Harper Lee’s second book ‘Go Set A Watchman’ has become a controversial issue among devoted readers and book lovers.
“I think it’s going to take a while to settle out, frankly. You know there was sort of the initial wave of revulsion, ‘Oh no, he’s a racist, this can’t be, I won’t read it’,” says book critic John Sledge.
The revelation that Atticus Finch, the noble attorney who defended an African American on trial in the midst of a segregated south, is in fact a segregationist.
“Of course ‘Mockingbird’ paints Atticus as the father everyone wished they had,” says Sledge.
24 hours after its release, book critics took to the web calling it “less compelling” and sounding like a “failed sequel”, while others try to find an underlying theme to explain the differences. The New York Times saying: “Mockingbird suggested that we should have compassion for outsiders like Boo and Tom Robinson, while Watchman asks us to have understanding for a bigot named Atticus.”
Some think it’s the flaws that are painting Atticus as a more developed character.
“Show him fully as a human being. He wasn’t that perfect person, but he’s more real now,” says Amy Thomspon.
And it makes sense if it’s true that this was the first draft of ‘Mockingbird’, reflecting what Lee was going through at the time.
“Harper Lee was really writing about her frustration at coming home from New York, and once again, confronting these attitudes in a place that had nurtured her and that she loved,” says Sledge.
And while some wish this book had never come to light, Local Author, Ron Meszaros applauds the decision to publish.
“So to see the beginnings of Atticus and Scout is really an interesting concept, we see how she built the book,” says Meszaros.
A lot of critics say this book will tarnish Harper Lee’s image, her legacy, but Sledge says, on the contrary.
“You certainly look at other authors who had works come out much later like Hemingway and people will say ‘Well those works weren’t as good’, but it doesn’t diminish from the original. So I think ‘Mockingbird’ is safe for all time,” says Sledge.
The book is already on the New York Times’ best sellers list.