I just finished Go Set A Watchman. I know, I know – I’m very behind. I mean, who’s TBR pile is anything shy of a lifetime supply of reading material? Don’t lie to me. The hardest part is figuring out what to read next. I’m going to write a review here and on my Goodreads page. Check it out!
To start off, I have to say that I’m not an avid reader of the classics. I’ve tried Jane Austen and gotten unbelievably bored. I hope you don’t think this is because I think the writing is bad, because she was a very talented writer for her time; I just can’t get into that style of literature. I mostly stick to new stuff. I’m a big fan of Jodi Picoult, Veronica Roth, J.K. Rowling, etc. I did read some Rudyard Kipling and plan to read more, though. I’m a collector of antique books, and I found two poetry/short story collections by Kipling that I can’t wait to dig into.
Anyway, Go Set A Watchman was incredible. I was a little afraid to read this, because sometimes sequels can be just that: sequels. They don’t always complement the series, and they don’t always tell their own story. I think a good sequel should do both. I love that this particular book was a sequel in that it followed the story line of To Kill A Mockingbird, yet it told a whole new story. I actually read that Watchman was originally the first book Harper Lee wrote, but that it was turned down by publishers. It’s a great book when following the story of Mockingbird, but I don’t think I would have enjoyed it as much on its own.
I tend to have a more positive response to things than most people, and I’ve read some pretty nasty reviews of this book. I don’t hate Atticus for the way he is. TKAM made Atticus out to be a good person among a world of bad people, and GSAW made him out to be just as prejudice as the next guy. However, thinking back on Mockingbird, his case with Tom Robinson was court appointed; he didn’t run out offering to defend Tom. It is said in Watchman that Atticus defended Tom all those years ago because he knew that Tom did not commit the crime he was being accused of, not because of his race. It was a matter of justice and nothing to do with the color of anyone’s skin.
GSAW is mostly made up of flashbacks, of Scout reminiscing on her younger years when she, Jem, and Atticus were a trio. Now that Jean Louise has grown up and moved away she doesn’t have those moments with her family nearly enough. She lives by herself in an apartment in New York, and she has adjusted to city life so much that being back in the South is trying for her. There is not as much prejudice and one-track-mindedness in New York. Jean Louise feels that she can be her true self in New York, and not the person everyone in Maycomb expects her to be. She has gotten away from the name she has in her hometown.
The climax of the story is her argument with her father. Jean Louise overhears her father saying things that she doesn’t agree with, things that she would never have expected to hear. She comes to believe that Atticus is racist, and she starts to think (very abruptly) that her father tricked her into thinking he was someone he was not. To keep a long argument short, she approaches Atticus with her thoughts and gets more upset when she does not get a rise out of him. I won’t give away the ending of the book, but you all know how Atticus is: very laid back and compliant.
You can imagine how this argument went. 🙂
Thanks for reading!