A Light Goes Out
What did we learn from the life and work of Harper Lee, who departed this mortal coil on Friday at age 89?
The question, more accurately, is probably this: What did we not learn from Harper Lee? “To Kill a Mockingbird” taught (and still teaches) generations of Southerners about the power and change that One Decent Person can bring to our communities. “Go Set a Watchman” taught us that even those we idolize, those who seem purehearted in the continuing struggle for reconciliation, are often more complex and less worthy of idolatry than we might think.
With only two volumes published in her lifetime, she taught us as well as any writer has that the South is almost hopelessly confounding, difficult to figure out, full of dualities. Her spirit looms large over our region, and it will continue to. If we may be so bold to use the name Ms. Lee’s friends called her, we will say simply, “Rest in peace, Miss Nelle.”