Go Set a Watchman

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Go Set A WatchmanGo Set A Watchman, the most controversial book of the summer. Do you read it? Do you agree with it being published? Do you hate Atticus now? I have read so many different articles on it & I can see multiple sides of the story.

I like keeping up with controversy and To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite books.

Of course I had to read Go Set A Watchman.

Back Story – What Is Go Set a Watchman?

If you have never read To Kill a Mockingbird, drop everything and go pick up a copy of it. One of the greatest stories of friendship, race and growing up in the south around the time of the Great Depression. It was the only book ever published by Harper Lee & it was a Pulitzer Prize winning book.

Initially Go Set A Watchman was announced as the sequel of To Kill a Mockingbird. As more and more was released about it, it came to be known that it was actually written prior to To Kill a Mockingbird. The book is not actually a sequel but the first draft submitted to the publishers. From what I have read in various articles, they encouraged Harper Lee to write the story from a child’s perspective so she rewrote it and Go Set A Watchman became To Kill a Mockingbird.

The characters are similar, although some of the main characters of each book are not in both books. There was

The Controversy

If you haven’t heard by now, the book was never supposed to be published according to those who know Harper Lee. After rewriting it into To Kill a Mockingbird, the text for Go Set a Watchman got set aside & was never really thought of again. It is, of course, a draft. While Harper Lee is still alive, it is rumored that she is in a nursing home and not coherent enough to manage her affairs. Those who are “found” the draft and have submitted it for publishing.

Should it have been published? Should it not have been published? The debate is large and everyone has an opinion.

My Thoughts

To Kill a Mockingbird is a book that I love. It is a book that young adults can understand but at the same time it addresses real adult issues. At the time it was written race was even more of a hot debate than it is today. Harper Lee does a wonderful job addressing the issue of race, especially from an innocent child’s perspective.

Go Set A Watchman, on the other hand, felt more like a love novel than a race novel to me. From the minute the book kicks off with Jean Louise (formerly known as Scout) we learn about her history with Henry (Hank). Dil, our favorite romantic interest of Scout’s from To Kill a Mockingbird is only referenced one time in a short few paragraphs. Henry is set to take over the law firm when Atticus can no longer run it.

As Jean Louise remembers old times, she is faced with the challenge of a changing world, especially in the south. Living in New York has made her more open to new ideas but not at all what she expected when it came to returning home.

Parts of the book made me sad as some of my favorite characters from To Kill a Mockingbird barely existed or didn’t exist at all. Boo Radley played such a huge part of To Kill a Mockingbird but was non-existant in Go Set a Watchman. Those moments really made it clear to me that this is not a sequel at all, it clearly is a draft of what became one of the best novels of the century. Dil was also one of my favorite characters and he was off in Italy throughout the book. I almost found myself disliking Henry since I always thought Scout should marry Dil.

While I missed some of my favorite characters I really loved seeing the original story that became To Kill a Mockingbird. I can see how it was never published in the first place as it was not the great race novel that she had intended to write.

As you read through it, I believe the most important thing to keep in mind is that it is not a sequel, but a draft. The characters have different flaws, they are are not necessarily the characters they were developed into during To Kill a Mockingbird. While you can consider it part of the To Kill a Mockingbird family, it clearly is not written to be a sequel. Keeping all of that in mind will help keep things in perspective and too much disappointment in the characters.

What are your thoughts? Should it have been published?

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

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