While reading To Kill a Mockingbird I can always hear Mary Badham’s sweet, singsong “Atti-cus!” running through every line- Gregory Peck shows up in character on every page. I came to the book from watching the odd scene or two from the movie and the gulping, hydrophobic dog scene or the last scenes with Boo Radley, Scout uncomfortably attired as a ham- were as familiar to me as if I’d read those pages already.
What was a revelation to me was Harper Lee’s writing. A movie can’t quote pages from a book which is a pity but the actors made up for any sense of a lack and pre-empted those of us with a desire to gripe. Lee’s observations and pronouncements, stated in weighty vocabulary and in a charmingly deliberate rhythm – sitting in the mouth of a seven year old – become wildly hilarious and come extremely alive when wrapped around play yard and school yard incidents. Blissfully unhampered by a need to maintain a social equilibrium, Scout pieces together an unsentimental jig saw of her world, organising it along a personal axis of fair and unfair. You notice that she jealously maintains her right to do so. One more way that Atticus becomes a hero is because he helps her maintain her right.