7 Thoughts On Go Set A Watchman

1. Makes me feel sick. I subconsciously mirror story characters I feel I can relate to. So if the main character is sick, I start to feel stifled, hot, and claustrophobic. Not fun.

2. Ruins To Kill A Mockingbird. I will never be able to read To Kill A Mockingbird the same way again. Kinda makes me regret reading Go Set A Watchman.

3. Has traits of a sequel… but isn’t. Know those books that come out a while after a bestseller, the ones that the author probably didn’t plan to write until he saw how successful the first one turned out? Or, even worse, the books written after the author of the bestseller is dead – because one would feel strange writing the unwanted sequel to their book while they were still living, I suppose – by some random idiot off the street looking for a little extra cash on the side? Go Set A Watchman almost has this feel but I can’t accuse it of either, as I know that it was written previous to To Kill A Mockingbird. Still, certain elements seem fishy. Killing off Jem, for instance. The sudden appearance of Hank, who was a lifelong friend of Jean Louise’s – but suspiciously never  made an appearance in To Kill A Mockingbird?

4. On parenting. Atticus is, like, the model parent. He never overreacts. Parents the world over could stand to learn a thing or two from Atticus when it comes to his parenting skill.

5. Is boring. Politics are not my thing, so, yeah, a lot of this book was way over my head.

6. Makes us realize all over again why we love Jem. He tells Scout he’ll look out for her. He helps Scout out of a certain… dilemma. Makes his football teammates dance with his little sister – “his quiet way of making sure she had a good time.” Sweet beyond words.

7. Is Jean Louise’s journey from child-like innocence to adulthood, To Kill A Mockingbird was Jem’s. To Kill A Mockingbird focuses on Scout’s childhood, while the glimpses into the past we get in Go Set A Watchman, point more towards Scout’s girlhood and adolescent, the tougher years for Jean Louise.

I don’t know what to say, honestly. Like I said, large portions of the book I found very boring because they were very political and I am so not smart enough to keep up with Jean Louise and Atticus’ arguments.

On the other hand, some parts of this book are in exactly the same vein as To Kill A Mockingbird, picking up right where it left off.

Part of me never wants to see the book again. The other part wants to run over to Barnes and Noble and get it to be the companion of my copy of To Kill A Mockingbird.

I am Scout. I idolized Atticus. He was my hero. He was perfect, in my mind. But only because Lee paints him that way! If she had only given us some kind of a hint… Go Set A Watchman wouldn’t be so devastating. But that was the point, I guess. To set you up for a fall. Entice you into thinking Atticus was one thing, only to shove your face in that fact that he was only a man, after all.

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9 thoughts on “7 Thoughts On Go Set A Watchman”

  1. Ahh, yes. Bookish brothers are the best, are they not??? I have one as well and he had this shelf FULL OF MY FAVORITE BOOKS, so that was #Coolness. AND THEN HE MOVED OUT… taking his books with him. WHUT. Clearly he was not thinking of the small puddle of sadness that was his little sister back at home wailing for her boooks? Inconsiderate, obviously. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted, my loves. Come visit me sometimes???

    Ugh, yes! Let us reread without the emotional trauma!!!

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  2. Oh, me, too! I love having discussions with people. 🙂

    My brother has a copy, so yeah. It’s easy to come by. 🙂 Very true. Maybe it won’t be so emotionally unsettling the second time through, since we already know what happens. That would definitely be nice. 😉

    Thanks, Kayla! This has been really fun!!! We’ll definitely have to have another chat sometime! 😀

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  3. Mind? NEVER!!!

    I wouldn’t write the posts if I didn’t want to chat about it with people. 🙂

    I am BEYOND THRILLED that this has turned into like AN ACTUAL DISCUSSION!!!

    It seems like each era has it’s own set of confusingness and complicatedness. 🙂

    I’m assuming you have your own copy? Unfortunately, I don’t. I think I can handle the emotional trauma better the second time over. 🙂 At least that’s usually the way it works for me… First time is REALLY hard, but it gets better after that. Probably it made it worse to plunge into it having no idea what I was getting myself into. Now I can brace myself. 🙂

    I like chatting with you, too!!!

