I’m a little slow to add my voice to the national conversation about Harper Lee’s book, Go Set a Watchman, but I finished reading it last week and want to comment on the book.
Some people are afraid Atticus Finch will fall off his pedestal if they read Go Set a Watchman. They refuse to read it because they’ve heard that Atticus turned out to be a racist. Ironically, those people are a bit like Scout. In To Kill a Mockingbird, little Scout idolized her father. He was her world after her mother died when she was a toddler. Atticus was an astute trial lawyer and a wise father. In Scout’s eyes, he could do no wrong. When the young adult Scout came home from New York on the cusp of the Civil Rights Movement, she discovered that Atticus was human. I urge readers who loved the Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird to read Go Set a Watchman. It is another literary masterpiece by Harper Lee. You will struggle along with Scout as you and she discover that Atticus is human.
I’ve heard it said that Harper Lee’s editor read the Go Set a Watchman manuscript and advised Ms. Lee to write a book about Scout’s childhood because she wanted to know about that. That might be true, but I have a hunch that Ms. Lee’s editor sensed that America was not ready for Go Set a Watchman. Times were volatile, and Go Set A Watchman could have been an incendiary book at the time it was written. Perhaps it worked out for the best that we were made to wait until 2015 to read and savor it.
Now I hope someone finds another unpublished manuscript by Harper Lee. Wouldn’t that be a treat?