Books

Go Set a Watchman

Let me start by saying that not even studying To Kill a Mockingbird to within an inch of its life could make me hate it. I have always adored Scout, and it is a powerful story, probably made all the more so because of Scout’s age. Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings and all that. I also liked the film with Gregory Peck, and oh! the little girl who played Scout!

Go Set a Watchman is, I would say, a companion novel, not a sequel. And I would probably not suggest reading them in quick succession, although I suspect that future generations who study Mockingbird will probably have to. As Scout discovered, a little distance is needed to cope with the more unpalatable revelations of Atticus Finch. It is, though, almost nice to discover that he isn’t the paragon Scout thinks him in Mockingbird. Such all-round nice characters are a bit, well, nice. Wasn’t Jane Bennett somehow more likeable when she made that bitchy comment about Bingley’s sisters?

Given all the media attention and spoilers which accompanied the release, I hope I don’t upset anyone with the revelation that Atticus was a member of the KKK. Please don’t think too harshly of him: he had his reasons. And Scout’s reaction when she learns of this is just what we might expect of her. She is, in Watchman, still the same old Scout. Older, a little sadder, maybe, but still as tomboyish and impetuous as ever. And still winding Aunt Alex up by not behaving like a Southern lady.

Watchman is not Mockingbird, though, but it’ll be interesting to reread Mockingbird in the light of Watchman’s revelations. It’s interesting to see how Mockingbird evolved, given that Watchman was written first, although the fates of some of the characters was rather upsetting.

As to Scout’s fate, I really hope she resists the hero provided in Watchman and goes off to find Dill: I’ve always thought they’d make a good couple.

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