Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

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‘Keep your friends close, your enemies closer’……   *****

Racism is alive and well in this country. It may be subtle, or not, but it lies just beneath the surface, ready to rear its ugly head. The term racist has been applied to Atticus Finch in this book and the reversal of how he is portrayed in To Kill A Mockingbird has some people upset. In my opinion, they have misunderstood both books.

In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus is asked by his maid, Calpurnia, to talk to Tom Robinson, who has been accused of raping a white woman. After talking to him, Atticus believes he is innocent and agrees to defend him. This decision is based not on being black or white, but seeing a man unjustly accused and who needs a good lawyer. While the town is upset about him defending a black man, for Atticus it is about justice and the law.

In Go Set A Watchman, Atticus is defending a way of life and the intrusion of the federal government. I may not agree with his view of how life should be, but again he sees it as defending justice and his view of the constitution.

To understand both books, we have to realize they are from the point of view of Jean Louise (Scout) and that she has a narrow and naive view of the world. Remember she thought letting a boy slip in his tongue when they kissed caused her to get pregnant. While growing up she was not aware of racial issues, things were just how they were. When she returns to her home as an adult and sees the change in everyone except herself, she cannot grasp what has happened. She does not understand the threat to a way of life the others feel.

This book is a revelation of how a lot of the South reacted to the enforcement of de-segregation when civil rights became the law of the land. The diatribe of Uncle Jack is worth the price of the book alone.  In an age where many would like to rewrite the past, this book is a reminder of how a people can justify the oppression of another.

Harper Lee has written a novel that speaks probably louder today than had it been published when she wrote it. This is a thought provoking, hopefully discussion starting, look into how we perceive each other, how embedded our beliefs can be, and how we need to listen to those with whom we may not agree. A happy ending, feel good novel it is not.

This one gets five full stars

 

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One thought on “Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

  1. I couldn’t agree more! It’s ridiculous that some people are giving this a one-star rating because of the “change” in Atticus Finch. There was no change at all if they had actually comprehended what Ms. Lee wrote. I don’t have a review site of my own, but I did review GSAW on Goodreads and Amazon. I, too, said that the trial of Tom Robinson in TKAM was for Atticus a matter of justice and the law.

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