Go Set A Watchman

Go Set A Watchman

Large Print - 2015
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Twenty years after the trial of Tom Robinson, Jean Louise Finch-- Scout-- returns home to Maycomb to visit her father. She struggles with personal and political issues as her small Alabama town adjusts to the turbulent events beginning to transform the United States in the mid-1950s.
Publisher: New York : HarperLuxe, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2015.
Edition: Large print edition.
ISBN: 9780062409881
0062409883
Branch Call Number: F
Characteristics: 341 pages (large print) ; 24 cm
large print

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i
iloveseaotters
Jun 05, 2021

I love it when a book flows so nicely that I read it in four days. Such was the case with this one. I can't say that it was the best book I ever read nor was it one of my favorites, but it was an enjoyable read for the most part. I haven't read "To Kill A Mockingbird" since I was in high school in the 80's, so I think it was an advantage that I wasn't able to compare it to that classic book.

I loved that "Watchman" had the same characters but I wish it had been told in "First Person" as "Mockingbird" is. Still it was laugh out loud funny in several places, but as I got closer and closer to the end, it became less humorous and much more serious. I know this was written way before "Mockingbird" but the excessive use of the "N" word startled me a bit and it did take some getting used to.

From what I remember about "Mockingbird", "Watchman" is much more intense, especially leading up to the climax, but for the most part I found myself wondering what the plot of this story actually was. There were a few parts that I merely skimmed over because I found them too wordy to where they didn't really make sense but it was easy to pick up at another spot and not really feel like I had missed any of the story.

One reviewer stated that "Watchman" is "Trash", which I highly disagree with. It's no "Mockingbird", but as another reviewer suggested it might be interesting to read the two books together because "Watchman" could easily be billed as a sequel, since "Scout" (or "Jean Louise" as she's called in this book)is in her mid twenties. It would be interesting to compare the two just for story line purposes.

I'm sure I'm not alone in saying that had Harper Lee published "Watchman" before "To Kill A Mockingbird" that she wouldn't be quite the legend that she is, but I am glad that she agreed to have this book published. It was fun to read and I love books that make me laugh out loud. I can see this book being banned simply because of its' racial subject matter but I can also see it being turned into a movie, which I hope is the case. It won't be a classic like "Mockingbird" but it would be interesting to see this come to life on the big screen.

If you're worried about "Watchman" tainting your image of "Mockingbird", don't. If anything you'll get a new perspective on the classic and maybe even love the classic more.

n
njasujalibrary
Dec 24, 2020

Go Set A WatchMan, by Harper Lee, follows the story of a young woman named Scout Finch during the 1950s. At the beginning of the novel, Scout Finch returns to her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama from New York. Scout Finch sees how her hometown has changed over the years and is horrified when she learns her love interest Henry Clinton and her father Atticus Finch are part of Maycomb County’s Citizen Council, a group dedicated to promoting segregation and stopping the NAACP. The rest of the story is dedicated to Scout trying to make sense of what Maycomb has become by listening to the advice of her uncle, thinking about her childhood, visiting Calpurnia the African American woman that served as her surrogate mother and lashing out at Atticus and Henry. The book ends with Scout apologizing to Atticus for her rudeness, and Atticus tells Scout that he is proud of her. This book to me was okay since I liked the idea of Scout learning that her childhood heroes were not what she thought and I was interested in how the author explored Scout’s mixed emotions. I felt that this book was convoluted and didn’t have the major scenes of To Kill A Mockingbird so I would give this book a 3.5/5 and recommend it for teenagers and adults.

d
dgiard
Sep 01, 2020

In 1960, Harper Lee published "To Kill a Mockingbird", which has been rightly hailed as one of the greatest American novels of all time. 55 years later, her publisher released Lee's second novel "Go Set a Watchman", which included some of the same characters as the first.

"Watchman" takes place two decades after "Mockingbird". 26-year-old Jean Louise "Scout" Finch has returned to her childhood home of Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father Atticus. If you know Jean Louise from the earlier novel, you will not be surprised to learn she has grown into a strong-willed, independent woman during her time in New York. The novel follows Jean Louise as she interacts with the town folks and flashes back occasionally to her teenage years in Maycomb. The story climaxes when JL discovers that Atticus holds racist beliefs inconsistent with her perception of him.

Although originally marketed as a sequel, "Watchman" is now seen as an early draft of "Mockingbird". There is very little overlap in the scenes of the two novels, but Lee did reuse several passages in her final version of "Mockingbird". (https://qz.com/452650/harper-lee-revisions/)

In addition, the central story of "Mockingbird" (Atticus defending Tom Robinson - a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman) is mentioned in "Watchman", but some of the details are different.

I am happy this is not a sequel, because I disliked this version of Atticus. I grew up knowing Atticus as a hero worthy of admiration. He was open-minded and fighting for the rights of the oppressed negroes of the south; but here, he is transformed in 20 years into one who sees blacks as inferior to whites and unfit to govern themselves. In his 50s, he stood up to the status quo of a racist society; In his 70s, he saw the NAACP as a greater threat than Jim Crow laws.

