Declaring What She Sees: Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman

Spoiler Alert – but this is good!!

A Peculiar Prophet

Jemson was Methodist of the whole cloth: he was notoriously short on theology and a mile long on good works. — Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

One of the many strokes of genius of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird – our greatest American novel – is to make a child, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, the narrator. We see the South, that is, 1930s Maycomb (Monroeville), Alabama, through a child’s penetrating stare. In Harper Lee’s much heralded and equally maligned second novel Go Set a Watchman, twenty-six-year-old Scout returns home from her sojourn in New York to visit her aging father, small town lawyer Atticus.

Many have condemned the publication of Go Set a Watchman as a brutal defamation of our beloved Atticus Finch or as an unedited, sloppy novel that detracts from the reputation of Harper Lee. While Go Set a Watchman lacks the literary perfection of her…

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