“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”
– Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird
This past week I attended a local university presentation of a play based on
Harper Lee’s classic book, To Kill a Mockingbird. In a way I felt a little sorry for the actor playing Atticus. How does someone get out from under the gigantic shadow cast by Gregory Peck ‘s portrayal in the movie.
Still, it was a first-rate play, and a wonderful reminder of how great a character Atticus Finch is in American literature. He was a true hero; not so much in the traditional sense of a physical shoot’em up, beat’em up type hero. And certainly not at all like the current trend of anti-heroes.
I don’t exactly remember, but I was maybe 13 or 14 years old when I first read To Kill a Mockingbird. What’s more, I’m not sure when I first saw the movie. But I do remember Atticus Finch as perhaps one of the first “real” heroes of my childhood. Sure, he’s a fictional character, but not like my other childhood idols; Tarzan, Hercules, Batman and the Green Lantern.
Yes, I loved my comic book heroes, but I knew deep down I would never be like them. But Atticus Finch was someone I could emulate. He was a good, decent man – an honorable man. Atticus was a man of integrity and inner strength; self-confident and willing to stand up and fight for what was right.
Hopefully, I’ve achieved that goal of growing up to be, in some ways, like Atticus. I can’t think of a greater complement. Perhaps, at the end of my life, if I were to be in some ways compared to him, I would consider my life one that was well lived.
Would I ever measure up Batman, Tarzan or Hercules? Of course not! But I do still have a fondness for them. I’ll still be going to see all the superhero blockbuster movies this summer.
Again, I enjoyed that play this week. A copy of the book has been placed in my “to read” pile. I’m Looking forward to visiting with Atticus again.
“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. 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.”
– Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mocking Bird