Tuesday, 14 July 2015

An Atticus Finch Moment

* note....the comments that follow this blog are more interesting and moving-than the blog itself
Make sure you read them!

I've always thought that Harper Lee's " To Kill A Mockingbird" was an adult book for children. I say this because I have a feeling that although like many other people , I have re read the novel many times during my lifetime, I will never really forget reading it at school when I was a child of 12.
Mockingbird is essentially an exploration of childhood innocence and the moral nature of people. The children, Scout and Jem have to face the dark side of racism, bullying and the unfairness of small town life but do so under the wing of a father who is sympathetic to all. Atticus Finch is the father all children wish they had when they were twelve.
From what I can gather the theme of Harper Lee's second novel " Go Set A Watchman" is one of disillusionment, namely Scout's disillusionment in her father, who turns out to be as bigoted as most of the other inhabitants of Maycombe and although the " falling from grace" of a parent through the eyes of an adoring child is something that most people experience sometime in their lives, the toppling of Atticus from his pedestal seems a step too far.
I grew up with parents that disappointed me. It's seems a terrible thing to say but it was true. When I was twelve I ached for a father or mother like Atticus.


My parents were too wrapped up in their own issues to really be bothered with the moral dilemmas in side their kids' heads.
Having said this I do remember one Atticus moment amid a brown 1970s childhood.
I had gone to bed , but had got up to listen to a family discussion from the safety of the top of the stairs. The discussion was centred around someone known to the family who had been caught in a gay clinch so to speak and it is important to remember here that in the 1970s, this sort of thing was deemed rather shocking to say the least.
Amid the head shaking and the " shame" comments one voice proved to be the voice of reason and balance and that was the voice of my mother.
Like Henry Fonda's juror number 8, in Twelve Angry Men , she calmly stuck up for the person involved, patiently giving a human face to the whole situation and pouring oil on a very stormy sea.
Even at twelve , I remember being rather proud of her individual stand against a tide of small mindedness...and even at twelve I knew that she was right and they were wrong.

What was your Atticus Finch moment?
I'd be interested to Know!



126 comments:

  1. Sorry to dodge your question at the end but may come back to it later.
    Rather unaccountably (and disgracefully?) I never read 'Mockingbird' until about 15 years ago - and me having been such a voracious and insatiable devourer of books all my life! I've read it twice since and must say it gets more impressive every time.

    That was very far-sighted and brave of your mum, especially seeing as when it was, when the only remarks about gays which were tolerated had to be negative and condemnatory ones - rather as in Putin's Russia right now.
    At the age of twelve it must have been a watershed moment for you, and most comfortingly reassuring. At that same age I was swallowing all the R.C. dogma, hook, line AND sinker! (The 'Sin of Sodom'! - though wasn't quite sure exactly what that was, but I knew it was a 'most grievous sin' - about on a par with murder). Within the family such subjects were never talked about and I never overheard any such - though my late elder brother did, but only very occasionally, refer to me as a 'poof'.

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    1. Funnily enough, i never came out to her
      But there, are numerous reasons for this

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    2. I can understand that, Jon - and I don't necessarily want to know the answer.
      Me neither, at least not face-to-face. My sister, one day after hearing my mum pestering me to find a "nice girl, get married and settle down", which she did fairly regularly without exactly overdoing it, must have had a quiet word to her and my mum never mentioned it again. I'm only guessing, but I think my sister (whom I've also never 'officially' come out to) will have said something like "I don't think he's the 'marrying kind' and that made the penny drop for my mum. I think if she, my mum, had suspected I was gay she'd have been in denial as she was devoutly religious right to the end, 10 years ago. If I had come out to her in person I've no doubt she would have been hurt, though maybe keeping it all inside. She certainly wouldn't have rejected me. Maybe your reasons are very similar.

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  2. Not sure I had one John, but there are things - looking back on my childhood (I was the child of elderly parents and my brother and sister were much older than me) which I dearly wish had been done differently.
    I was a very clever child and passed the scholarship to go the Grammar School - the first one in the family to do so. But I always felt different - I could only play rounders because they wouldn't (or couldn't afford) buy me a hockey stick, I rarely wore school uniform (it was war time and it was not compulsory, although most girls did wear it) - lots of little things which caused me to feel apart from most of the other girls, and I admit I often lied rather than let them know the truth of the situation. Looking back I question whether I should have gone really. I had to leave at 16 because they couldn't afford to keep me there any longer (my saviour was my first husband who pushed me into taking exams, doing a University degree, going in for teacher training - giving me the confidence I so badly needed.) And yet I cannot and do not blame my parents for any of this - they were products of their own background and generation and thought they were doing their very best for me. And, incidentally, I loved them both dearly.

