Article in brief: the author gives us her review about Harper Lee’s newly published book “Go Set A Watchman”, and why the agrees with the reviews already published about it.
The literary world went into frenzy upon the announcement of the discovery of the manuscript. Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman is considered to be a sequel to her To Kill A Mockingbird. However, it is actually the first draft that had brought To Kill A Mockingbird to life. Ever since its publication in July 2015 Go Set A Watchman has been fuelling the debate of whether it deserved to be published or not.
The novel is written in third person narrative. It still follows the story of Scout who now goes by her real name Jean-Louis Finch. The setting of Go Set A Watchman takes place twenty years after the events of To Kill A Mockingbird, where Jean-Louis Finch now lives in New York.
“Not the question of whether snot-nosed niggers will go to school with your children or ride the front of the bus…” – Atticus Finch
Her father Atticus Finch, the hero of To Kill A Mockingbird, is now a seventy-two years old man. As the novel progresses Atticus reveals himself to be a racist and a bigot, which is the complete opposite of what his character was in To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee portrayed him to be a hero, readers have admired for his integrity in standing up for a black man who was wrongly accused of rape. When it comes to this, I believe Atticus Finch has never been the great honourable man we think he was. Since To Kill A Mockingbird was written through the perspective of a six-year-old, maybe that’s only how Jean-Louis saw her father, but not how he really was.
“The one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trust had failed her; the only man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge, “He is a gentleman, in his heart he is a gentleman,” Had betrayed her, publicly, grossly, and shamelessly.”
Like its preceding piece, this novel discussed the theme of racism too. But this time, the author portrayed Atticus Finch to be outwardly racist who believes black people should not be allowed to have civil rights just yet. “Now think about this, what would happen if all the Negroes in the south were suddenly given full civil rights? I’ll tell you. There’d be another Reconstruction. Would you want your state governments run by people who don’t know how to run’em? Do you want this town run by-now wait a minute- Willoughby’s a crook, we know that, but do you know of any Negro who knows as much as Willoughby? Zeebo’d probably be Mayor of Maycomb. Would you want someone of Zeebo’s capability to handle the town’s money? We’re outnumbered, you know?”-Atticus Finch.
The novel has also seemed to go around the theme of sexism and this appears at the beginning of the novel when Henry Clinton, Jean-Louis’s alleged suitor, advises her on how to behave around men in order to seem pleasant. “Hold your tongue. Don’t argue with a man, especially when you know you can beat him. Smile a lot. Make him feel big. Tell him how wonderful he is, and wait on him” –Henry Clinton.
I need to be honest and add my voice to those who believe Go Set A Watchman should not have been published. I did not like this novel or its characters. Throughout the novel none of the characters developed and they all seemed one-dimensional. I have found them to be unmemorable and underdeveloped. The book left me confused and at times I avoided my reading times because I was not enjoying it as much as To Kill A Mockingbird, this made me wonder why this piece wasn’t as well edited as Harper Lee’s first novel. I now understand why Harper Lee’s agent discarded this piece, and can sympathise with that decision.
Maitha Almuhairi (@Maithani)
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