Remembering Harper Lee
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”- To Kill a Mockingbird (Atticus Finch)
Nelle Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, passed away on February 19, 2016 in her home at the age 89. The beloved author known as Harper Lee, brought to life characters that shed light on the depth and range of human emotions and behavior. Described as “compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving,” To Kill a Mockingbird is known as a masterpiece of American literature and a work that takes readers on a journey through a coming-of-age story that explores the lost of childhood innocence through adult experiences.
Through the eyes of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, Harper Lee brought a story that explored human behavior in a town divided by racial tension and explored the power behind empathy and understanding. Lee brought to life characters like Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, Atticus Finch, Jem Finch and Scout Finch who warmed our hearts and provoked emotions as they navigated through the trails life presented before them.
More than just an author, Lee was a daughter, sister, friend and pen pal to people like Truman Capote and cartoonist Berkeley Breathed who described her as “witty, impish and loyal.” Born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama, Lee used a similar case involving her own father and members of her town as inspiration for the Pulitzer prize book, which also became an Oscar winning movie in. According to Diane Sawyer, To Kill a Mockingbird “served as a conscience for a nation” and taught us the lesson of empathy for our fellow countrymen.
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Before her passing, Lee published her highly anticipated second novel, Go Set a Watchman, after over fifty years since she last published. In the novel, we meet an adult Scout struggling with her values during a visit to her family in the South during the Civil Rights Movement amidst political turmoil and racial tensions.
The stories she wrote presented us with a challenge to look beyond ourselves and understand the issues others may face despite color, religion and circumstance.Her words through the narrative of Scout Finch will live on forever in our hearts.
By Brittany Fuller