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    1. Yes.......although in retrospect i was dissapointed in my parents , i grew to accept them

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  3. My copy is due today. If what you say is true, as soon as that pedestal begins to wobble I will stop reading. Atticus should remain how we see him in Mockingbird.
    The nearest Atticus moment I remember was when I told my parents I was getting married. My boyfriend wasn't white. My mother left the room in tears and I heard my dad say ' it's her life, she has to make her own decisions'. Does that count?

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  4. I am not sure if I want to read the new book. We read " Mockingbird" a few years ago with our book club, and it is the highest scoring book we have read so far. Normally we are varied in our appreciation of the current read, but this one was unanimously a great book. I love the film as well.
    My younger brother is gay, and has been with his partner for over 40 years now. I have no idea if he " came out" to my parents, but I suspect my father put his head in the sand and my mother loved him anyway when they maybe realised. I do know that in the early days when they went to visit . Mike would go and stay with his mother. It was a gradual realisation for me too, as I only really saw him once a year at Xmas and only began to have more contact after Dad died and we were both looking after Mum's interests. We visit them every few months these days for a lunch ( with the dogs too…they have 2 greyhounds and my schnauzer gets on well with them). I used to work with a young man ( 17) who was very " camp" and I adored him. He was the only one who visited me in hospital when I had my knee done.

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    1. There's a whole lot of stuff in that paragraph

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    2. Which bit do you mean?

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    3. Frances, I suspect John is referring to the fact that your brother could not be openly gay because of your parents' prejudices, especially since he had to 'stow' his partner away whenever they came to visit (pretty awful situation for your brother and Mike) and your contact with your brother only became more frequent after your Father's death. Just my take on it. Hope you don't mind.

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    4. Sorry francis nana nailed it.....i didnt explain what i thought properly

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    5. I have no idea what my parents prejudices were, but it was a long time ago when being gay was not so accepted as it is now
      ! I didn't really get on with my brother as he arrived when I was 4 and half and apparently was very jealous at the time!
      He left home at 18 and I never really saw him much after that. I had my own life to lead. I can't say that we are close siblings,never were, and I get on better with Mike than I do with my bro.. Hey Ho, as they say.
      Taking my nearly daughter in law and son to meet up with them soon as Rista hasn't met either of them and they are going to be at the wedding in October. Of course I don't mind Nana Go-Go I love the chat between commenters and bloggers. ( unless it is nasty, which has happened recently)

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    6. But not today francis...this has been a lovely blog day x

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    7. I just read this Frances. Like John said, there is a lot in there. Don't know what else to say but didn't know and I am glad you shared it.xxxxx

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    8. Thank you john and Rachel. I just had to go downstairs after having gone to bed to get my iPhone as the very old iPad doesn't like to do comments. Might get a newer one for my birthday in October. Phone has just put some old
      Stuff into this .... Deleted it. No idea what going on! John you are right, so many wonderful comments on your last post. I love our blog land family. Especially you , Rachel , weaver and Cro. My favourites. Love to you all xx

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  5. I have an old friend coming to stay today. Her father was one of those men that everyone would have wanted as a father. I certainly did; not that I disliked my own parents.

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    1. Hope you're feeling less bruised today oldchum......

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  6. I can't say I ever had an Atticus Finch moment. Perhaps I was lucky. My parents never really disappointed me even though they had their human frailties. I vividly recall lying in bed one night at the age of nine or ten and thinking "What would it be like if mum and dad died?". It was a moment of adult realisation and I cried myself to sleep that night - blubbering like a baby. I think it was the moment that I lost my innocence.

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    1. I think most kids do the crying at the possible death of a parent....
      I didnt
      I cried worrying about my grandparents
      That fact speaks volumes

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  7. I can't recall having an Atticus Finch moment but I do remember having a brown and orange 1970's childhood and vague memories where adults whispered and spoke in code.

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    1. Lol...and they s p e l l e d everything out!

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  8. I had a few, all with my father, but the one that sticks out most in my mind is my coming out to my parents.

    I was named after my father, and my grandfather,m so I kept my secret longer than I should have, thinking my father would hate knowing his name-sake was gay.

    But when I finally said those words to him, he simply said, "I love you very much."

    Still makes me tear up a bit.

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    1. A sweet moment and a precious one...me thinks

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    2. That's beautiful, Bob.

