The book, To Kill a Mockingbird, is a universal read. It identifies with the lives of all people. From going from isolation to that of an invited inclusion.
When I read the book, I could identify with Scout the most. Even though her transition and struggle is different from mine, hers acts as a good model for the reader to understand. She had to make a transition which was rather difficult from being more of a tomboy to that of a girl. She had the help of her Aunt Alexandra and Calpurnia. What I liked about Scout and her brother Jem and friend, Dill, was that they provided her with a protected world in which to develop into being a whole person. She told the story from the viewpoint of an 8 year old who went through several years in Maycomb County.
During the depression era when the story was written blacks faced a lot of discrimination and poor treatment from their peers. Yet, the characters in the novel helped to unfold their development into better people.
With me, my transition was going from the handicapped world protected by the Henry Viscardi School in Long Island and into a harsher environment of the Fairfield Public school system. Not that the Fairfield Public schools were all that bad, it was the kids who were not always as understanding ,and it was during a period during the late 70s and early 80's when systems for helping and protecting kids like me make that transition were not as well developed as they are now.
I had some support at Osborn Hill School when I spent the first fifteen minutes in the gym with Mr. James who gave me the special attention with doing some kicking of a big red ball, walking on a balance beam or knocking a ball against the bat. And the moments when I was on his bowling team and could throw my balls into the gutter for the perfect score of Zero or the times I scored a respectable 90. And I had the support of Helen Carroll and Mike Abraham and Mr. Honey in Andrew Warde High when they guided me in the correct timing for college admissions, being a part of a team and just getting started during the day at homeroom.
But I had the support of my mom and dad which guided and anchored these early years of my life. No matter what my struggles have been from the times the water has been choppy and waves have crashed against my jagged rocks. They have stood there and helped me stay strong. Early reminders that are present whenever looking at the Maine Coastline that has stayed constant and not much unchanging over time.
They have been faithful with my struggles-whenever it was to provide a listening ear or a supportive hand . At times at the end of a school day when I felt like I was teased and bullied by the students who looked at me as a distraction and an interruption to their daily routine, it was always good to walk through my door at home and spend a few moments with mom who sat in her brown recliner in the livingroom and chat of what I went through that day. To relax after walking home from the bus along Margemere Drive with the azelias and dogwood trees and forsythsia bushes that lined our street. To go to the kitchen table in our breakfast nook with the brown and red and grey plaid paper on the walls or to sit on the barstool next to the three paned wall windows that looked out onto our expansive backyard-to just share my frustrations and tears and joys of the day while sipping a tall glass of milk and munching on a hot buttered date muffin that has just come out of the oven- something as a teenager that was easier to do since I did not have all of the trappings of adulthood added onto me.
When I look back on the book and see the early scene of Scout in her classroom and how she felt a little out of place, I could identify with that . In those days of her life, she felt a period of unrelieved boredom in her life. The system did not really teach much and she struggled to find meaning in it. Yet what gave her great joy and excitement was the adventures that they had when they traveled by Boo's house and found different gifts given to them by a stranger-the tin foil, the watch, the soap dolls and ball of twine which continued until they were plastered up. They were gifts from Boo who showed a bit of understanding of travelers who passed outside his window as Dill and Scout and Jem walked home from school. The same kind ofgifts one gets as a child are precious when given by his mom in a living room-ones that live to this day. The same type of gifts of understanding that saved Scout and her brother Jem when confronted that halloween evening when Boo came out and protected them.
Gifts of meaning one receives to then pass onto others. For Boo to briefly come out and help friends he barely knew except in spirit that halloween evening. Yet inside his soul, he seemed to understand the meaning of life. One that can puzzle and perplex us. To have the urge to rush to the back of the puzzle book to find some answer, Yet the answer is for us to search for it and find the small tokens and gestures in life that get us through it each and every day. From people we least expect to give them to us.
Happy 11th Birthday Little Chick
2 months ago