BOOK REVIEW: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee
July 19, 2015
Despite all the criticism the book will continue to receive in coming days, months, and years, I think you should read Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee if you have read To Kill A Mockingbird. I cannot argue about the timing of the publishing of the book. I think it is fair that it got published after fifty-five years of Lee’s first novel and I am curious about what would have happened if this book would have published many years before.
The story starts as Jean Lousie, twenty-six years old, returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus Finch, now seventy-two and crippled by arthritis. Considered as the sequel the book is set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her.
While my fellow critics may claim that the plot is loosely bound, I would say there is nothing wrong with the plot of this book. It is not as unique it’s prequel, but it is an average plot. There are glimpses of Harper Lee’s wonderful narration, the kind which we get to read in To Kill A Mockingbird. The characters are not well build and I think the author has assumed the build up shall be continued from the prequel. The scenes described by the author are either loosely bound or some of them are just average. Nothing extraordinary is there in the book except that it reveals the darker side of renowned, Atticus Finch, who is considered by her daughter as her hero, and by the readers as a perfectly honourable man. You will be slightly shocked on reading to know about how a man who prioritized equality and justice over race, gender and other norms of society has become one of them, whom he despised.
It is a shock when we admire someone for the something does exactly the opposite of that ‘something’. The case here is similar and it is the reference of the time that people change and one’s surroundings affect one deeply and may turn him in to one of the demons the society is full of. That oneself is the puppet of his own surroundings. Go Set A Watchman is an example of the scenario described and Atticus Finch is the puppet. The book is a perfect example of the toxicity of the society and how venomous it can be. It is annoying to see something similar happen to someone you are close to but people change and especially with time.
I think the novel’s ending is not at all satisfying and Lee should have considered changing it or come to a stiff conclusion that would have been perfect in this case. I don’t blame the author, since all of the characters are her creations, it is totally up to her to do whatever with them. There is a lesson in this book too, but it’s a pity that it the lesson itself is under-shadowed by the author.
Go Set A Watchman, does not full fills the standard set by To Kill A Mockingbird and is an average novel to read.
3 out of 5