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  9. Oh dear, I think I'll have to pass on this one... not because I can't answer it, but because the answer would be too bitter.

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  10. My moment: My mother's cool hand on my forehead, simmering my anxieties and careening thoughts. Don't think that counts, but it's what first presented itself in answer to your question.

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    1. I think it counts only too well xxx

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  11. I am not sure if I can pinpoint a moment. I know when my father died my mother was focused on me and my sister . My father had a heart attack and died in front of my sister and myself . Mum was amazing and I never doubted her ability to care for my sister and myself. I remember asking Mum after dad died " will we poor now?". Mum said we would be fine and I never worried about us as a family and our stability either. Looking back I am thankful that after the death of my dad my sister, mother and I became even more precious to each other as we had experienced such a loss . My mother is my hero and she always was a person with integrity and am always proud of what a good person she is.

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    1. With comments like yours I am enjoying this blog thread more and more

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  12. There is a time for most of us when we find out that our parents have feet of clay. Although I loved my parents with all my heart, they had their demons, my mother being judgemental ( due to her religion and upbringing) and my dad being a boarderline alcoholic. We all have our problems, we are human and imperfect, but we mostly do our best to raise good kids. We are works in progress and thankfully, we have the ability to learn and grow.

    I will not read the book; Atiticus is a hero and I want him to stay that way. I wish they had never found the manuscript.

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    1. Yes, i think the same

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    2. I'm confused. Wasn't the new book written before 20 years before 'Mockingbird'? Lots of controversy about it in the States.

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    3. SO, your family sounds like almost every family I know. I shan't read the book either!

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  13. Mine was the antithesis of an Atticus moment. My father, a kind caring card holding socialist, who told me that all were equal was someone I loved and respected (as I did my mother) and I had a wonderful childhood. However, for my 18th I held a party at home and my parents stayed in the kitchen, as they did in those days. One of my friends was Jamaican and another Asian. My father called me into the kitchen and asked me what I thought the neighbours would think, about having "coloureds" in the house? I was so ashamed of him that I turned on my heel and walked away. A few minutes later another friend arrived in his white "tribal" costume. As I had with all my other friends I introduced him. " Dad " I said "This is Prince ***** ******" (which indeed he was) "I'm delighted to make your acquaintance sir" my father said and actually made a small bow, when the other two guys had received a curt nod. I have never forgotten that moment, the only time that I was ashamed of my dad.
    I downloaded Mockingbird a few months ago when I heard of this new book, to refresh my memory as I read it once as a teenager and once on my early twenties (forty odd years ago) I think I appreciated it more this time and will definitely read Watchman.

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    1. The comments ...like yours are much better stories than the original post...thank you for this one

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  14. My atticus moment was when my mother confronted a man who was beating his dog in the street.my brother and I were with her and we were just kids.she was a small slim woman but she had balls!she was a huge animal lover and couldn't abide cruelty.qualities which my brother and I both have.I felt so proud of her although the incident upset me at the time.

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    1. I bet you remember this as though it was yesterday

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  15. Sorry to say, I don't recall my mother or father ever unexpectedly sticking up for anyone. They were much better at tut-tutting and saying so-and-so should be ashamed of himself.

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  16. My parents? Never. However, I remember once the parents of some friends of mine gathering a lot of us together one night and telling us that if any of us ever needed them in any way, that they would be there for us. Those people were just pure grace-full and loving and I will never forget that.

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    1. That is an incredibly important moment....
      A short moment but one you clearly treasure

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  17. My teenaged daughter gets terribly embarrassed when I am vocal about 'parents' being verbally vile to their children (or indeed, a grandchild once) especially tiny ones. Makes my stomach hurt.
    My parents were older too (mum made the local paper when she had my younger brother - surprised - at 47) there was 21 yrs between eldest and youngest. It was one my older brothers that fell off the pedestal..... and ended up in jail.
    My 70s childhood was bottle green, orange and beige. yum.
    xx

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    1. Funny how a colour can encapsulate a time

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  18. I spent my entire childhood wishing for parents like Atticus Finch. My mom and dad were alcoholics and my childhood was not happy. I read TKAM at a very young age, being a lonely little bookworm, and I can tell you from growing up in a small town in the deep South that Harper Lee's voice rang true about so many things.

    I work in a bookstore, and last night I stayed late preparing for this morning's unveiling of Go Set A Watchman. I am afraid people are going to be awfully disappointed based in what I've heard about it. (We weren't even allowed to open the boxes of books last night!) There has been a great deal of controversy over this book's release, given how elderly Miss Lee is and the fact that it was her first novel, written when she was only 19, and never wanted it published. I fear she may have been taken advantage of, and a lot if other people do too.

