Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee | Teen Ink

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee MAG

August 3, 2015
By L.J.Barnes. GOLD, Powhatan, Virginia
L.J.Barnes. GOLD, Powhatan, Virginia
15 articles 0 photos 53 comments

Favorite Quote:
Avoid roasted cabbage, don't eat earwax and look on the bright side of life!
~Angela the Herbalist

Like many people, I have anxiously awaited the release of “Go Set a Watchman.” Having grown up with the shenanigans of Scout Finch and the deeper moral that all men are the same from  the novel“To Kill a Mockingbird.” I longed to return to Maycomb, Alabama. In Harper Lee’s second novel, I was not disappointed, for Lee provided  both  some compelling background to  “To Kill a Mockingbird alongside an equally compelling mature and riveting tale. Similar to her first novel that has made her so acclaimed. 

In “Go Set a Watchman” Jean Louise “Scout” Finch returns to Maycomb in her annual trip to visit her aging father. However on her return, she discovers her nostalgic hometown has lost its shine, it is more segregated than ever and her father is different. Her hometown is dissimilar to the point she no longer recognizes the town or the people she grew up with. And Jean Louise is left wondering, who has really changed, her or the town?

Lee has faced  a bit of controversy for portraying Atticus as a bigot. In “Watchman” he claims to “accept” the African Americans as people. However Atticus’s definition of accepting is “if they stay in their place, and keep the south the way it always was,”  as to not disturb the status quo. Which of course is such a stark difference from sage ol’ Atticus  we saw in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

While Atticus being portrayed as bigoted was a shock to me and as I imagine many other readers. It wasn’t as much as a shock as it was to Jean Louise Finch. In “Watchman” she realizes that her father, who she looked up to for years, didn’t agree with what she had early thought he had  believed.

While there are many messages one can glean from Harper Lee’s new novel, which is sprinkled with flashbacks to Jean Louise’s childhood, anecdotes that many readers have come to love. “Watchman” is about growing up and the realization that things change. It’s a novel that people aren’t always made up of preconceived notions. And a story of a people clinging to a past ideal, even if it is suppressive to others. But perhaps the biggest point Lee raises is that  when we grow up, it is our duty and identity to follow our conscience. But as always being human, as Atticus illustrates that our conscience isn’t always right. And this novel perhaps leaves us with the biggest question, what is definite right and wrong in this crazy world?

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