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  4. Aww. Thanks. You’re so sweet. *hugs back* I’m afraid I can get a little a carried away sometimes when it comes to discussions like this, so I’m SO glad you didn’t mind. 🙂

    Haha! No worries. It’s actually been over a year since I read it, too, so I probably shouldn’t even be talking about it because there’s SO much that I don’t remember. 😛 (Ha! I’ve probably got all my facts wrong, too. Well, but as the book was so confusing to start with, I guess adding our two cents–even without having all our facts straight–can’t leave us too worse off than we were before. Eh? ;))

    I knew it! I knew it! There was bound to be a hole in my logic somewhere! Actually, about as soon as I had published my last comment I remembered the pamphlets and was like, “Oh, dear. I can’t remember what those pamphlets were about or why Atticus had them. That’s probably one of the things that really points to him being racist and will now debunk my whole theory.” Haha. Like I said, I really can’t remember what the whole issue was with that, so your guess is as good as mine.

    Jean Louise does talk about being color blind, and she is because she really doesn’t see any difference and feels that the black people deserve the same opportunities and privileges as the white people. Which is right. She does admit to them being “backward”, however, and in that regard her practical (rather than idealist) side is coming out. Because she sees what the black people are like in their community, and she knows that with their lack of education and experience, there are certain things they’re not ready to do yet (such as serving in government or more “prestigious” jobs like that, I guess.) (Leastways, that’s what I gathered from the chapter near the end where she’s blowing up at Atticus.)

    Oh that’s right. Calpurnia. I forgot about that part, but that was SO sad! I can’t remember what the whole issue was now, but I do remember being really disappointed about that. It really must have been a confusing time to be alive, I think. But then I suppose we have our own set of confusions in this day and age, don’t we?

    Yes, indeed. It really is SO confusing. And I’m afraid I’m going to dig myself into a pit if I keep trying to figure it all out…haha…so I guess I’d better stop talking, eh? 😛 We should probably both read it again sometime. But then, are we ready to go through all that emotional turmoil, do you think? *gulp* I don’t know. Maybe one time was enough. 😛

    Thanks for putting up with me through these long-winded speeches. And for taking the time to respond, too. I do very much enjoy talking with you. 🙂

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  5. Ohmygoodness, Miss March, can I just give you a huge hug right now for being so awesome???

    Wow, girlfriend! Just wow. I have never had anybody do to so much research just to chat with me in the comments! You are one cool woman. *winks*

    Well, kdt me preface my response by saying that I have only read Go Set A Watchman once and it was about a year ago??? Right after it was published. (I know it says I posted this recently and maybe that was misleading, sorry!)

    So anyway! I will probably get aaaalll my facts wrong, so I apologize in advance for confusions!!! Know that I’m going from memory here.

    Didn’t Atticus have these pamphlets that Jean Louise found that was about how black people aren’t as smart as white people because their heads or brains are actually smaller or some nonsense like that??? I kinda based my assumption of his supposed racism in that fact.

    I don’t remember the bit about Jean Louise thinking black people aren’t as smart as white people – I thought she said all this stuff about being colorblind and how she was raised by a white man and a black woman and in New York color was something you didn’t even pay attention to???

    And this one part that made me SO HUGELY SAD was when Calpurnia is like not even talking to Jean Louise and I guess I kind of assumed that it was because Atticus was pro-segregation???

    IT IS ALL SO CONFUSING!!! Basically I need to read it again and I really want to, agh!!

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  6. Okay, so I just went and re-read the last couple chapters of Go Set a Watchman in order to refresh my memory. And goodness, it’s such a confusing topic I don’t know if I can speak intelligently on it. But I’ll try.

    First off, Atticus does talk about black people as if they weren’t as smart as white people…but Jean Louise actually agrees with that. And they are referring mostly to the black people in their own community–who they know–and who apparently weren’t as smart due to lack of education and experience in living in a white man’s society. No fault of their own, of course, as they hadn’t been given the opportunity before, but in Atticus’ mind many of them were not yet ready for the full responsibility and privileges of regular US citizens.

