Monday, December 1, 2008

In this year of grace.

I brought three books of fiction with me when I came here to Humber. I brought Jonathan Strange because I was re-reading it at the time. I brought my three volumes of Peake's Ghormenghast, because it's passages of faded grandeur appealed to me greatly as an companion in misery. And I brought my well read copy of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mocking Bird. People say it's a book about growing up, but I've always felt it a much more melancholic book then that. Atticus is Quixote, not the deluded Quixote of Cervantes' beginning, a deluded madman who sees giants in flour mills. Atticus is a Quixote of Part Two, a man clinging to honour because no one else will, a man who charges out knowing that he is most likely doomed to failure, but he goes out anyways, because no one else will, because it's his duty to do so.

And he fails. Just like Quixote, Atticus fails. And he fights the best god damned fight he can, we cheer for him, are fueled by the passion of his argument, of his fight. And he fails because it was not possible to succeed.

There's... there's a line from the book. Atticus has lost, and exits the courtroom, and the entire upper balcony rises to mark his going, as a sign of respect, as a sign of gratitude. Reverend Sykes says to young Scout "Miss Jean-Louise, stand up. Your father's passing."

We don't do that anymore. We don't tilt lances with Knights of the White Moon, we don't go for lost causes. We don't stand for those who do. Maybe we never did.


Jerry Prager said...

I thought you were describing Dion.

Jerry Prager said...

It's an excellent analysis by the way.