Southern Paradoxes in Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird”

Every time I read Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird (1960), I’m reminded of the book’s problematic nature. Why do we continue to put so much stock in Lee’s novel, teaching it in high schools across the nation? Alice Randall points out the problems within Lee’s novel and states, “Let’s be clear: “To Kill a Mockingbird” is not a children’s book. It is an adult fairy tale, that is often read by children in wildly different — and sometimes profoundly damaging — ways.” She continues by noting Tom Robinson’s lack of agency, the use of derogatory terms, and the main crux of the novel, Mayella Ewell’s lies about her rape.

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How Do I Respond to “Where Are You From?”

Last year, in Norway, everyone I met would ask, “Where are you from?” This year, in Georgia, I get the same question. My answer to this question inevitably varies, but it follows a pretty similar formula. In Norway, I would reply, “I’m from Auburn, Alabama. I’ve been there two years. Before that, I was in Lafayette, Louisiana, and I’m originally from Northwest Louisiana.” In Georgia, I typically add, “Last year I was in Norway.” I’ve written about this question and my response before when I looked at “unhoming” in Lucy Knisely’s An Age of License . Today, I want to expand on that discussion some, looking at Sui Sin Far’s Leaves from the Mental Portfolio of a Eurasian.

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The “Visceral Feelings” of Racism in Frank Yerby’s “Griffin’s Way”

Throughout his career, Frank Yerby confronted whiteness and white supremacy in his novels. He looked at the ways that racism, xenophobia, nationalism, and oppression affected the oppressor as well as the oppressed. This is what Lillian Smith does throughout her work. It’s what Harper Lee attempts to do in To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s what Toni Morrison says we should do in Playing in the Dark. Yerby does this from the outset of his novel-writing career with Stephen Fox, showing the ways that Stephen’s ideas and perceptions on race change. He shows the transmission of racist thought through Stephen’s son Etienne, a characters that buys wholeheartedly into the myth of his own superiority.

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