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Yes, Harper Lee! I know what you want to suggest – whites are bad and they are racist at times. They come from a country which did not let the women vote for a long time. They come from a nation which did not let the blacks participate in democracy for a long time. They come from a nation which is still in dilemma over terrorism – whether they did well by eliminating the menace Laden or they did bad creating the terrorist outfit like ISIS… I fully empathise with you in highlighting that you, your nation’s liberal lobby and your fiction – all are in a little confused state. I have finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird a few days ago. Just to purge my ‘sour-reading’ experience, I had to read some pages from Branson’s The Virgin Way; I re-read some chapters from Autobiography of a Yogi and once again embraced the eternal romance of Hardy. It was too lethargic a fiction; too slow a plot and too clever a racist superio-inferio propaganda. Racism, in no possible way, can be (and should not be) deemed good. However, there are ways to deliver the deliverable and Harper Lee chose the one which made her darling of the ‘certain’ section which does not bother to go around and mingle with the ‘deprived’ and ‘dejected’ section of the society which they often depict in their lines (fiction or non-fiction).
To be frank, racism has been there in the USA, more than any other nation. Racism is still there in that country. However, there has been a constant push to the narrative of ‘better than them’ among the whites in the USA. See Hillary for the current example – she is ‘better’ than Donald Trump (for so many people). Abraham Lincoln tried to combat it and succeeded to an extent. Still, it took more than 200 years for the Americans to realise that they need to remain together in peace and harmony. Why did it happen? (I think the writings could be better as a vision of what could make the world happy than extrapolating the scenario to even worse a state in ‘fictional exile’.)
Coming back to the novel by Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. This novel, though many have voted it as the best fiction of 20th Century, is dull (to be realistic as per my personal experience with the book). Things keep moving between three kids. They meet every summer and play. A seeming wise girl (behind whose back hides the author) takes the stead and talks sense. Things are going well otherwise and the kids are getting chocolates, chewing gums and other gifts from the ‘tree’. A black person is charged with raping a white girl. (Do you remember the case of Adela Quested?) The White girl was forcing on the black guy and she is exposed by another ‘sensible’ white guy Finch. Let’s go back home, dear readers. Case established – there are, in fact, three races in the USA. The blacks, the good whites and the bad whites. Harper Lee and liberals are the good whites who keep on painting other whites in a ‘black’ colour. I just remembered the fiction by Joseph Conrad. He also took on the case of racism so vividly. His cases were different though. Racism shouldn’t be used in the fiction to further enlarge the gap between people. It could be constructive and people could opt for a better philosophy from the author who went on winning the highest civilian award any American could receive. Amazing!
Alok Mishra’s Verdict:
You know the story now. Don’t read this novel! It’s extremely slow and boring. There is no progress to the plot. Same events on the different pages. Booing the Boo is the case… The theme is not blacks vs whites; rather it is good whites vs the black whites. Reading pleasure is negligible and you might feel like being extradited while reading this novel!