    I can hardly stand the idea of Atticus being an old racist.....I'm not sure I'll be reading it. I'll just keep Atticus as that perfect father figure in my head, I think.

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    1. Its interesting that so many people need Atticus to remain Atticus.....there's a lesson hidden in that fact me thinks

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    2. Oh Jennifer, I'm really sorry to read this about your childhood.xxx

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    3. I grew up with a very racist father and an emotionally distant mother. Although my father hated almost everyone, my mother did several things that were Atticus moments. She hired a Japanese/American cleaning lady not long after WWII ended and she made certain to pay into our Social Security system for her. She did the same for our next cleaning lady, who was African/American. At my mother's funeral, the Black housekeeper came and hugged me and told me how kind my mother was to her. It changed a lot of the feelings I had for my mother.

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  19. Raised in a one-parent home I have to say my mom, with all her faults was pretty accepting of any and everyone, including the neighborhood alcoholics and even the people who were not so mentally stable. She had a kind heart for the underdog and the person on the skids. Which is why at any given time in our small apartment you never knew who might be camping out on the sofa or floor. Unfortunately, I honestly can say I'm not sure she showed the same compassion for her children.

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    1. Aint that always the way

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  20. In the early 1940's my grandmother and my 15 yr. old mom were walking downtown shopping when they came across a young black mother and her young son who was visibly quite sick at the stomach. Everyone was walking around the pair ,pretending they "didn't see", much less care about 'those Blacks". My Grandmother said...."This is ridiculous" , marched over, cleaned his little face with her linen hankie,grabbed his and his mom's hand and said "Let's get you to a doctor". My mom grew up to raise my sister and I the same way. Even though I wasn't there to see it she was my Atticus moment.

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    1. What a bloody wonderful moment

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  21. Not an answer to your question, but I and my 11 year old son would climb into bed each night and read a chapter to each other (mostly he would say, "you read it Mom".). Those were the best of times.

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  22. Mu junior year English teacher had us read "Mockingbird" in high school and showed us the film. Atticus Finch represents all that could be right in the world. Justice, understanding and to have him be written differently is not something I can get behind. Harper Lee has the right to publish it and I have the right to keep my vision, and Gregory Peck's portrayal, as the ideal. Right or wrong, that is how I want it.
    I have two incidences I can recall where my mom gave me a good life lesson. One, I was very young so I remember it vaguely. was where a woman was smacking her young child at the store telling him to stop crying or she would give him something to cry about. My mom had been abused as a child and she grabbed the woman's hand and pretty much told her, hit that kid again I call the cops.
    The second was her telling me about her best friend in high school who was gay and that gay people are no different than straight. She took me to NYC a lot and to Christopher Street where many gay men and women lived and felt somewhat accepted and safe. To this day I still do not understand why people have issues with someone being gay or black or whatever. As long as you are a good person and don't hurt anyone, carry on.

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    1. Having a child means that you have a responsibility to help that child grow up in a rounded way...obviously ypur mom did that

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  23. Atticus was actually appointed by the Judge to represent the defendant. I think people confuse the book with the Gregory Peck playing Atticus and the fact that he made Atticus seem so morally right compared to the rest of the town. My take on the book was actually the love this man had for his children and how he wanted to protect them from the world around them. The trial is the secondary part of the book.

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    1. Interesting... Though i didnt get a hint of southern racism in Atticus from the book...mind you it was how the children viewed him..... I have a different take... atticus did see the good ineveryone and wanted his kids to be balanced.
      Mrs dubose was an ideal example of this...... He forced jem and scout to read to her so that they would understand the strength in her ability to kick morphine even though she was a crabby old bag....

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  24. Mine was when I was about 10 or 12 but didn't see the importance of it until years later ..I grew up in the Southern US . In a time when the black people lived on one side of town and everyone else lived in other areas . We were more out in the country and schools were segregated.
    My mother kept getting pregnant and losing the babies. Finally she seemed to be keeping one so she went to bed and was afraid to get up until the baby came. So we got a cleaning lady. A lovely black lady who was gentle and soft spoken and as kind as anyone could be to a little girl who was mostly forgotten in all the excitement of a new baby coming and mama being fragile.
    One day as the cleaning lady was there and my mothers brother in law was stopping by, the cleaning lady asked my mother a question. My mother said Yes, ma'm ... as all Southerners say ma'm and sir.
    Her brother in law, said you are calling that n***er ma'm ??
    Mom told me later how embarrassed and sad she was for the lady .. but my mother managed to remain calm and quiet spoken as she told the brother in law .. ( a man famous for his cruelty to his dogs and his children) .. Yes, I did. . now you run along now .
    Dismissing him was the best thing she could do in those times and on that day. I always remembered that because my mother is not a brave or bold person but that day she did what was right.

