evil the one thing they’ll have in common will be their ability to enthrall and entertain. They’re the ones that outlived the books.
I begin with the letter A and I couldn’t have found a better person to kick it off with than my favourite man Atticus Finch – the gentleman, the lawyer, the father from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. It couldn’t have been better timed either since Harper Lee’s sequel ‘Go Set a Watchman’ went on sale yesterday, 20 years after her first and only book. To read reactions to her new release you can go here. Harper Lee modeled Atticus Finch on her own father and went on to face plenty of flak for that. I blogged about it earlier at my other blog.
Here are five reasons why I love Atticus Finch
1. He’s the best go-to dad
He’s the kind of father you could ask almost anything and get a satisfactory answer. He doesn’t patronise or pamper. He imparts simple everyday values in the most uncomplicated manner. Look at how he explains empathy to his children. “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Isn’t that brilliant?
2. He is a man with a conscience
.. an active one that he considers very important. Says he, “The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” He goes ahead and takes up the case of a black man at the risk of being ostracised and in the face of threats to his children’s lives for as he says, “Before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself.”
3. He’s brave
Bravery in everyday life is a very underrated concept and that’s what Atticus had. He doesn’t wear his courage like a badge. Scout, his ten-year old daughter, comes to feel the same when later in the book she says. “It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.”
4. He’s modest beyond reason
He is always falling short on his kids’ admiration scale yet he never defends himself. Scout feels his inadequacies most strongly. ‘He cannot tackle a football, doesn’t drive a dump truck and was practically blind in one eye’. She’s desperate to find a redeeming factor in her dad. Then one day he picks up a gun, albeit reluctantly, and in a single shot takes down a mad dog, to her complete awe and delight. Miss Maudie, their neighbour, explains, “..Because he was a crack shot he realised God had given him an advantage over most living things….. he decided he wouldn’t shoot till he had to,..”. Hello! Who does that?
5. He is a perfect gentleman
…a gentleman in a true blue, old-fashioned understated way. He’s not beyond taking his son to task for falling short on his ‘gentlemanly’ traits no matter how trying the situation.
I’ve been reading with a tiny pang of apprehension, that in Lee’s new book Atticus turns racist.. You can read the article here. I am trying to keep my faith. I just hope Lee does him justice. I’d hate to see him fall. Need to get to that book fast.
Do share your favourite characters with me. And don’t forget to come back next week. Meanwhile take a guess about the gentleman in my next post. Yes, he’s a man again and he’s a teacher. Go guess.
Joining in the ABC Wednesday fun. The meme is in its 17th round. Today’s letter is of course A.