Thursday, April 28, 2011

SRP of the Week - Nelle Harper Lee

Do you have a favorite book? What character has influenced you through the years? Any stories that stick with you? Places and people you like to revisit?

For me, it has always been To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee. I don't remember when I first read it. I don't recall if it was for school, or for fun. Or both. But I fell in love immediately. I knew the people. They are my people. Scenes in the book feel like scenes from my memories, and are peopled with the same types of characters. I feel like I know the smell of Scout's family home, and I imagine it smells a lot like my Granny's house.

As much as I love the people in TKaM, I really love Scout, and the relationship she has with Atticus. What a profound experience to see a child being treated like a rational, thinking person. Atticus doesn't dumb down his interactions with his children. And he doesn't try to shield them from the very real, very terrible events happening around them. Instead, he talks to them. A lot. About deep subjects. And he helps to guide them in their thinking.

But I reserve most of my adoration for Scout. What a great, active, adventurous, smart, brave little girl! You just know she's going to grow up to be someone so awesome, you'd want to know her. Or be her.

There isn't a lot of information about Nelle Harper Lee available online, although I was able to find a couple of informative pieces. One, a biography on the National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read site, was quite detailed. It tells of her tomboy childhood (and friendship with Truman Capote), introduction to literature, attempts to "fit in" in college, and eventually her departure for New York City. One gets the impression that she is a unique character, one who never quite meets others' expectations, nor really cares much to try. It is tempting to place our own expectations on such an enigmatic figure, but that isn't quite fair either.

She is a private person, who strives to remain private, even in the face of outlandish attempts to corner her into giving an interview. But even when she is telling you to take a flying leap, she is cordial and smiling. A true Southern woman, I suppose.

Certainly a true Self-Rescuing Princess!


Post a Comment