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    1. That was as powerful and as moving as anything harper Lee could write...so much so as it is true
      Thank you

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    2. Oh John, thank you :)

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    3. That story brought tears to my eyes.

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  25. My sister once beat up a girl who was bullying our little sister who has autism and epilepsy. She was sent to the principal for it, who told her she was proud of her.

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  26. My father was a quiet, gentle man so there was much to love about him. But the thing I think made me proudest of him was the day he came home from a fishing trip missing two teeth - he had gotten into a fistfight with a man who was roughing up his own son. Fighting was just not in my father's nature, so it said something about how strongly he felt about the situation.

    I don't think I will be reading the new book. Actually the old one has felt tarnished, to me, by the information I've read on the new one. What I read was that To Set a Watchman is more along the lines of Lee's original manuscript. She made the changes that became To Kill a Mockingbird at the direction of her editor or publisher.

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    1. Dads and daughters seem to be a theme here today

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  27. What an interesting set of comments, John!
    In the unlikely setting of the deep south of the US in the 1960s, my parents were extremely egalitarian, teaching us 4 kids that every human is deserving of our respect. With just a couple of shocking exceptions, they lived up to that throughout their lives. Not that it was all light and happiness, but it was fair and loving. No standout moments, just quiet constancy. I wish that everyone could be so fortunate.

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    1. I always wanted consistancy as a kid...we ever had it

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  28. Still waiting for my Atticus moment and I loved the book and the film.

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  29. Wow ... what a fascinating stream of comments. I have nothing to add, except that I do not intend to read the new book, and am sick of the amount of publicity that is surrounding it.

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  30. Such interesting comments.

    I grew up being very proud of my mother and I still am. At 86 she's still great to talk about " The bigger picture " something I try to instill when friends or family are being too judgemental or too black & white.

    I did a project on prejudice when I was sixteen; To kill a mockingbird was one of the books I reviewed.

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  31. I cant add any Atticus moment that could match anything here. We just lived in the country and my mother and father were quietly tolerant of all, and we were brought up the same, in fact I never thought anything about it at the time because it was natural and not a big deal, and that is all I remember. I enjoyed your post and all the comments too.

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  32. Great post John, and great responses.
    Twice, in the last 15 minutes I have typed out a comment, with regard to my very loving, but very complicated and private mother, who died almost 20 years ago. Both times I lost my internet connection, and the comment before I could post it. I won't do it again, as obviously the powers that be feel it needs to remain private!

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    1. Shiela..... Email it!

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    2. I shall. I'll do it at the weekend when we get back from the lake. The internet connection isn't good here..xx

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  33. My 'Atticus' moment came in the late 60's (yes, I'm THAT old!) when we had just moved to a brand new housing scheme and my best friend and her family moved into the same square as us, in the house directly opposite. Her Mother had unfortunately taken up with a man who subsequently started knocking ten bells out of her mainly at the weekends after the pubs were shut. On one of those nights, my Father, who had the reputation of being a 'gentle giant' (they used to call him 'Big Bill') on hearing the woman's cries for help and pitiful pleading for the monster to stop beating her, calmly walked over to their house and when the man eventually opened the door, he took him outside and pinned him by his throat up against the coal shed and threatened him with the same treatment if he ever heard those sounds coming from his house again. My friend's Mother thankfully left the monster soon after that. I was so proud of my Dad that night.

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    1. My stepfather used to come home blind drunk every Saturday night. It always ended in terrible row. One night, while they were in bed, he hit my mum and she yelled for him to stop. I was only 12, tiny and quiet and I marched into the bedroom and told him that if he laid one more finger on her, I would call the police. He lunged out of bed as if to attack me and I fled. My mum and me and my two little sisters stayed in my bedroom all night with furniture up against the door for protection.

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    2. But a john Wayne type dad would be so cool

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  34. We read many books in English at school for our exams, but the only one I can remember is To Kill a Mockingbird. It must have made an impression!

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  35. To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books of all time. I didn't know Harper Lee wrote anything else.

