Friday, October 30, 2015

Go Set a Watchman

There's a lot about Alabama I love. There's a lot about Alabama I hate. I think that can be said for any hometown/state. And I think that's one of the reasons why Harper Lee's book To Kill a Mockingbird was so popular. It covered the best and worst of a society, in its historical context, with all its horrors and all its good. It's also why I hesitated to read Lee's latest published work.

If what I have read is true, Go Set a Watchman was her original work. It was also rejected by the editor with a suggestion that she rewrite it from Scout's point of view as a child. The manuscript of Scout as an adult confronting a myriad of thoughts, emotions, people, and societal views was supposedly left untouched with her important papers. I bought the book, but hesitated to read it for some time. This past week, I finally read it, and was both saddened and surprised. Saddened, because racism and the ugly part of my home state is never a pretty thing to read. Surprised, because it addressed things head-on in historical context without any political correctness. New York's racism is brought up, women's place in society, Scout's issues and struggles with the church, the NAACP, states' rights, reverse racism, and even freedom of speech. It's all there.

It's been many years since I've read her first published work. As an adult, I prefer the second book, her first writing, much better. For a classroom assignment, I'm not sure if I'd go with Mockingbird or assign them both as a comparison/contrast in viewpoint and ways of presenting the same matter in different ways.

But grown-up Scout is right in many ways - once you leave home, nothing is ever the same.


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