Harper Lee’s “Go Set A Watchman,” written before her 1960 novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” but unpublished until now, has raised controversy because of the racist disposition of one of its main characters.
The sequel to the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Mockingbird,” which spawned an Academy Award-winning film, hit stores Tuesday, July 14. It was highly anticipated by Lee’s fans and is Amazon.com’s best-selling book of 2015 so far.
This long awaited novel, however, has raised controversy about the lawyer Atticus Finch. In the original novel, Finch is a protagonist who defends Tom Robinson, a black man, from a racist accusation. In “Watchman,” set 20 years after “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Finch is portrayed as a racist character. This has caused shock among fans who felt respect for their childhood hero.
Several people have expressed their impressions of the new Finch on Twitter.
Sondra Maestrelli tweeted, “Goodbye Atticus… Reading the new Watchman means my idealist view of my literary hero is over.”
Similarly, Priti Patel also expressed a discontent attitude. She tweeted, “Atticus Finch will always be a hero to me thus the new Harper Lee book won’t be read by me. Disappointed.”
Other people, however, still consider Atticus respectable.
When asked what he thought about Atticus’ unexpected character change, Crescenta Valley High School junior John Woo told JSR, “When I first heard about the book through a critic’s review, I was initially a little apprehensive. Atticus is a role model figure to me and seeing his change was a little shocking.”
“However, while reading the novel, I began to [see the change differently]. Perhaps some may hate this change, but I personally think it was an interesting choice that really made me rethink Atticus’ character. In ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ it was so easy for me to believe that Atticus was a hero, a true defender of justice; however, this novel has shown me that even the biggest heroes have their faults.”
Jocelyn Gould, another junior at Crescenta Valley, said, “I haven’t read the book yet, but I think it wouldn’t be bad for Atticus to change because characters should develop over the course of a series.”
Publisher HarperCollins has also released a statement regarding Lee’s new book, saying, “The question of Atticus’s racism is one of the most important and critical elements in this novel, and it should be considered in the context of the book’s broader moral themes.”