Harper Lee, whose second (first!) novel is to appear this summer, celebrates her birthday today.
It seems a good time to ask a simple question: Why is it a sin to kill a mockingbird?
Lee’s novel offers its own, internal justifications for the rule, but is it possible that there is some sort of tradition standing behind Atticus Finch’s injunction?
T. Gilbert Pearson, the famous Audubonian and conservationist, was 13 when he bought his first gun in 1886. This is what an aged Floridian he knew as Aunt Celie told him:
Honey, when you gits big enough to tote a gun don’t never kill nary a mockin’ bird. Every one of them little fowls takes kyer of some good man or woman what’s daid, and when you hear one asingin’ at night you knows dat some good soul done come back and is walkin’ about. A sperit kaint never leave its grave lessen its mockin’ bird hollers for it to come out.
I’d say that this story adds more than a bit of weight and depth to the novel’s title, wouldn’t you? High school sophomores, take note!