Perhaps one of the greatest books of all times in Southern Literature is To Kill A Mockingbird. Thus, I’ve been hesitant to read Go Set A Watchman, especially after having read this New York Time’s review. Growing up in the South, Atticus Finch was one of my childhood heroes. Although, I didn’t grow up in the same time as Scout, Jem and Atticus Finch, racism still ran rampant in Montgomery, Alabama in the 1980’s. Racism is still prevalent today in much of the country–not just the South. Although we have come a long way as a country.
When I attended the Midwest Writer’s Workshop last week, Ashley Ford an amazingly put-together 28 year old woman said, “There are no heroes and villains,” and she’s right. It’s all about perception. As a child, I perceived my parents as super human. They were my heroes. I remember as a teenager having the startling realization of my parents as people in a relationship, and it made me see them differently.
If we are to believe Go Set A Watchman is the first draft to To Kill A Mockingbird, then in the mind of Harper Lee, Atticus Finch started out as a racist and then evolved into something else. As a child, Scout sees her father as an amazing man, ahead of his time, defending a black man at trial. As a grown up, her perception has changed and she sees he is a racist like most of the other white men in Alabama at that time. “That doesn’t make him bad,” my friend Julie said last night at dinner. Atticus Finch is simply a product of his time.
Now, I haven’t read Go Set A Watchman yet. (I’m on page 20). I’m interested to see how my assessment will change as I read through it. I’ll report back afterward!