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, Vol. 97, No. 6, 1999 Survey of Books Related to the Law (May, 1999), pp. 1370-1372 Published by: The Michigan Law Review Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1290207 . Accessed: 18/12/2012 21:55
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J. But they have never questionedeither Tom'sclaim of innocence or the proprietyof Atticus's advocacy of that claim. LAWYERS AND THEIR COMMUNITIES: Finch?"2 Professor Lubet suggests we may - Professor Lubet has joined a growing list of revisionists who question Atticus's standingas the paragonof lawyerlyvirtue. see Symposium. 97 3.would have us believe they are. MICH. indeed. Reconstructing Atticus Finch. REV. "Whatif MayellaEwell [the accusingwitness] was telling the truth? What if she really was raped (or nearly raped) by Tom Robinson? What do we think then of Atticus indeed. 1339. the author. For a representative sampling of revisionist thinking.Ed. Washington & Lee.and Mayella's). They have even occasionally censured his paternalism towardhis pro bono client. 1979. Shaffer. 1340 (1999). To Kill a Mockingbird. B. Unreliablenarratorsand inconsistentperspectives are. and classism of the Depression-era South. L. See id. RASHOMON (RKO Radio Pictures.Pulitzer Prize and Academy Awards notwithstanding. the narrator.as. 1952). Yale. of course. 18 Dec 2012 21:55:12 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . but also arguably the most perceptive Atticus critic is Thomas L. sexism. He cites textual evidence in support of this admittedlynovel reading. both Scout.D. See THOMAS L. the pervasive racism. at 208-11.3but I can returnno better than a Scots' verdict: not proved.each plausi* Professor of Law.Tom's. 4. SHAFFER & MARY ETHICS IN THE LEGAL PROM. AMERICAN FESSION passim (1991).and Lee. perhapseven condoned. should 2. L. SHAFFER. My thanks to Stephanie Gamble for her comments on this response. there are not three accounts(Scout's. nor Tom so pure. 1. The earliest and most sympathetic. RECONSTRUCTING ATTICUS FINCH Rob Atkinson* interpret the story so that Mayella and her father are not so evil. nor Atticus so wise as they appear to be .4 Contraryto Lubet's suggestion. Steven Lubet. if not to a radicallynew level. 1982.A. Inc. Florida State University College of Law. he asks. To Kill a Mockingbird. REV. the working-class black rape defendant Tom Robinson.is no Rashomon. But Lee gives us no hint of Scout's being anythingother than right about Tom Robinson's innocence and Atticus's wisdom.COMMENT ON STEVEN LUBET. Early on. standardfeatures of sophisticatedfiction and film. 1370 This content downloaded on Tue. .' But ProfessorLubet takes revisionismin a distinctlypostmoderndirection. 45 ALA. Professor Lubet questions both. 389 (1994). Atticus's previous critics have wonderedhow he could have overlooked.
If Lubet were right . of course. See Lubet. each revealed to us for precisely what it is by a virtuallyomniscient.6 If we cannot believe the characters as they appearin the story. post-modern.more properlyspeaking. for so long.10But we are the ones who have included her story in our canon and who continue to work and worshipAtticus's golden indeed.glasses-wearing but (literally!) straight-shooting father-who-knows-best. less postmodern criticism. is a very differentapproach.to better fit our take on normativeand descriptivereality external to the story. Tom. to believe in something so childishlysimplistic: a satisfied. if not indifferent to. Lawyers and Liberation: Diverging Parallels in To Kill a Mockingbird and Intruder in the Dust. classics-reading. all in open court. See Rob Atkinson. See Lubet. In moments of more conventional.have been so willing. and Mayella as "didactic characters. if they strike us as stock figuresor stereotypes. as it is of us. See id. Professor Lubet's answer to such text-based skepticism about Mayella'stestimonyis an invitationto rewritethe book in the name of "responsible reading. at 1341-45. Id. I suspect - bly vying for the reader's credence. 49 DUKE L." unbound by. particularlya legal culture. (forthcoming Dec. as a culture. 18 Dec 2012 21:55:12 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Lubet says that readers overlook the flaws in Lee's 5.subservientBlack . at 1355. almost stick-figures"). seems a thinly veiled stand-infor Lee herself. Let's take the story My preference8 on its own terms and wonder why we.if there were even any question on either point . Harper Lee has given us the Gospel According to Atticus in the words of his chief disciple. 8.literally and figuratively a "Tom" . 11. 7. 10. Tom's truth and Mayella'slie. as ProfessorLubet implies. at 1346. ("We know. This content downloaded on Tue. 9. Scout. supra note 2.7then we should revise the story to suit ourselves. at 1355 (describing Atticus. I deeply share the "postmodern" doubt that I can invoke any objective standard dispositively to prove my approach is better than Professor Lubet's.I am emphaticallynot among them.").May 1999] Responses 1371 image.5 There are only two.9 And that isn't as much a criticismof its characters.if Tom were guilty or Atticus mistaken. 1999). That approachmay have many modern. But it isn't. only to be rescued by a rusticating. or even their creator. what Harper Lee intended. aesthetically or ethically. and the flaws in Tom's defense are really just weaknesses in the author's storytelling. I choose "my preference" for the full force of its subjectivity.Harper Lee's open love letter to her father would be a much more complex and morally challengingbook.J. 6. supra note 2.defenders.is abused by congenitally and incorrigiblyevil white trash. I have argued at length11 that we polish that image so earnestlybecause we see ourselvesreflectedin it so exactly. at 1346. See id.firmbut fair father throughthe eyes of an innocent child. Lubet himself says as much. the author's obvious intent.
See id.15 12. at 1355. But whatif by reflecting Atticusis not an icon?"). This content downloaded on Tue. too.13 As ProfessorLubet points out." Mark6:4 (KingJames).97:1370 narrativebecause they "are anxiousfor Tom'svindication. Lubet makes almost preciselythis point at the outset. Harper Lee knew her audience well. See Lubet. at 1340 ("So Atticus Finchsavesus by providing a moralarchetype. Lubet.. John 4:44.1372 Michigan Law Review [Vol.. and thus vindicate us.the fault lies not in our star. 13:57. and amonghis own kin.supranote 2.and they are seldom as loved in their own countries."A prophetis not withouthonour. True prophets seldom present as lovely an image of their compatriots. nobilityuponus .but we are the readers.and we are also anxiousthat our role model do the vindicating."12 True enough .supranote 2.14 the makers and marketers of icons invariablydo. and in his own house. To paraphrase Cassiusin The Tragedy (and pun) Shakespeare's of JuliusCaesar.but in his own counsee also Matthew try. only to subordinateit to his theme that Atticus may not "really" be as good as he seems. 18 Dec 2012 21:55:12 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . at 1355. 15. In the wordsof the Gospels. 13.but in ourselves. 14..
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