Mockingbirds Us All

I don’t think we could forget where we were or how we felt on that tragic day. I was teaching freshmen English. I walked into my first period class and some of the students were talking about a plane hitting a building in New York City. I went directly to the computer to find out what they were talking about. I turned on the television and we watched the coverage.

I still remember that we were to discuss chapter 10 of To Kill a Mockingbird. This is the chapter where Atticus Finch tells his daughter, Scout, that it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. The maid, Calpurnia, goes on to further explain to Scout that, “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy…but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

This is our first glimpse behind the meaning of the title as well as an ongoing metaphor throughout the book. I didn’t realize in that moment how those terrible events went hand-in-hand with the words of Harper Lee. Her book’s message is as relevant now as it was in the 1960’s. The idea of “mockingbirds” as good, innocent people destroyed by evil is a fitting analogy to the events of September 11, 2001.

The world was forever changed by these selfish, evil acts. And as a result, we are all mockingbirds.

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2 Comments
  • Whitney Martin
    September 11, 2011

    beautiful! still need to read that book!

  • Leah Travels
    September 11, 2011

    I think it should be required reading for every person in the world. Although, on the surface, it is a story of black/white racism during the Depression in Alabama, it trancends time and speaks to all forms of prejudice. Harper Lee was brilliant at illustrating how stupid adults can be by showing our behavior through children’s eyes. It just goes to show that prejudice is a learned behavior. You’ve got to read it! It’s my favorite book in the whole wide world.

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