    When I was 12, my father went to the store and never came back, and we were poorer than poor. My mother had applied for food stamps earlier that week. We had $20 and no more for an undetermined amount of time. We were at church doing some work on a friday and a homeless man came in looking for food and a moment out of the bitter cold. There was only a loaf of bread in the pantry. My mother told him to come find her on Sunday, then we went shopping and spent that $20 on food, grooming supplies, and a backpack to carry it. She went through my father's clothes and bagged up the few things he left behind. On Sunday, we waited for him until after the doors were locked. He finally came. She gave him all these things and told him to come find her again if he needed anything. He never did. But I will never forget what she did.

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    1. Incredible and moving
      Did you ever discuss it with her Kristin?

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    2. Yes. She said her brother disappeared when I was four. Nobody really knew where he was but they knew he was on the streets. She said (about this man), "He might have been somebody's brother."

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    3. Yes. She said her brother disappeared when I was four. Nobody really knew where he was but they knew he was on the streets. She said (about this man), "He might have been somebody's brother."

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  36. When I was very young we often visited with a nearby Japanese family. My dad and the father had been friends growing up together. I didn't understand until much later that my dad had been in WW2 in the Pacific area, and the Japanese family had spent time in an internment camp. My mom told me my dad was determined that his friend and family would be accepted back into our community. They were.

    Both of my parents stood up for what they thought was right. I was embarrassed by that sometimes, especially as a teenager, but as an adult with a kid of my own, I was often grateful for them as role models.

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    1. Were were the internment camps jan? Were they dotted all ver the us?

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    2. Not Jan but.....
      There were interment camps mostly in the western states.
      One of my friends was in one that was in Idaho. He was very young but remembers. He had to learn Japanese all over again when he was older because his Mum wouldn't let him speak Japanese when he was growing up.
      We always drove by the Manzanar, California camp every time we went skiing. Very sad time in America.
      Daughter and I went a few time to the Japanese History Museum in L.A's Little Tokyo.
      My oldest son wife is Japanese and had to ask permission of her family to take her family name. They all said yes ! And now I have the very best Granddaughter ever.
      Life does circle around.

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  37. Not sure if this is an Aticus moment but for as long as I can remember I was desperate to get away from England. I grew up in inner city Birmingham in the 60s and while I had a lovely family if you can picture a depressing Sunday evening, after a day of grey skies and the mind-numbing sound of Songs of Praise in the background I couldn't wait to get away. I specifically studied languages in order to do just that.

    However, when I was just 14 my father had the first of many heart attacks. We were poor and I remember being devastated at the thought of having to stick around to make sure mom was ok. A bit daft I suppose as I had 4 older brothers and sisters all working but somehow it felt like I just couldn't leave her if dad died.

    I always felt that mom and I weren't close when I was growing up. In retrospect I realize that she was going through a hell of a menopause while I was a teenager (an easygoing one, I would add). To me it seemed like all she did was yell and scream at me and show her dislike. But one day she called me over and handed me a watch. When I asked what it was for she just said "oh, it's just a present. But I want you to know that whatever happens to dad, you WILL go abroad to live. It's what you have always wanted". I knew from then on that things were okay between us and always would be.

    Once I had finished Uni I started applying anywhere I could and was lucky enough to get a job in Switzerland at 21. I have lived in the States and Australia also but eventually ended up back in Switzerland (living just across the border in France). While I love going "home" and I miss the humour, I know I will never go back to the UK to live. But I thank God over and over again that mom had the strength to let me go.

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    1. Funny you ibew at such an early age where you needed to go...

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  38. Your most boring bloody post to date.

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    1. Who pissed on your chips?

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  39. My father was the small town's undertaker. One of the residents died of AIDS way back when the epidemic started. My father went and picked up this man's body and "laid him" out. The town was angry that my father was willing to take such a chance. No one was going to show up for his funeral so my mother dressed all us 6 kids and brought us to the cemetery so that "someone would mark his passing." I never forgot this. And sadly, I have stood to mark several friends that passed with AIDS.

