I have waited several weeks to write this post as I wanted to let my feelings about Harper Lee’s last book resonate deeper with time. But I must say what I felt after reading the first one-hundred pages and how I felt after the last paragraph of the book are the same now while typing this post.
Go Set A Watchman should have remained stored on a shelf and never allowed to hit a publisher’s desk.
I looked forward to the book when first hearing that another Lee offering was to be printed. After all, who would not greet with arms wide open a book featuring the much-loved characters from To Kill A Mockingbird? That book was not only among my top-ten all time favorites but ranked in that regard for countless others across the nation.
But the style of how this book was composed and the choppy placement of some stories along with the way Atticus is presented make for more of an issue about the state of Lee’s ability to control her writings than presenting a book that shines. Her declining health in the last years rather than any great story that merited publication is sadly the issue at hand.
By all accounts this manuscript was sent back to Lee many decades ago with a desire for changes. The changes became the loved Mockingbird story. Someone looked to make money and found the way to get this book into the hands of readers such as myself.
We all naturally desire more writings from Harper Lee. But there are times when we only get one gem and need to fondly recall it and treasure it. That is how it should have been had greed not overcome sensibility for the Lee estate.
I will always love To Kill a Mockingbird and will not allow the shine of that book to be diminished for me personally. I can only hope that future generations will first read and know Harper Lee the way I did. After all, that is how she wanted it to be before being taken advantage of by those who wished to use her for greedy purposes.
One thought on ““Go Set A Watchman” Should Never Have Been Published”
The troubling point is that we do not want to believe that people can begin life as tolerant and, through the long train of years, become less tolerant and even racist. We want to believe that Atticus’s noble beliefs would reward him with peace and that he would live happily ever after. Conflict appears to have turned him sour.
I cannot help think of Huck Finn here. Had the novel stopped at chapter 31, everything would have been swell. Unfortunately, Huck takes one step forward in his friendship with Jim and then a step or two backward. At the end of the novel he is hardly a model for enlightened tolerance. But life is like this.
Perhaps the flaw is rather with Mockingbird in that we never see A.F. struggle for his tolerant attitude to begin with. IF we don’t know how A.F. came to be who he was in Mockingbird, then maybe Harper Lee never did either. The character lacks a foundation then and becomes like many of us–good for a while, then cynical and defeated. Lol! not very happy ending, but one we must all deal with.