I only finished Harper Lee's masterpiece, To Kill A Mockingbird just last year. Like many people, I was both excited and apprehensive to read Go Set A Watchman. Will it live up to its predecessor? Honestly, how could it? There was also the circumstances surrounding the way the book came to be. I haven't done a lot of research into it, but the way the book came to be published is very interesting.
I also tried to steer clear of other reviews; I didn't want my opinion to be tainted by theirs. For the most part, I succeeded. I heard a little bit about the book, mostly how Atticus is portrayed. For me, I saw something in not only his portrayal, but the book in general.
The book centers around Jean Louise (Scout) returning to her hometown in her twenties. She travels from New York as a woman who moved and left behind the simpleness of her past life. She's now a sophisticated woman, a knowledgeable woman, a changed woman. She finds that the life she knew has not only changed, but may have not existed in the first place. What she sees in her hometown and the people living there--especially her father, Atticus, disgusts her. She is horrified by what her town has become.
The book, whether deliberate or not, erases the innocence of of our shared experience. Most read Lee's first book while in grade school. The story was simple, good vrs evil, right vrs wrong. We admired Atticus Finch because of his integrity. We saw him through the eyes of Scout and understood that fathers should possess at least some of his qualities.
But just as happens in Go Set A Watchman, we now realize that even if things existed like they did they way we remember them, all things change. It's hard to imagine that life in the segregated south could possibly be considered a simpler time, and perhaps To Kill A Mockingbird was a look at the innocence of it all. Of course, when we look back on the events of then and now, it's never been simple, never did it have a sense of innocence. Lee uncovers truth for us all to see and reminds us that these issues have always been more than what we think we see on the surface. I'm going to read this again, but first, I think I'll read her other book. I know I'll learn more from each the second time around.
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