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    1. I salute your mom and Dad... Heroes xxx

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  40. I don't know that I ever had an Atticus moment. I remember as a very young child growing up in the segregated South when water fountains were marked for whites and colored separately. Hard to believe in this day and time. I was taught to be respectful to everyone no matter what color they were. I was taught to yes, ma'am and no, sir, to anyone that was older than me, again regardless of color. I was also growing up in the south when our school was integrated and I will say proudly that we never had a problem, everyone got along wonderfully and life long friends were made. We all, white and black, were taught to be respectful in my neck of the woods. Of course, there wasn't a drug epidemic, gangster music, black panthers, black muslims, career welfare recipients, black on black violence (that is never news), but one incident of white on black and it is world wide news, you name it and it wasn't there. Folks just looked out for one another. How did society change so much? There is so much political correctness now I just want to vomit! The last straw for me was the Confederate Battle Flag and how it's history has been so maligned! The flag has been desecrated by red necks and a lot of other little ignorant piss ant organizations who have little or no knowledge about the history of the flag. Lord knows, they can't even teach history in this country! And, all this flag business starts with one drug crazed, low life, white piece of shit of humanity that goes into a black church and starts shooting. I can't fathom the pain those folks have been through. I have cried every time the news started broadcasting about it. He had a license plate on his car with a confederate battle flag and I think there were a few more of him on the news with it. It's funny the news channels never showed him standing with an American flag burning it. That wasn't BIG news. It wasn't race baiting news. We are living in sad times and I am afraid my Atticus moment will be in the new book - unless maybe Scout can talk me out of it! …Hangs head down in silence.

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    1. Thank you for this
      And thank youfor being you
      X

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    2. So right Galestorm.

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  41. My mother was my heroine. She always stood up for the little guy and wanted to save the planet back in the 80's. She and one of her friends saved her firends neighbour from a guy who turned out to be a wanted murderer in the USA. She made arrangements to get her out of the house, find her somewhere else to live and make sure she had the basic essentials. Her and her friend saved that lady's life. She was obsessed with picking up litter and recycling long before it became popular. So many stories of her kindness and compassion. I miss her xx

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    1. A mom as a hero
      What could be better?

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    2. One of my mother's favourite maxims was to 'always look after the under-dog'.

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  42. I just read this, missed reading yesterday. But I'll send my comment even if it's too late for you to see it or read it , John. Still, that's ok because it least I get to type it out.

    I came from a very abusive family, raging alcoholic father and mother too busy worrying about what the neighbors thought to watch out for her children, let alone care what they were experiencing. It was overwhelming and life altering for all of us, (4 kids) but I was the runt and so mine included every kind you can think of. In my long 60 some years I never got that Atticus moment. Never got a time when someone actually "saw" me and cared. Until....I found Mary Moon's blog "bless our hearts". She knew immediately - made me feel "seen" and never forgotten. So now I've gotten it. My Atticus moment, from a woman who never even met me.

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    1. Ms moon is a special lady......kind, gentle and sweet natured
      Good for you x

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  43. Small spoiler...
    I read a in depth review of the book and I will not be reading it.
    Either it is the truth and Mocking bird is a lie and I just don't think I want to go there.
    Some editor had a huge hand in one or the other. I don't know ?

    My moment came very early on. My dad worked the late shift and we didn't see him a lot. But later on he worked 9 to 5. Later on I saw that he was a drunk. He would work for a year in places like Chile to set up telescopes. That is when I found out our family was in huge debt. We never knew where the money went. But my Mum stayed behind, in Tucson, went back to work, we moved into a tiny rental and she worked us out of debt.
    My Mum didn't fail she stood strong and kept us all housed, fed and we all went to school. She never said much to us about our father but his actions spoke loud.
    I saw all that and realized my dad should have never been married.
    But even with all that knowledge I did not chose well when I married.

    cheers, parsnip

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    1. Opps forgot to add We grew up with manner no matter who we were around. Yes and No sir, please and thank you opening doors, helping others it was a way of life not like the rudeness of today.
      Mum was into all the frugal things that are
      so important today. She baked bread and could grow anything she made a lot of my clothes.
      She is my hero but mostly just my Mum.

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    2. " She is my hero but mostly just my Mum."

      The very best sort of Mum there is .

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  44. Every new parent/grandparent/neighbor and friend..... should read these posts. John, keep bringing out the "best" of people, I love this blog, the world needs positive stuff! #feelingoptomistic

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  45. I grew up with a mannerly, gentle, educated mother and a charming, sociopathic arsehole for a stepfather. He ran us all ragged till he got as much money out of her as he could and then he went on his way after 20 years of destruction. I think my Atticus moment, if it could be said to be such, was spending a week or two staying with a horse trainer and his family to learn from him. He was kind, honorable, steady, patient with me and the horses. His wife was so sweet and jolly and would brush my hair of an evening for me. (This sticks in my mind with amazing clarity, that gentle hair brushing in the loungeroom of an evening.) Their two kids, older than me, were so friendly to me and had hobbies and dreams and confidence. Their poodle slept on my bed and they had a darling GSD who accompanied me about the stables. It was so calm and without drama. I get teary to even write about that time, 35 years later. I am forever thankful to them all for showing me what a family can be like, and also, sadly, that a man of a certain age can be trusted!