Here are a few of examples of Atticus's philosophy in "Watchman":

"Now think about this. What would happen if all the Negroes in the South were suddenly given full civil rights? I’ll tell you. There’d be another Reconstruction. Would you want your state governments run by people who don’t know how to run ’em?"

"Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?"

"Honey, you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people. You should know it, you’ve seen it all your life. They’ve made terrific progress in adapting themselves to white ways, but they’re far from it yet. They were coming along fine, traveling at a rate they could absorb, more of ’em voting than ever before. Then the NAACP stepped in with its fantastic demands and shoddy ideas of government—can you blame the South for resenting being told what to do about its own people by people who have no idea of its daily problems?"

"If the scales were tipped over, what would you have? The county won’t keep a full board of registrars, because if the Negro vote edged out the white, you’d have Negroes in every county office."

It is comforting to think this is a different Atticus from an alternate universe and that Ms. Lee discarded him before deciding to publish her masterpiece. I can see hold onto the Atticus I know as the real one.

l
LauraSteinert
Aug 03, 2020

Well, my literature professor was wrong. My film studies professor was wrong. My rhetoric professor was also wrong. Atticus Finch was not a good man speaking well for the benefit of others. When I met the real Atticus in this book I became physically ill. I wish I had never opened the pages of this horrid book.

s
StrangelyExuberant
Mar 03, 2020

After 4 chapters... this was clearly not the book for me. Maybe you will have more luck.

a
AM1798
Dec 11, 2019

Excellent book. Revises the childish nostalgia of "To Kill a Mocking Bird" with a grown woman's slow recognition of how deeply embedded racism is in our culture, even among our heroes. A sad read, but a welcome call out of "good" people who are blind to culturally embedded racism.

o
OP_2
Aug 26, 2019

Tea & Talk Book Club / February 2016

c
cougarmay
Jul 22, 2019

Reese Witherspoon captures the "heart" of 'To Set A Watchman' with her narration. For those who have read the book, the audiobook version adds a nuance of emphasis. Reese plays the part of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch brilliantly . . . the adult, the "inner child," and the child. The book, being written in the 1950s, set in the 1950s, about the 1950s "South" hits its mark practically perfectly. Anyone who critiques the book and its characters on the basis of the 21st Century both has not lived through the 1950s-the 1970s and shall miss the finer points of Harper Lee's clever, brilliant storytelling. Harper Lee writes a Real Truth very well. To call Atticus Finch a "White Supremacist" misses the entire point of the book. To call him a "Racist" misapplies the "Times and Days of Change." Why yes, an outsider can correctly call him a bigot and certainly see his bigotry and ungracious "paternalism" as he portrays a viewpoint on the notion of "race" rather than seeing individuals and people. As Atticus' viewpoint remains a central view of many folks even today . . . Harper Lee tells it well.

Harper Lee shows us and tells us about a society and polity that existed then and exists now as the "social order" and "political order" remains the minds, the thoughts, and the entrenched beliefs of individuals passed down to the "collective." Here, Scout . . . Jean Louise . . . a member of the "collective" tells us she missed the "passed down" entrenched beliefs, the collective thoughts, and the "white Southern mind" much to her utter surprise and disgust.

Harper Lee's book holds many lesson and a multitude of insights about what occurs today in "Trump's America." A most excellent read. I shall gift this book to all my children and many folks. Perhaps, I'll send an autographed (my autograph) to Donald Trump.

Bye-the-Bye, my original "southern state" birth certificate read: "Colored." "Colored" being the term applied to "mulattoes," thus my viewpoint reflects a bit of a "racial bias," if you will allow and recognize.

a
Anita_Dickey
Mar 29, 2019

i read this book to fulfil the goal read a book that was written posthumously. i enjoyed visiting with familier characters, but i didn't find it as good as the first one. i espiscally liked the flashbacks of her childhood.

b
baldand
Mar 08, 2019

(Warning: contains spoilers) This sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird” was actually written first, and on p. 109 it gives a quite different version of the trial central to her masterpiece. Mayella Ewell, the white woman Tom Robinson was accused of raping, is an unnamed 14-year-old, and Atticus secures an acquittal. The funny story about the Cunninghams and the Conninghams in Maycomb (p.44-45) also appears in TKAMB. It probably would have been removed from the novel if Lee had been healthy enough to revise her manuscript. While TKAMB is told by Scout the child in the first person, the sequel is mostly told in the third person, but always dealing with Jean Louise’s experiences. Sometimes Lee lapses into first person narration, as if she had mixed feelings about her choice. It is a pity in a sense that she didn’t rewrite the book in the first person, like TKAMB. The NYT reviewer said the book revealed Atticus Finch as a white supremacist, the Guardian as a racist. It seems to me neither description is really fair to Atticus’s views as Lee depicts them. He is opposed, as is his daughter, to the Supreme Court decision on desegregation and is willing to make alliances with white racists to oppose the changes it is likely to bring. He has a much too conservative view of how fast the South can change to ensure racial equality. This is what puts off his daughter, Jean Louise, who wears her colour-blindness on her sleeve. Calpurnia, who was practically a mother to Scout in TKAMB, only has one meeting with Jean Louise, when she asks her “What are you all doing to us?” Oddly enough, this book set in the mid-1950s as Alabama desegregated, presents a bleaker view of race relations than its predecessor set in the 1930s. It’s a shame that the book never received the same loving attention of an editor that TKAMB did, but it is well worth reading just the same.

