Harper Lee Re-Invents Herself with Newly Published Book – Go Set A Watchman
There is perhaps no greater timeliness to the publication today of Go Set A Watchman, than the current tumult and turmoil we find in our society when it comes to racism and prejudice. Harper Lee addressed the racism and bigotry of the South in her first published book, To Kill A Mockingbird, and now her new book will speak again to the issues of race and prejudice, and become a part of the current conversation that is going rampant, not just in the USA, but in all the world, where racism and bigotry and intolerance is tearing the world apart. The book of Esther in the Old Testament spoke of Esther’s arrival on the scene in the words “… for such a time as this.” Indeed Harper Lee’s book is for such a time as this.
Harper Lee’s book, Go Set A Watchman, is in fact her first transcript, written before her previous work, To Kill A Mockingbird which won the Pulitzer Prize, when it was published in 1960. TKAM (To Kill A Mockingbird) was one of the first English language books that I read as a kid when I was learning English at age ten. My first reading was in the form of comic books, and then it was novels, and TKAM was one of those books, which deeply impacted me in my development as a bilingual immigrant pre-teen living in the province of Quebec in the late 1960’s. I also fell in love with the movie, and the character Atticus Finch, portrayed by Gregory Peck. The book and the movie have both become personal, and family favorites.
The manuscript of Go Set A Watchman controversy interview.
How Will The Public Respond?
It will be interesting to see the reading public’s response to this new book by Harper Lee. Since the publication of TKAM, there have been repeated attempts and campaigns to have the book removed from libraries and schools and has often been challenged for its use of racial epithets. I remember the book being taught In high school and it was done in a way to discuss prejudice, and racial diversity and tolerance. It was an appropriate time for that in Canada in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s as Canada’s official policy of “multi-culturalism” became embedded and practiced, and more and more people of diverse parts of the world came to make Canada their new home. I personally found it a helpful book in my pre-teens and teens. Studying it in school as a teen, in Grade 11, in the “American Literature” class was a good way to thorough discuss and examine all those issues. The use of TKAM was good in that it became an instrument of instruction and formation, and was depersonalized and easier to deal with than dealing with people in your face. I felt that then, and I feel that still, all these years later.
Political Correctness Should Not Restrict Reading Material In Schools or Libraries
So here I am, all these decades removed from high school, and the study of TKAM and other similar works is as needed today as it was then. The last thing we need is censorship and the meddling of political correctness advocates who want to do their social engineering via the restrictions and elimination of things they deem to be wrong or inappropriate. I counter that problem by advocating tolerance for diverse views, books and beliefs. Censorship does not stop people from reading material they want to read. It may make it more difficult to find, but if they want to find it, they will do it behind people’s backs and form their own opinions.
It is always better to form and opinion in a free and open discourse and interact with others and get multiple view points on a matter. This is always better than censorship or political correctness motivated restrictions. It is even more critical in our own day, as the Internet is so wide and open that people will not be restricted and controlled like they once were. So open it up and be brave and embrace the challenge of dialog and discussion.
So now we get more of the same sensitive material from Harper Lee, from the book that set the stage for TKAM.
The title of the book, Go Set A Watchman is taken from a biblical passage, Isaiah 21:6 “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what the seeth.” This sets the stage for the whole story, a story that alludes to the lead character, Scout, and how she perceives and sees her father, Atticus Finch, as the moral compass (watchman) of Maycomb, and the story is one filled with disillusionment as Scout comes to terms with her father’s bigotry.
What will be interesting to see is how our current society and culture will embrace and discuss this book and how it will be taken and read by generations of readers that read Lee’s previous book, TKAM. Everyplace, from online retailers like Amazon, to the actual book store locations are all anticipating this to become a big seller, and one can only guess what the sales numbers will be by the Christmas shopping season. I wonder how many e-book digital downloads will take place today and the next few weeks.
I think this book will become another “read aloud” book for Lori and I. I will read, and she will relax, and we will enjoy the read together and likely have lively conversations about it. You won’t find any kind of restrictions in my house!
Trailer for To Kill A Mockingbird film. LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mi88P7KfaMA
To Kill A Mockingbird Film on YouTube.
If you prefer the film with subtitles. LINK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEuqZu1UHSo