Killing “Mockingbird” ?


Caroline Enos

The much anticipated novel Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee was published July 14th, 2015


I will always hold “To Kill a Mockingbird” above any other literary work. Harper Lee’s phenomenal descriptions and use of symbolism is unmatchable. However, that is the problem. Lee never wanted to match the brilliance of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Lee has said publicly that she never intended to release another book. So, I was very hesitant to read her newly published novel, “Go Set a Watchman.”

I was uncomfortable with the idea of an adult Scout, and was worried that this book would change the perception of Atticus Finch as a character. But I’ve found that in order to fully enjoy this book, you have to accept that this is NOT a sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Harper Lee wrote “Watchman” as the first version of “Mockingbird.” You can tell that many of the plot pieces and characters in the new novel are early versions of those in the first novel. In some instances, the two books completely contradict each other.

This is especially obvious when she brings up the Tom Robinson case in “Watchman.” She wrote that Atticus won an acquittal for a black man charged with the rape of a white girl, the only one in the county’s history. However, this cannot be true since we all know Atticus lost that case in “Mockingbird.” The inconsistency of these vital plot pieces only proves that “Watchman” is not a prequel, not a sequel, but an entirely different work of its own.

Even though Lee wrote Scout as grown woman in “Watchman,” she is still the awkward, and clueless little ham we all know and love. She still doesn’t think to look further into things when presented with information, (which is kind of ironic that she is the daughter of Atticus; the king of deep thinking), and is oblivious to many of the dynamics of Maycomb.

That leads me to my next point; Atticus Finch.

I know a lot of “Watchman” readers were upset by Lee’s portrayal of a racist Atticus. His views on segregation and his attendance at a KKK meeting make us question our entire perception of him as the moral compass of “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

But, I don’t think he joined out of hate. Atticus joined simply because he had to. He could do the most good by being involved and stopping them with law rather than outright fighting them.

Although I don’t agree with his views on segregation, he is entitled to his opinions. He never forced them on anyone and would always do what he thought was lawfully right. Unlike Scout, he never “condemned his enemies,” and would still treat a black man as he would a white man.

Therefore, I can assure you that Atticus is still for the law, still for justice, but ultimately two different people in Lee’s novels. His beliefs are just too contradictory to be found in the same person.

Now, do you think Harper Lee created another masterpiece, or did she “kill a mockingbird” with this new novel? Let us know in the comment section.