by Erin K. | | 4 Comments | Tags:

Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club discussion of Go Set a Watchman!

If you’re just joining us, let me get you up to speed. This month, we’re reading Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. We’ve already had two blog discussions, so check out the first two entries if you haven’t already.

Last week, I talked about the controversy surrounding the publication of the novel. This week, I thought it would be interesting to talk about the main characters. If you’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird, you might have noticed that the characters in Go Set a Watchman are really different than they were in To Kill a Mockingbird. The character I had the most trouble with was actually Jean Louise or Scout. I really struggled with Jean Louise because I felt like she acted really immature throughout the first half of the book. I felt like she wasn’t nice to others, she acted as if she were better than everyone else, and she yelled a lot. I felt as if I were reading about a teenage girl and not a twenty-six year old woman who has spent several years living on her own. I was most disappointed in the way that Jean Louise treated Henry. He seemed so sweet and kind, and Jean Louise strung him along throughout the entire book. She kept acting like she wanted to be with him, but then, she just decided that he wasn’t right for her.

I know many people have had a lot of trouble with Atticus, so I was really expecting to be shocked by his opinions and thoughts. But, even though I don’t agree with Atticus’ ideas and thoughts about people, I at least felt like he had reasons for believing the things that he believed. Reading his ideas about African Americans made me uncomfortable, but I guess I wasn’t so attached to Atticus as a character that I felt like his opinions really rocked me.

I was also pretty disappointed that Jem was not a character in this book. His death was mentioned so casually, and that really bothered me.

What do you all think? What are your thoughts about the characters? Were you surprised by any of the things that the characters did or said? Were you disappointed by Atticus?

I hope to hear from you in the comments. Let me know how you feel about the characters, and let me know what you think of the documentary. I am really interested to hear your opinions!

 


4 Responses to “Go Set a Watchman: Week 3”

  1. Carrol

    I was really disappointed with the characters in the book. I usually connect with at least one character in the story, but I wasn’t able to do that. I was actually annoyed with them.

    Scout bothered me the most. I didn’t like the way she treated Henry when he was so obviously in love with her. It made me so sad to hear the way he explained the different ways they were perceived by the people in the town.

    I felt sorry for Atticus and his physical struggles. I didn’t like the relationship between him and Scout. I wanted him to be the same strong character he was in To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Calpurnia was another disappointing character. She was not the same humorous character in this story. She was so burdened and heavyhearted.

    I was sorry Jem died at such a young age. I did like the flashbacks in the story about events between Jem and Scout. They showed the special relationship between brother and sister. Scout needed Jem in this book.

    I was so disappointed with the characters in this story.

    • Erin K.

      Carrol, I’m sorry that you didn’t connect with any of the characters. It was hard to read and understand these characters since they are so different from the way they were portrayed in Mockingbird.

      I agree with you that the flashback sections were the most fun part of the book. The part with Scout and Henry at the prom was so funny! I couldn’t believe that she wore a fake bosom and that it ended up falling off!

      Thanks for still sticking with the book and commenting, even though you aren’t loving it this month!

  2. Caitlin E.

    I agree that it was difficult to connect with these “versions” of the characters. I suppose with this older Scout, Harper Lee was trying to portray her as still being something of a sassy, free-spirited tomboy even at 26, but how she treated Henry did seem immature. I liked her reparte with Atticus because that to me showed their understanding with each other, and I was amused by the scene at the coffee gathering that Alexandra throws for Jean Louise in which she finds herself unable to relate to any of the women there. However, I think the flashbacks of Jean Louise as the young girl that we’re all familiar with were the most enjoyable parts of the book, and I’m glad that was the story that Harper Lee eventually expanded upon to construct Mockingbird.

    Understanding this earlier draft of Atticus as a character was somewhat puzzling…. he does seem almost logical in his insistence that segregation be maintained, as you said. One point that I thought was interesting was a recent review of Mockingbird that pointed out how Atticus became the lawyer for Tom Robinson only because he was assigned to the case, not out of a sense of justice (the review is here, and a word of warning, it is rather harsh: https://newrepublic.com/article/122306/just-how-good-kill-mockingbird). So perhaps the Watchman Atticus and Mockingbird Atticus are closer than they might seem; they are both acting out of a sense of principle rather than the noble egalitarianism that the classic character is praised for. But I could very well be stretching that comparison.

    • Erin K.

      Caitlin, I read that same set of reviews when I was writing these blog posts. I really appreciated the author’s candor, and I liked his thoughts.

      It is interesting to think that the Mockingbird version of Atticus is closer to the Watchman version than first meets the eye. I can see how people could read the Mockingbird version of Atticus as not being as noble as he first appears. If the Watchman version of Atticus is the first draft and what Lee first imagined as her character, it would make sense that her second version might still retain some elements from the first. But then, it begs the question–does it really matter what Atticus’s motivation was in Mockingbird? Even if he took the case because he had to, that doesn’t negate the fact that he did the best he could at the trial and defended Tom to the best of his ability.

      I don’t know–this book just made me feel so many things! I don’t really know what to think of it.

      Thanks for chiming in again this week! And, thanks for your insightful thoughts!

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