Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee (SPOILERS AHEAD)

GSAW1.From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning master piece, To Kill a Mockingbird

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her ageing father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bitter sweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a MockingbirdGo Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that can be guided only by one’s own conscience.

This book is different from To Kill a Mockingbird, and I expected it so. This was set two decades after TKaM, in a time where the Civil Rights movement was reaching its climax, and Jean Louise “Scout” Finch is all grown up – and yet she still remains the character we came to know and love int TKaM. While, Atticus Finch, our moral educator in TKaM, is now 72-years-old and as before is still a man who abides by the law – but our image of him has slightly (or completely, depending on how you see it) from his image in TKaM.

In this novel, we learn more about Uncle Jack (Dr. Finch) and how he is Jean Louise’s confidant and of Atticus true nature as well. We also learn more about Jean Louise’s mother and how she had passed to Jem what had killed her when Scout was only two, which ultimately killed Jem as well. I enjoyed the flashbacks to her childhood, the events that transpired between TKaM and Go Set a Watchman, and the times when Dill came to Maycomb for the summer. You will miss Jem and Dill’s characters, as they were two of the primary characters in TKaM – but they still appear in the flashbacks as I’ve said, after all these flashbacks are what inspired (lead to) the creation of TKaM.

We witness Scout growing in maturity, and instead of seeing the circumstances in the South through the eyes of a six-years-old girl, we see it through the eyes of an adult Scout who is two decades older. We witness the ugly truths surrounding the Deep South in the mid-1950s, during the time when African-Americans were seeking civil rights. How southerners, like the people in Maycomb, Alabama, wanted to preserve their “old ways”.

This book is about how Jean Louise changed (“killed”)her image of her father that she has created – the one where Atticus could do no wrong, and seeing him for what he really is, just a man like any other. It does come as a shock when you realise how different Atticus Finch is from the TKaM, but he is still the same Atticus, by no means has he changed or transformed, we’re just seeing a new side of him. He is imperfect like the rest of us. He is the perfect example to show that even “heroes” have their flaws, and this goes with everyone else. No one in this world has been born perfect. So who are we to judge his choices and actions? Jean Louise, on the other hand, grows in maturity and independence, as she becomes her own person and not an individual fashioned from her image of Atticus (admitting she asks herself “what would Atticus say/do?”).

This book I’ve enjoyed reading and the links between Go Set a Watchman and To Kill a Mockingbird was interesting since it is the form of a flash backs, from Scout’s memories. It’s a great book because there are lessons to be learned from it, such as the fact that sometimes the people whom we thought we knew well still have their own secrets, or that everyone is just the same and that no one is perfect.

I highly recommend this book,

_ _ _ _nielle


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