There are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs



What do you make of that line?

I have long wished to forget my high school years in Switzerland of transient peers, shallow friendships and the dissipation of community at the end of a long learning day. But I remembered a teacher asking me that question. To Kill A Mockingbird was a set text for my IGCSE examination. I revisited it after a recent chat with a friend. And like any classic, it is universal but of its place. It does not dumb us down but sparks evolution. It ties a contract between the living, the present and the yet to be born.

A scout is a soldier or other person sent out ahead of a main force so as to gather information about the enemy’s position, strength, or movements. I don’t think the little girl’s name was an accident. The enemy in To Kill A Mockingbird is evil. I always found that the real battle in the story was between Atticus Finch and Bob Ewell.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

My sister and I have discussed this quote from John the Baptist. She went further, wondering if darkness does not even understand light, is afraid of it and so tries at every turn to extinguish it. We have discussed that good and evil are innate in humans and so must be wrestled with, choices must be carefully considered each day. It’s why humility is counselled in Buddhism and Christianity. Bob Ewell and his daughter ‘win’ the court case but it isn’t enough is it? Like Rumpelstiltskin, when you tell the compromised and dammed soul who they are, they respond with rage. Atticus is an exorcisor of demons.

There are two notable scenes of foreshadowing in To Kill A Mockingbird. The first outside Tom Robinson’s house

Ewell is drunk of course. There is nothing like alcohol to bring out toxicity, overreach and projection.

“He’s all bluff,” Atticus says

He’s wrong about this as we discover later.

The second scene is with the rabid dog.

Shall we feel sorry for the dog? Shall we give the dog a chance? Shall we say the dog didn’t mean it, he had a hard life? Is self defense wrong? Guns appear two times in To Kill A Mockingbird, not counting the ending when Tom Robinson is killed; to kill the rabid dog (an analogy) and to protect Tom Robinson from the mob. And yes, you need guns or weapons to do that. Not kind words. You need substance, not surface, to stand up to evil.

“All men are created equal,” Atticus tells the courtroom.

Created is the key word. Are Attiucs and Ewell equals? Would you say Ewell is equal to Atticus spiritually, emotionally and intellectually?

The war between good and evil is never over. Atticus tells his children that the rabid dog is just as dangerous dead as alive. What is alive can be dead and what is dead alive…evil just changes energy and form. That’s why you must be keen eyed, why you must keep watch. Is this why Harper Lee called her sequel Go Set A Watchman? This is how the book ends, with Atticus keeping vigil in his son’s bedroom all through the night.

Save your servant, let him find in you a fortified tower