Go Set A Watchman, Harper Lee’s wildly anticipated second novel is nearly as riveting and empowering as Harper Lee’s classic To Kill A Mockingbird. The sequel, published fifty-five years after it’s original counterpart, lends a fresh perspective on the issues facing the Southern United States in the mid 1950s.
The boisterous and tomboyish Jean-Louise, nicknamed “Scout” is now twenty-six years old and both the character and the tone of Harper Lee’s writing have grown accordingly. Lee utilizes the tense political and historical setting of the 1950s to create conflict and reveal the ideals and values of each character. Lee also uses flashbacks to Jean-Louise’s childhood to lend contrast of the past to the novel’s present, showing how different Jean-Louise’s childhood mentality is, compared to the complexity of her adult thought-process and values. One of the central themes of Go set a Watchman is finding one’s own identity. When Jean-Louise and her father clash over society’s response to the issue of racial segregation, she discovers that people’s individual ideals and beliefs are what make up a person’s identity. Go Set A Watchman offers a fuller, more comprehensive view of the complexity of racial discrimination in Jean- Louise’s hometown and the United States as a whole.
This book was extremely insightful about the issue of racial injustice in the United States and would be a fascinating and insightful novel for any reader. However, due to the historical context and mature concepts of racial discrimination, maturation, and class and gender roles, the novel would be best fitted for a teenage to adult level audience. Also, readers should note that the words “nigger” and “Negro” are occasionally used to more authentically portray the culture of the mid 1950s Southern United States.