Tuesday, December 14, 2004

to misrepresent a mockingbird

I'm rapidly becoming a skeptic of everything, including the press, and the press isn't helping. Not just with the big things, either. Come on, can't you get anything right?

A Guardian column on a poll of women's fiction says that Pride and Prejudice has won a poll for having "spoken to you on a personal level." It also said that To Kill a Mockingbird came in second (it would have been my personal choice!) "despite the fact that the main female character, Scout, is a child, and that the only major adult female character in the novel is one who falsely cries rape against an innocent man."

Okay, they got the child part right. As for the adult females, have they never read the freaking book? There are several major adult female characters (not even counting Mayella, who gets air time in one whole chapter of the book and has never struck me as a major character, having neither an interesting personality nor any time for character development; indeed, it took me a minute to recall her name.) By what measure does Calpurnia not count as a major adult female character? What about Aunt Alexandra, whose shadow lies across at least half the book? Then there's Miss Maudie, whom I would have loved to know. She's way more major than Mayella.

Of course, talking about the adult females is leaving aside the idea that one might actually have read it as a (comparative) child, or that one might be touched by the hard lessons Scout learns about people, and the different but still hard lessons she learns about being female in her world (which she learns from those nonexistent adult females like Aunt Alexandra and Miss Maudie).


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