I actually read To Kill a Mockingbird earlier this year (post here) so I’m not rereading it, and yes, I know it was the movie not the book that was referenced in last week’s episode “The Cost of Living,” but either way, I thought I’d post my thoughts on how it intersects with Lost.
The mention is brief. Juliet wheels a TV up to the aquarium where Jack is being held prisoner and tells him she’s going to show him a movie: To Kill a Mockingbird. She then goes on to explain to Jack why he needs to save Ben who is a great man and will die if Jack doesn’t operate, but on the TV screen there is no To Kill a Mockingbird. Instead we see Juliet holding signs telling Jack that Ben is a dangerous liar and asking him to botch the surgery and kill Ben.
Part of me suspects that this is yet another one of the cons psychological tests that the others perform on the survivors. Still, why To Kill a Mockingbird? Briefly, it’s about two children who watch their father Atticus Finch stand up to the prejudices in their small southern town by defending a black man who is accused of raping a white woman. The events leading up to and surrounding the trial effectively bring an end to the youthful innocence of the two kids.
In the book, Atticus tells his son Jem that it is a sin to kill mockingbirds because they are themselves harmless and innocent creatures. Throughout the book we see a variety of ‘mockingbirds’ – innocent people destroyed (or almost destroyed) by evil: Tom Robinson, Boo Radley, Jem and Scout Finch.
This keeps bringing me back to the whole question of whether or not the others are good people. Is it possible that Juliet is evil and Ben is as good as he claims to be, just an innocent mockingbird who only beats the crap out of people like Sawyer when he has to? Of course the book also reminds us that everyone carries the capacity for both good and evil.
Which brings us to prejudice, the central problem in To Kill a Mockingbird. Are the writers asking us to reconsider any prejudices that we viewers may harbor against the others? Should we take Atticus’s advice to Scout and not judge a man until we’ve walked around in his skin for a little while? Or at least enjoyed an episode featuring his flashbacks?
As with the blacks and whites of Maycomb County there are tensions between the survivors and the others, tensions that may stem mainly from a lack of understanding. Is the conflict between the survivors and the others based mainly on mutual fear and ignorance?
Jack, like Atticus, is a professional man who must decide to take on an unpopular case. When Atticus chose to defend a black man – and really defend him – he made a very unpopular decision that turned many of his own people (the white folk of Maycomb County) against him, but his belief in the constitution and the equality of all men gave him no choice but to do the right thing, despite this being a dangerous decision for him and his children.
Will Jack follow the path of Atticus Finch and save the life of the man who is holding him prisoner, or will Jack betray his Hippocratic oath and kill Ben for Juliet? Apparently, we’ll find out more in tonight’s episode, “I Do.”
I think Jack will operate and save Ben. He’s too principled not to. I don’t think he’ll kill this mockingbird.
Now the big question is who is the island’s Boo Radley? Who is hidden away from sight, feared and misunderstood by all, but secretly coming out of the basement as it were to help the survivors and save them from evil? Could it be the smoke monster? I wonder if the visions – that always seem to help the survivors find what they need, be it inner peace or clean water – might be the smoke monster.
I wonder if the smoke monster also protects the survivors by showing up out of nowhere, just like Boo Radley, to open up a can of whupass when needed such as that opened up on Mr Eko who turned out to be not quite as good as he appeared.
Smoke monster as Boo Radley? It may be a reach, but why not?