Atticus Finch is racist? There’s a twist no one saw coming.
Especially all the parents who were inspired by Finch — up to now, one of the most beloved characters in 20th-century American fiction — to call their sons Atticus, a name that has become quite trendy:
- 2014: 846 baby boys named Atticus [ranked 370th]
- 2013: 733 baby boys named Atticus [ranked 404th]
- 2012: 709 baby boys named Atticus [ranked 409th]
- 2011: 577 baby boys named Atticus [ranked 461st]
- 2010: 450 baby boys named Atticus [ranked 561st]
Bounding up the U.S. charts over the last decade, Atticus entered the top 1,000 in 2004 and the top 500 in 2011.
Then, last week, Go Set a Watchman was released. In Harper Lee’s Mockingbird sequel, Atticus makes racist comments, reads racist pamphlets, even attends a KKK meeting.
On a societal level, this could be a good thing. I like this quote from Laurel Raymond’s Goodbye And Good Riddance To Atticus Finch And Other ‘White Saviors’:
Atticus Finch — and Gregory Peck’s Oscar-winning portrayal of him — is the quintessential white savior. But the trouble with white saviors is that the story is not about those whom they’re saving. It’s about themselves.
But for the hundreds of young people who’ve been named Atticus in the last few years (and for their parents) this was an unexpected and unwelcome turn of events.
(It’s a good reminder, though, that any baby name strongly associated with just one thing — a person, a character, an entity, etc. — is a risk.)
The year is half over, but sales of Watchman are through the roof, so…what do you think will happen to usage of the baby name Atticus in 2015? Will the rise continue, but at a slower rate? Will usage level off? Will usage turn around and begin to decrease? (Could Atticus become this decade’s Hillary?)