"As you grow older, you'll see white men cheat black men every day of your life, but let me tell you something and don't you forget it - whenever a white man does that to a black man, no matter who he is, how rich he is, or how fine a family he comes from, that white man is trash."
~ Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, 1960
It surprises me how many people have asked us where we dreamed up Atticus for George's middle name. In my life I have only ever heard of one Atticus, and he was unmistakable as one of the greatest fictional characters ever written. I wonder, didn't these people have to read To Kill a Mockingbird in school? Granted some of them are our parents' ages and this novel probably wasn't part of the educational curriculum during their school days, but it never ceases to amaze me when one of my own contemporaries asks me quizzically, "Atticus? Never heard of that." What I want to say is that TKAM is a classic novel by a one-time author who captured a coming-of-age story alongside a moving drama about racism, classism, and the people who have worked to overcome these problems. Atticus was the protagonist of the plot and his character embodied a number of admirable qualities. He was an unorthodox father, a champion of human rights, and a fountain of dry humor. What I instead say to these people is, "It's from To Kill a Mockingbird." You should read it."
After finishing my most recent re-reading of the book late last night, I found this article about the true manliness of Atticus on-line and thought I would share. I hope that my boys grow up embodying many, many of the qualities of Atticus Finch; and for George, I hope that his middle name is a reminder to him that he can make a difference in this world, even if he must do it in the face of a blind majority.
(I know I said my next post was going to be about the state of women, but I just had to sneak this one in.)