With all the talk about whether or not Atticus of To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman fame, is a racist or not got me thinking. Why is to so hard when our fictional heroes have feet of clay.
Atticus is a hero that seems to have fallen, but does he really? The Atticus in TKAM is almost to perfect. He is raising two young children, maybe a bit unconventionally, but they seem to be turning out okay. He then takes a stand between mob mentality and a innocent man and to be honest with you, everyone who has read the book wanted him as our father. Go ahead admit it, even it if was just a little bit.
So when word got out that Atticus was a racist, the literary word went nuts. Something they were all looking to celebrate, a new book by beloved Harper Lee, was quickly turned into cries of "how could she?" and "I am never going to read it." Why? Because a not perfect Atticus was almost more than most of them could handle.
Now let me insert this paragraph first - I don not agree with any of the racist statements in the book. I do understand they are written as a cultural thing from that time, but it doesn't make the thinking correct.
When a hero falters people struggle. Our heroes are not allowed to have faults and now a beloved father has one, a huge one and we don't know how to deal with it. That is why it is so hard when a fictional hero changes, we have only that one way of remembering them and when that changes it gives us pause and we must learn to like them differently. (and we do wonder why the author couldn't write them differently)
I am going to admit, I like this Atticus. Yup I know, isn't that awful? But this is a side of him I didn't expect, but it makes me wrestle with him. I love that, a character that I am uncomfortable with makes me learn things about myself and others. Atticus makes me look at why people believed the things they did.
Issues still separate us today. They always will. We always think we are right, but maybe once again Atticus is pointing us in the right direction, maybe we need to listen more to each other instead of just have a snap reaction and decided that person will be dead to us as Jean Louise did.
So no I don't think a hero died, but I think a hero has become more approachable.