    “Honey, you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people. You should know it, you’ve seen it all your life. They’ve made terrific progress in adapting themselves to white ways, but they’re far from it yet. They were coming along fine, traveling at a rate they could absorb, more of ’em voting than ever before. Then the NAACP stepped in with its fantastic demands and shoddy ideas of government–can you blame the South for resenting being told what to do about its own people by people who have no idea of its daily problems?” That paragraph makes me feel that Atticus really isn’t racist. He has no problem with the black people gaining ground in society, voting, becoming well respected and contributing members of society. But he knows there’s a process involved, and that just slapping a new law down isn’t necessarily going to make things run smoothly toward that end.

    On the other hand, I guess you could say he’s a bit racist because he doesn’t like the idea of black people in white people’s schools. So he believes in segregation. Bad right? Well, but then you have to look at the fact that that’s the mind set he grew up with. It was a way of life. And it’s never easy to change your outlook at something that’s always been that way for as long as you can remember. Going further, Jean Louise talks with Uncle Jack about marriages between black people and white people, and you get the impression that that would be one step too far in her opinion. So, couldn’t we call Jean Louise racist, too? Because everyone knows it’s fine for a black person to marry a white person, right? Yes. In our generation, that’s really no big deal. Go back one generation further, though, it was actually looked down upon. That doesn’t mean everyone who shrunk away from such a union didn’t like black people or thought they weren’t good enough or fully human or anything like that. It’s just that it was something that wasn’t normally done, and when there’s something that’s not normally done people are going to be uncomfortable with it.

    Anyway, all that to say, we all have our own personal prejudices, some big, some small–some we’re probably not even aware of. But it comes down to the decisions we make when we come face to face with those prejudices and it’s either choosing between our preconceived ideas, or the ideas and feelings of another person. Looking at how Atticus treats the black people as individuals–in Jean Louise’s own words, “You now, you treat all people alike.”–I don’t think there was any truly harmful prejudice in him. And also, as I’m reading through this again I’m realizing that Jean Louise accuses him of denying that they’re human. But I don’t think he ever actually did that. He wasn’t ready to give them all the privileges that Jean Louise felt they should have, but in his mind they weren’t ready for that yet, and it would only cause more problems in society if they didn’t take things slower. He may have been wrong in some of his opinions, but these were very complicated times and issues so who can really say who was right and who was wrong? Unless you experienced it for yourself, you couldn’t really know. And so in the end, though you do see some prejudices on his part that you didn’t see in To Kill a Mockingbird, I think he still stays true to the kind and caring person he was in the first book.

    (There. I think I just convinced myself. Haha. Honestly, I can get a bit shaken over it, too, because I want him to be perfect. But the thing is, just because someone doesn’t share the same conscience as you do, doesn’t mean they aren’t seeking as hard as you are to do what’s right. And that’s the most any of us can do.)

    I don’t know if any of that was helpful, but I guess it’s about all I’ve got. Sorry for talking your ear off. I’m leaving now. 🙂

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  7. Hi, miss March!!! *waves* Thanks for stopping by!

    Gah, I know! I was so upset all day and it was so unreasonable but I couldn’t help it!!!

    Jem was such a sweetie. 🙂

    Well, for me, it was like, in To Kill A Mockingbird Atticus was so… NOT racist. And then in this book he believed in segregation and that black people weren’t as smart as white people!!! I wanted to think I was wrong, so if you can explain it in a way that clears Atticus, I will be happy to listen. 🙂

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  8. 1. It got me in the emotional category, too. I literally felt like my world was falling apart, and then I was like “Wait! Why am I feeling this way? There’s nothing horrible going on in my life. Oh that’s right. The book.” (Haha.) I can totally see how that wasn’t a fun feeling for you, though. 😛

    6. Yeeees! JEM! He’s my favorite!! 😀

    7. Personally, I don’t really understand what the big hype about Atticus is all about. From what people were saying I was expecting to be hugely disappointed in him and to find out that he wasn’t the nice guy we all thought he was in the first book. But it really didn’t come across that way to me. I felt like the reasons he gave Scout were reasonable considering all the things he was taking into account, and the feelings of the time and all that. It didn’t make me think worse of him. But then, as you said, the politics were confusing, so I may have been totally missing the point when I read it. 😛

    I enjoyed this post very much, Kayla! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🙂 Oh!, and your new blog design looks great!!

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