    Mum, sis and I weathered the storm and came out of it more honest and bonded than ever. I'm not angry at mum. He was not something she was ever equipped to handle.

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  46. I read all the comments. Some sad. Some sweet. My mother was quite difficult, but when I was a teenager I did something that wasn't illegal, but it wasn't good. My mother found out and she said, Wipe the slate clean and start over again. I was shocked. I have always felt that anyone who gets to know me hates me. The Hurricane hasn't spoken to me for weeks, and has been angry with me for years. Willy Dunne Wooters gets so angry with me that I live in fear of upsetting him with a simple comment. My ex-husband abused me verbally and physically.My four sisters hate me, and though they are wealthy only one helped me a bit when I got divorced but I had to ask. She didn't offer. Yet all these strangers on blogs are my friends and are so kind and loving. I wish the people I know in person felt the same way about me. I'm not sure what I do that's so wrong, but there seem to be invisible rules I don't know about, so I don't always follow the rules and it upsets people. I just want to be who I am.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Janie, I don't know you but I get the feeling everyone told you you were no good and you believed it. I have a strong character but my ex was abusive verbally and physically. I knew he was a twat but after so many, many years of being told I was useless I eventually started to question if I really was. Thankfully I got a lot of professional support and I have a family that backed me to the hilt. I came out of it the other side much, much better and happier. He on the other hand, is now about to make someone else's life an utter misery - and you know what, I feel sorry for her because she has NO idea. So you see, it isn't you, it's them. Anna

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    2. Janie, i would like email you separately
      Jx

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  47. Good Lord John, There's enough here to fill several books and blog pages. What a very interesting lot of comments.

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  48. Me again... My mother told me that after the second world war her school organised an exchange with a French school. The parents were informed that one of the exchange girls was Jewish. My grandmother, Mollie shot her hand up straight away.
    Mum & Janine the girl remained friends through their adult lives. We visited them in the 70's & my oldest brother stayed with them & we took their daughter Martine home for a holiday.

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    1. And a fitting story to end on... Thank you

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  49. I nominate TL Merrybard for this one liner... " I'm not angry at mum. He was not something she was ever equipped to handle".
    that for me epitomises an Atticus moment.

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  50. These comments are amazing. My eyes are watering. I am reminded of how grateful I am (TRULY grateful) that I had parents that taught me and my siblings to be accepting and caring. Both of my parents were physically or emotionally abused as children (something none of us realized until now as adults) and they both did quite the opposite with us. As I get older I realize this more and more and my respect for them grows. To be raised in a way that leads you to be caring and accepting is a gift. One all children should receive.

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  51. I very rarely post a reply but I want to acknowledge my parents and what they taught us by example. Just 2 of many.
    My father had a very good friend during the 1950's who was Japanese. It was not easy for him as my Dad ex Army was very active in service organizations. He got a lot of flack for it. They were great friends till we moved 1000 miles away.
    When we moved into a new(to us)house in 1963 the neighbor lady came over to greet us and said right away "Were Jewish" My Mom was surprised and answered. Okay, were Methodists. The woman was so surprised that she just laughed and laughed. She explained that the previous owners of the house had been friends until they found out they were Jews and cut off all contact and sold their house!! She didn't want her boys to be hurt again like that. I remember standing in the front yard being so shocked hearing that. I just couldn't understand it. I was so proud that my Mom made Estelle feel good again and that she was not prejudiced about race or religion just stupidity.

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    1. Thank you for that...this post has proved to be one of my favs

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    2. I had a meeting yesterday with a local councillor and local residents about an issue concerning our area. I didn't even ask which political party she represented. When she mentioned disregarding politics, I said to her that community is much more important than differences in politics or religion. Well done to your mum!

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  52. I have only ever been disappointed by people (apart from two - my children, although they still have time).

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    1. Oh... the general disappointment in people includes disappointment in myself, by the way, and more in myself than in many others.

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  53. I am very sad to say I did not understand the meaning of an Atticus moment ... and had to read the comments to understand why....I got the gist however....my parents were loving (somewhat) but distant... my mother was the type if you fell over and skinned a knee the comment was.... what is wrong with you... get up you have two knees. Very difficult to garner warmth from that sentiment. However it made me very resiliant .. but wary and determined to do better...and I hope I dealt with my children's foibles much better.

    Jo in Auckland, NZ

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