Today, I was re-reading the final chapters of “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee. I used to teach the book every single year, but we rolled it off the freshmen curriculum for about a decade. We recently brought it back, and it has been an interesting experience for me to re-read it with a decade more of life experience. For all you Southerners (who I am sure love the book, too!), it is my favorite book in the entire world—other than the Bible, of course!
I thought I would share part of chapter 11 with all of you. For those of you who have read the book (which is probably most of you!), there is a chapter where Jem wreaks havoc on old Mrs. Dubose’s flowers because she insults Atticus, Jem’s father, for defending a black man accused of raping a white woman in 1935. Atticus is right to defend Tom Robinson because he is innocent.
Mrs. Dubose dies at the end of the chapter after a long battle with morphine addiction. As part of his punishment for ruining her camellia flowers, Atticus makes Jem read to her for over the month. During that time, Mrs. Dubose withdraws from the morphine, going through a TREMENDOUS struggle, like we all are against Lyme and Morgellons.
After her death, Atticus tells Jem, “She said she was going to leave this world beholden to nothing and nobody. Jem, when you’re sick as she was, it’s all right to take anything to make it easier, but it wasn’t all right for her. She said she meant to break herself of it before she died, and that’s what she did” (Lee 128).
Now, lest any of you think I am being morbid or suggesting that anyone is going to die, that’s not why I posted this at all! I posted it because Mrs. Dubose represents courage in the novel. In fact, Atticus also tells Jem that Mrs. Dubose “is the bravest person [he] ever knew” (128).
I think all of us are like Mrs. Dubose. We have this seemingly insurmountable obstacle, yet we do everything we can possibly imagine to fight it...each in his or her own way, each at his or her own pace. I truly believe that if we just keep plugging along, we will no longer be “beholden” to these toxic diseases. We just need to be brave and fight, regardless of how hard it is on any given day. I can be the biggest baby in the universe, but when it comes right down to it, I don’t want to lose this battle. Every time I want to give up, I think of Mrs. Dubose. She wasn’t a perfect person (in fact, she’s downright mean to the Finch family in the book!), but there was a goodness in her. She leaves Jem a perfect camellia that had regrown in her yard. Although Jem at first thinks it is Mrs. Dubose’s way of getting the last word, I think Atticus is right when he says to his son, “I think that was her way of telling you—everything’s all right now, Jem, everything’s all right. You know, she was a great lady” (128).
One of my students (I have a really bright group of freshmen this semester) looked up camellias, and apparently, that particular flower can represent courage. This post is my camellia to all of you.
BE BRAVE. DON’T GIVE UP. EVERYTHING’S ALL RIGHT. GOD HAS THIS.
With much sincerely and love,
I just love the quote that you shared with me, about how the years that were stolen by the locusts will be restored. I fervently hope that is the case! I know God is preparing me for something else through this tremendous trial. I wish, though, (pretty often!) that he had chosen something else other than this! LOL!
Thank you for your complements about my writing and posts. Some day, I hope to write a book about something. I just don’t have the energy to do that right now. That is definitely a retirement goal!
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