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“Go Set a Watchman” Review

By Peter Howard

 

 

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Everyone has read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” either in school or for leisure. However, have you ever wondered what became of Scout, Jem, and Dill after the story ended? Well, Harper Lee’s second novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” takes readers back to Maycomb, Alabama during the civil rights movement. Published 55 years after Mockingbird, Watchman reads just as beautifully as its predecessor. Lee’s imagery of the South has a way of pulling the reader in and immerses them in the tiny town the story is set in.

Jean Louise Finch, aka Scout, now a 26-year-old woman, returns home for a visit while living in New York City.
Everything seems business as usual until Scout discovers that her beloved father, Atticus, has joined the Maycomb County Citizen’s Council: a group of white men trying to keep segregation alive in their town. The story follows Scout as she tries to figure out if all she was taught about acceptance as a child, not only by her father but the rest of the people of Maycomb, had been genuine.

Lee brings back familiar characters such as Scout’s older brother Jem, their neighbor Dill, and Calpurnia, the black woman who helped Atticus raise Scout and Jem, though some are only in memories from Scout’s childhood. There are a few new characters as well such as Atticus’ brother, Dr. Jack Finch, Scout’s busybody aunt Alexandra who cares for Atticus while Scout is in New York, and Henry Clinton, a young lawyer who works for Atticus and is Scout’s love interest.

Though many readers may be upset about Atticus’ new point of view, which is a far cry from the gentle man who defended a black man in court during Mockingbird, I encourage readers to stick with it and see it through to the end. Just as Scout learns in this story, things are not always what they seem.

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