(This post is really late due to some technical difficulties. It was actually written August 11.)
I finished “Go, Set A Watchman”, the latest publication of Harper Lee, over a week ago. I could have finished the week it came out, but I made myself not absorb it too fast. I wanted to cherish it. I knew it was the last of Harper Lee, even though we already thought we had read her last works. Turned out we were all wrong.
This book was delightful and tormenting all in one. I have held myself back from reading other reviews of this book so that I could write my own review without their influences. I did consult with my young friend to see what her opinion was, and we both saw things pretty much the same. First, Harper Lee’s writing totally amazes me. I wish I could use words the way she does. I totally was oblivious while reading that #1, the book was actually written prior “To Kill a Mockingbird” and #2, that it was written over 60 years ago. Based on many of the events mentioned, and the political happenings, you would think it was recently written.
The tormenting part of this book, is that our memories of “To Kill A Mockingbird” and the lessons learned from it, are all now clouded by our grown up knowledge discovered in “Go, Set A Watchman”. Scout, has grown up and when we all grow up we discover that the adults we love may not have exactly the same opinions as we do. In fact, what really happens, is that we develop our own opinions and when we discover they differ with others, it is sometimes hard to swallow. I believe this is what happens to Scout. Many people have “spoiled” the ending of the book, by saying Atticus, is prejudice. I read this book and did not find deep prejudice on his part, but rather a hesitancy to change. I believe the character of a person is observed by their actions, not only their words. I do not want to give anything away, I want you to read the book and decide for yourself. What you will discover however, is the same struggle that we still deal with today: how far should “outsiders” be allowed to go to change the culture of another community? This is a troublesome question. Sometimes the “outsiders” are protestors from another region, sometimes it is an organization from another community and sometimes it is the state or federal government. It is an age old problem, and I see both sides of the argument. It is easy to be one side for one issue and the other side for a different issue. This is what is amazing about Harper Lee! She articulates this struggle through the dialogue of these intriguing characters. Is it from the 1950’s, or 2015?
Both, my young friend and I agree, we would recommend the book highly and we would always recommend you read “To Kill A Mockingbird” first and then “Go, Set A Watchman” even though they were written in the reverse order.
I still identify with the character of Scout; I always have. She was sad that her Maycomb was changing, I am sad that kids will be required to read “To Kill A Mockingbird” and before the lessons of it will ever have time to sink in, they will be required to read, “Go, Set A Watchman” and the lessons may be lost forever.
Have you read the book? Tell me your thoughts.