Reply to Comments on Reconstructing Atticus Finch

Reconstructing Atticus Finch was intended to be provocative, so I am not surprised at the strength of the responses. Neither should I be surprised by the continuing reverence engendered by the fictional Atticus Finch; as I pointed out in my original essay, he is our moral archetype. Indeed, it was the accepted nobility of the character that made my question worth asking in the first place. What if Mayella had been attacked by Tom Robinson? Would Atticus still be a hero? To ask that question about a lesser figure would inevitably invite stock responses. Champions of the adversary system would support the defense; detractors would rail against it. I hoped to place the inquiry in a setting that would inspire a more textured debate, especially since it would be impossible to dismiss the efforts of Atticus Finch in the racially charged atmosphere of Depressionera Alabama.