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Quotes

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a
ambdizzle
Aug 23, 2019

If you did not want much, there was plenty.

j
jdgies
Feb 08, 2019

"I guess it's like an airplane: they're the drag and we're the thrust, together we make the thing fly. Too much of us and we're nose heavy, too much of them and we're tail heavy - it's a matter of balance. I can't beat him, I can't join him"

j
jdgies
Feb 08, 2019

"... the time your friends need you is when they're wrong, Jean Louise. They don't need you when they're right."

j
jdgies
Feb 08, 2019

"Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends."

madison382 Sep 04, 2015

Jean Louise interrupted: "Hester, let me ask you someting, I've home since Saturday now and since Saturday I've heard a great deal of talk about mongrelizin' the race, and it's led me to wonder if that's not rather an unfortunate phrase, and if probably it should be discarded from Southern jargon these days. It takes two races to mongrelize a race - if that's the right word - and when we white people holler about mongrelizin' isn't that
something of a reflection on ourselves as a race?

j
jimg2000
Aug 28, 2015

The beau:

Henry checked her: “Look, honey. Have you ever considered that men, especially men, must conform to certain demands of the community they live in simply so they can be of service to it? “Maycomb County’s home to me, honey. It’s the best place I know to live in. I’ve built up a good record here from the time I was a kid. Maycomb knows me, and I know Maycomb. Maycomb trusts me, and I trust Maycomb. My bread and butter comes from this town, and Maycomb’s given me a good living. “But Maycomb asks certain things in return. It asks you to lead a reasonably clean life, it asks that you join the Kiwanis Club, to go to church on Sunday, it asks you to conform to its ways—”

j
jimg2000
Aug 28, 2015

Uncle Jack on civil war:

“What was it that made the ragtag little Confederate Army the last of its kind? What made it so weak, but so powerful it worked miracles?” “Ah—Robert E. Lee?” “Good God, girl!” shouted her uncle. “It was an army of individuals! They walked off their farms and walked to the War!”

“Jean Louise,” he said dryly, “not much more than five per cent of the South’s population ever saw a slave, much less owned one. Now, something must have irritated the other ninety-five per cent.” Jean Louise looked blankly at her uncle. “Has it never occurred to you—have you never, somewhere along the line, received vibrations to the effect— ... They fought to preserve their identity. Their political identity, their personal identity.”

j
jimg2000
Aug 28, 2015

Papa Atticus:
INTEGRITY, HUMOR, AND patience were the three words for Atticus Finch. There was also a phrase for him: pick at random any citizen from Maycomb County and its environs, ask him what he thought of Atticus Finch, and the answer would most likely be, “I never had a better friend.” Atticus Finch’s secret of living was so simple it was deeply complex: where most men had codes and tried to live up to them, Atticus lived his to the letter with no fuss, no fanfare, and no soul-searching. His private character was his public character. His code was simple New Testament ethic, its rewards were the respect and devotion of all who knew him. Even his enemies loved him, because Atticus never acknowledged that they were his enemies. He was never a rich man, but he was the richest man his children ever knew.

j
jimg2000
Aug 28, 2015

The Aunt:
Alexandra was one of those people who had gone through life at no cost to themselves; had she been obliged to pay any emotional bills during her earthly life, Jean Louise could imagine her stopping at the check-in desk in heaven and demanding a refund.

Alexandra's social prejudice:
Fine a boy as he is, the trash won’t wash out of him. “Have you ever noticed how he licks his fingers when he eats cake? Trash. Have you ever seen him cough without covering his mouth? Trash. Did you know he got a girl in trouble at the University? Trash. Have you ever watched him pick at his nose when he didn’t think anybody was looking? Trash—”
“That’s not the trash in him, that’s the man in him, Aunty,” she said mildly.

j
jimg2000
Aug 28, 2015

Setting of Maycomb:
Until comparatively recently in its history, Maycomb County was so cut off from the rest of the nation that some of its citizens, unaware of the South’s political predilections over the past ninety years, still voted Republican. No trains went there—Maycomb Junction, a courtesy title, was located in Abbott County, twenty miles away. Bus service was erratic and seemed to go nowhere, but the Federal Government had forced a highway or two through the swamps, thus giving the citizens an opportunity for free egress. But few people took advantage of the roads, and why should they? If you did not want much, there was plenty.

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KWhite190
Jan 25, 2019

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Jan 20, 2018

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peter_103 Feb 19, 2016

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blue_dolphin_4400
Aug 13, 2015

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