Thursday, April 21, 2016

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

The sequence to the novel ‘To kill a Mocking Bird’ has been released  in 2015.  This second book is reported to be the Original Version of the novel ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’.  The original is told from the point of view of the child ‘Finch”.  In this sequence called ‘Go Set a Watchman’, the child has grown into an educated woman of 26 and has been away from her home working in  New York.  Her father though a man of enough substance both literally and financially had agreed with her decision to let her work away from his family in order to make her learn the tricks of life. 
         She returns to Maycomb.  In her observations of the happenings of the town she finds that all her childhood heroes including her father have become one among the crowds and they do not at this point of time profess the ideals they had in the previous era (of her childhood,) except her aunt Alexandra, who continues to dominate the household of Atticus, her father.  Alexandra represents ( in the original as well as in this) book, all that is wrong in the culture of USA.  This is as usual resented by Finch, the young woman.
          Her brother, Jed had died some years ago and she has a new friend Hank, a young man, who looks to Atticus for guidance and support in the absence of his family which was in the vicinity.  He loves Finch and wants to marry her and settle down in Maycomb.  He is treated like a foster son of Atticus and he is a lawyer by training. 
          In these circumstances, an accident happens in which one white citizen of Maycomb is killed.  The boy to be tried for this offence is the grandson of Calpurnia, the original maid who worked in Atticus household and who took care of the children in the absence of her mother, till she retired to her house because of her old age.
          The young woman perceives that most of the people, both white and black who had faith in equality, have become racist and colour conscious, in the light of the campaigns run by National Association of Advancement of Coloured People.  NAACP is considered by Black Americans to be their organization fighting for their cause, which is resented, to use a mild expression, by the white folk. They accuse NAACP of fermenting racism, forgetting that NAACP was advancing the cause of equality.   Jean Finch finds her father siding with the whites and calpurnia had already given up hope on Atticus or for that matter on white folk and does not expect that justice would be done in this case.   The penultimate scene is how the young Finch fights with her father.   She accuses him of teaching her high values of freedom, equality and other democratic values and of forgetting these ideals now in his advanced age.  By doing this, she argues, she has been misguided by him.  He is a hypocrite who does not live by his principles anymore. She loses hope on the whitefolk of Maycomb including her father who seems to cater to the needs of the worst promoters of racial hatred.  She decides to leave, the town and her father and her house.  But her uncle confronts her with the nuanced true situation of the place and reveals  her father’s integrity, honesty and his endeavour to take everyone along with him in the path of his ideals, slowly but surely.  She finally reconciles to the truth.
          Though this novel is not as gripping as the previous one, and does not have as interesting dramatic elements, it still holds the interest because of its nuanced portrait of the people and the society. The initial narrative is very slow and even boring.   This may be because of the fact that "To kill a mocking Bird' is excellent and racy and no sequel can match the original.  It takes a long to establish the basic plot and the final confrontation comes out well.  It is not great as a novel but an addition, a kind of NB.

          As a person interested in literature, I found as to how the perception of the characters about others and the society changes over time.  In this way it is a continuation of the social actions.  But from a different point of view.  The novel has perhaps grown up but lost some of its romantic and idealistic shine   

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