It’s All in How You Phrase It

Do you ever get so attached to the characters you’re reading about that you begin to care for them as if they were real people?  Recently I was listening to the audiobook versionaudio cover of To Kill a Mockingbird and inadvertently created a plot twist that did not exist.  I must admit, I was quite devastated until I realized I was mistaken.

To Kill a Mockingbird is narrated by 8-year-old Jean Louise, called Scout, over the course of several years including the time when her father Atticus, a lawyer, defended a black man who is charged with committing a crime against a white woman in Alabama.  Scout and her older brother Jem watch this trial from the balcony and after the verdict is read, their father whispers to the defendant and a few other people in the courtroom and then leaves the building quickly.

The chapter ends with the pastor sitting with the children saying, “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passin’ .”

My reaction to this chapter ending is: “WHAT?!?  He’s dying!?!”

The next chapter begins with Jem crying.  Of course, this is one of those occasions where I’m limited on time and must stop listening right at this moment.  In my rush to be on time to my next scheduled event, I leapt to the conclusion that this is a euphemism for death.

Over the course of the next several hours, I’m completely distracted by this turn of events, and I am deeply disturbed as I try to wrap my mind around what this will mean for Scout and Jem.  Only to find when I begin listening again, that I have misunderstood and Atticus is still alive and quite healthy.  I felt quite silly.

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Scout, Atticus, and Jem as depicted in the 1963 film “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Have you ever gotten so wrapped up in a book that you felt emotionally invested in the characters?

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