by Erin K. | | 9 Comments | Tags:

Hello and welcome to the last week of our Online Book Club discussion of Go Set a Watchman. If you’re just joining us, make sure to go back and read the other three discussions, so you can be up to date. So far, we’ve talked about the controversy surrounding the publication of the book, and we’ve talked about the major characters.

This week, let’s talk about the ending of the book and the documentary about Harper Lee that you can find at your local library or on our online streaming service, Hoopla.

Obviously, the biggest part of the end of this book was Jean Louise’s confrontation with her father and her realization that she must make her own opinions about things and not only believe what her father believes. I understand that Jean Louise had to go through a crisis to really examine herself and find out what she truly believes in. But, I had a really hard time completely understanding the scene that came after the big fight—the scene where Uncle Jack slaps her in the face. The slap was meant to stop her for a second, I’m sure, but I just thought the whole thing was very odd. Jean Louise was so angry and so out of control, and then she was just fine. I had a hard time believing that she was able to completely process everything in a split second.

I’m glad that the book ended with Jean Louise and Atticus making peace with each other, but I just felt like the ending wasn’t satisfying. I don’t know what I was expecting or wanting from the ending, but whatever it was, I didn’t get it.

Did you all watch the Harper Lee documentary? I really enjoyed hearing all about Harper Lee’s life, and I really liked seeing how To Kill a Mockingbird evolved as she edited. I ended up watching the special bonus feature where the filmmaker visited Harper Lee and watched Lee’s reaction to the publication of Go Set a Watchman. I felt so uneasy throughout the entire bonus scene. It seemed like Harper Lee was excited to see the book, but I just feel like there’s more to the story of this book’s publication than meets the eye. Something about Harper Lee’s lawyer made me really uncomfortable.

So, we made it through Go Set a Watchman. What did you think? Was in an enjoyable read?

Please let me know your impressions of the book and the documentary. And, if you’ve read any interesting articles about Harper Lee or the publication of this book, make sure to link to them in the comments so I can read more.

I hope you’ll all join me next month as we read The Butler: A Witness to History.

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

  1. Jane Engle

    Very much like you, the slap by Uncle Jack appears to be an unlikely cure all for Jean Louise’s sense of betrayal and hurt feelings. Coming from a family where any form of physical abuse to anyone was not acceptable, it is unbelievable to me that she would suddenly change her mind especially when she was the victim..

    While it was nice that she and Atticus could finally accept each other and their differences at the end, I also felt there was much more to be resolved between them if Jean Louise wanted to feel a part of her family who lived in Alabama.

    The documentary and bonus feature provided helpful information on the development of Harper Lee’s books but also left me with unresolved questions as to who and how much others were involved in the works attributed to her as author. I prefer to believe that “To Kill a Mockingbird” was her final and only book. A New York Times article was also one I found of interest regarding her editor. It is entitled “The Invisible Hand Behind Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’” I tried to provide a link but could not get it to work.

  2. Erin K.

    Jane, it’s so good to hear from you! I wondered where you were this month when I didn’t see a comment from you in the first couple of months.

    Thanks for sharing that article. It was a very interesting read. I agreed with the thought that Watchman is more like a series of anecdotes rather than a fleshed out novel. I definitely felt like the story was a little disjointed and didn’t really come together like a full novel.

    I agree with your assessment of the end of the book. I felt like Jean Louise would really need to have a change of attitude if she thought she could come home to live.

    Thanks for chiming in this month and for sharing that interesting article!

  3. Catrina Conley-Brookover

    I too thought the slap was strange and out of place. Some parts of the book seemed a little awkward. However, in saying that, I enjoyed this book. I was introduced to Harper Lee in High School and have read “To Kill a Mockingbird” several times. I always get more out of that book each time I read it. I look forward to re-reading this one as well.

    • Erin K.

      Catrina, I’m glad you enjoyed the book despite some of the awkward writing! Reading this made me want to re-read “Mockingbird”–I’m sure I would read it in a whole new way if I were to read it again after reading “Watchman.”

      Thanks for your comment!

  4. Carrol

    What a slap! It is hard to believe its immediate impact.

    I was glad Jean Louise and Atticus made up at the end of the book. He certainly did not deserve her verbal attack. I’m glad she realized her behavior was inappropriate and embarrassing. Atticus’s forgiving nature is exactly what I expected.

    I am glad I read the book even though I was disappointed with several parts of it. I still cannot believe that Harper Lee gave her blessing for its publication. I guess that debate will continue.

    • Erin K.

      Carrol, I keep hoping some long lost letter or diary entry will resurface, and it will tell us exactly what Harper Lee wanted done with all of her manuscripts and papers. But, I’m sure that won’t happen!

      Thanks for commenting along all month! I hope to hear from you next month as well!

  5. Caitlin E.

    Other than the meandering plot, the ending of Watchman presented the most glaring example of the “novel’s” first-draft status: abrupt as well as baffling. It was encouraging that Jean Louise and Atticus reconciled with each other, and so I didn’t understand why Harper Lee thought that Uncle Jack’s literal slap to the face was necessary in this story. More specifically, I didn’t appreciate that Lee reduced the character of independent, strong-willed Scout to a seemingly stereotypical, hysterical woman that had to have some sense slapped into her.

    The process by which Jean Louise came to understand the separation–and necessity of separation–between hers and her father’s conscience was the most interesting aspect of the story for me, and I think that could’ve provided a solid basis for a plot had it more properly been fleshed out.

    All in all Watchman was an intriguing read–mainly considering the issues of coming of age in a racially-charged culture–despite its flaws. But I’m still glad that the story we know as To Kill a Mockingbird eventually came out of it.

    • Erin K.

      Caitlin, I really like your last sentence of your first paragraph. I didn’t really think of the fact that the slap reduced Scout to hysterical woman status, but I totally agree with your assessment! Maybe that’s why the slap bothered me so much!

      I’m glad you were able to enjoy parts of the book. I think if I read it again, I would be able to enjoy more than I did in my first reading.

      Thanks for all of your great comments this month!

Comments are closed.