Go Set A Watchman

“The lord never sends you more than you can bear……”

                       -Uncle Jack

Go Set A Watchman

Go Set A Watchman

This quote is taken from Harper Lee’s second book ‘Go Set a Watchman’, published by Harper Collins in United States in 2015. Harper Lee is one of the best novelist who is the first author to receive the Pulitzer Prize for her first book ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’in 1961. Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the US and National medal of arts are some of the many awards Lee received.

Politics, racism, change, conscience, equality are some of the highlighted themes of this fiction which is a third person narrative and describes the disturbed situation among the dark and the white people during the mid-twentieth century. This book was written prior to Lee’s first book but was published as its sequel.

The story is set in Maycomb, Alabama where the protagonist, Jean Louise was born and brought up, but currently lives in New York. On her two week holiday to her hometown, she notices that things have changed and nothing seems to be like before. She is disgusted seeing the change in her dad (Atticus), her suitor (Henry) and her aunt about the notions they have for the dark coloured race. She also finds that her relation with Calpurnia her old dark maid has changed. The narrator suffers from an inner turmoil where she often recalls her childhood days when situations where different.

The narrator believes in equal rights for all and is angry with her family who are against the dark people, also considered as ‘the black plague’. The author highlights the complexity of history, law, human race and politics when one is forced to do something that he does not wish to. The ‘watchman’ is the view of the older Jean Louise which is different from that of her father’s. She is upset that her father, who is her idol and her best friend does not think the same way as she does. After a row with her father Jean meets her uncle, Uncle Jack who beautifully explains the philosophy of circumstances by giving some amazing examples. He explains that it’s not good to fasten our conscience with someone else’s as, if that happens and the opinions differ, it’s disheartening; and it is also necessary to keep in mind that our idols are just human beings and it is OK for them to have different ideas. These intriguing philosophical explanations gives a better understanding to human psychology, which also helped Jean understand her father’s and Henry’s decisions.

This story can be related to present day situations like: political disturbances, conflicts in families and friendship due to difference in opinions, empowering a particular group of people and many more.

This is an amazing book appropriate for teenagers and young adults, with a simple story about Jean Louise’s life and her relation with her family and the people of her hometown. The author’s opinion on racism is clearly expressed and what she thinks is definitely right but even what her dad is doing is justified and her final decision of understanding her father’s point of view to the situation is definitely agreeable.

Overall it is a good and interesting book and I would recommend others to read it.

I would like to end by quoting a set of meaningful words by Uncle Jack- “prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one…..they both begin when reason ends.”

Aditi Jain



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