In Go Set A Watchman Harper Lee uses flashbacks, extended metaphors, humour and symbolism to bring to light a realistic depiction of the cross combat injuries sustainable during a racial revolution.
Just as the times around them the characters in Lee's book are being shaped by the conflict of race and the fight for identity that it induces. Each character is now seeing the world around them from behind the blinders of not welcomed changed. Lee shows us this struggle well all through out the book as Jean Louise jerks through her stream of conciousness from adulthood to childhood and back again. Desperate for stability, she is livid when a Sunday school song is sung differently and keeps returning unconsciously to the shady patch that was her backyard, the author shows us that she just is not ready for what looms just before her on the horizon, in history and in the books plot.
The themes are clear and jumping of the page, race, identity, conflict, revolution and post slavery America in the time of the confederacy. There is the debate of colour blindness verses intentional ignorance in every conversation shared between a Negro and Caucasian character in the book making the weighty implications of such a statement as 'equal rights for all special rights for none' glaringly evident in the time of the books setting and ever relevant even in modern day society.
Uncle Jack, serving a foil character to Atticus, walks us the reader through much of the twisted roads of resolution from his all knowing point of view. Since Jean Louis tells the majority of the story and has limited interaction with him however, this choice of points of view creates wonderful suspense in the novel; we know everything just as Jean Louise knows it and if not mere moments before.
As always Harper Lee's choice of diction is elegant, beautiful and metaphoric and laced with witty nods to classic literature that makes the lover of it either feel a sense of pride or embarrassment for their level of familiarity with her many references.
Most glaring is the realities of how this book, written so long ago continues to be relevant in modern day. In the 2000s we have seen a different kind of 'identity revolution' than that of Scott and her family, one characterised by the natural hair movements and such classifications of beauty as Lupita Nyong'o. We have also been privy to more brazen senseless murders underscored by the racial divide. Harper Lee's Go Set A Watchman is a blunt observation and warning that if we compare and contrast early post slavery America with that of it's present day counter part sorrowfully it would appear the more things change is the more they have stayed the same. She invites us to search ourselves and 'Go Set a Wactchman' ; a conscience and assess how we feel about our achievements of 'equality' thus far.
I give this book five stars. Now let me tell you my personal reasons why:
So many are shocked by what they perceive to be a revolutionary change in Attocis's character and I understand that for when a character is cast as a hero in one book then has the integrity built to support his heroism questioned in a next people become flustered, people say this is not the man I knew...
It is for this very reason I feel the author has so well succeed. Many are looking at this book as a prequel, I am not. I see it better as a sequel and it functions well as such. Especially if viewed in chronological order.
I do not feel like Harper Lee changed Atticus, she built the persona to be a human being and guess what: people too change, especially during a time when history is changing around them.
I have come to realise that people seem to be most comfortable with the notion of a person being one thing or the other as though one cannot be just and greedy, unfortunately this is entirely possible. Just as one can do a job well and still hate the people you are doing that job for.
Jean Louise and the many characters around went through a not so unique struggle in this book, one that speaks valumes about the human race. They were all made, not asked, to question where they stood in the hierarchy of colour that humanity has calculated up for ourselves and what they presumed to do about it. Then, they made separate choice as to how to answer that question because the things we are taught and the people we associate with leave an impact on our lives and help choose the direction of our choices, maybe not immediately but eventually.
While our circumstance do not get to choose the direction of our choices but they do get to somewhat inform them. The choice is ours to make. Jean Louise and Atticus made choices flavoured by their past interactions and lessons. I appreciate that I had the chance to read about it and learn from it.
I'm feeling a little odd writing my thoughts on this book, I know that my view is not that of the majority. I think because I think too much like Jean Louise does in this book. So yay that this isn't a scholarly paper where they are always searching for the right answer, this blog post is me giving my opinion freely.
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