Go Set a Watchman is a shady book. Since its publication in 2015, it has been drowned in controversy. It isn’t clear whether Harper Lee wanted it to be published, because she had maintained throughout her life that she will never publish another book. As a result, several Harper Lee fans have boycotted it. I was delighted to receive the book as a gift since I probably wouldn’t have read it otherwise. Before getting started, I wanted to quickly document my expectations from this book.
Even though the story is set chronologically a decade after To Kill a Mockingbird, the book itself was written earlier. It was rejected by the publisher and Mockingbird was born out of its ashes. Mockingbird, as we know, went on to become one of the most beloved American books of all time and its legendary protagonist, Atticus Finch, can be found on every list of inspiring literary characters (while Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Atticus features at the very top of the American Film Institute’s list of heroes). He has been become nothing short of a benchmark for human morality.
Therefore, it comes as a rude shock that Go Set a Watchman portrays Atticus as a bigot. This is all word of mouth though and I won’t be passing any judgement before reading the book myself. Nevertheless, I will be treating this Atticus as if he were a completely different character altogether. Knowing that Mockingbird is an revised and improved version of Watchman makes this task simpler. I wouldn’t want Atticus’ existing image to be tarnished in any way.
I am also expecting to get some insights into the mind of Harper Lee. It is quite possible that this is the original and imperfect story that she wanted to tell, but was forced to change it to a more ‘agreeable’ version later in order to fall in line with the expectation of the masses.
Here’s to page 1.