Thursday, September 3, 2015

So I finished Go Set a Watchman today

**Please note that there may be are spoilers in this post for Go Set a Watchman.  This is not a review.  I will not be discussing the quality of the work, but  will share my thoughts on and reactions to the book.  I haven't decided if I will write a review yet.  I don't know how fair it is to write a review of a book that is not finished.  

I read it.  I decided it was time.  I finished today and I'm a mix of emotions.  First, I'm dealing with my image and connections to Atticus.  As a reader, I have always connected deeply with my characters, sometimes forgetting that they aren't real people and aren't my friends.  Sometimes I become so completely immersed that as I'm reading I feel like I am the character. (And maybe I should keep some of this to myself in the future so I don't get the "crazy lady" side glances from people.)

So in my reading of To Kill A Mockingbird (which we HAVE to discuss when discussing Go Set a Watchman) I was Scout.  I experienced everything she did, learned what she did, looked up to Atticus like he was the most perfect and untouchable entity ever.  Even reading as an adult, I found new reasons to love Atticus Finch, thinking how wonderful he is as a father.  The last time I read it I was a new(er) parent and my understanding of him evolved, but in a way that allowed me to see him as a model of parenting.  He allowed his children to make mistakes and learn from them, he encouraged them to be active and play, he read to them whatever he was reading--no matter the material.  He is the type of parent I wish I could be.

And then I read GSAW, and this is is when I realized that I have seen myself as Scout.  I think I saw myself as her more than in TKAM.  I idolized Atticus, just as Jean Louise does and her Uncle Jack is the one who points this out to her (and therefore to me) as she is reeling from her discovery of who her father truly is.  I also reeled along with her and felt nauseated at these discoveries, and I had been given hints of this from reviews and articles discussing GSAW when it first came out.  Jean Louise had no hints, no warnings.

Jean Louise is on her way to accepting her father as a human with flaws.  At the very least, she is aware that her father isn't this perfect someone.  I am not there.  In fact, I am even angrier at him and at the whole idea of Atticus that has come crashing down.  Maybe I could accept it and move on if he wasn't so damn good at being a father--even despite this.  They knew.  Her father and her uncle had discussed the issue that Jean Louise would one day understand that her father was not the god she had made him to be.  They knew it would come and were concerned about how she would react and how they could help her.  And the kicker!  He is PROUD of her.  He tells her that he is proud of her because she stood up for her beliefs.  My heart hurts as I write this.  I want to hate him.  I don't like him at all now, but... but...

And this is where I am left.  I'm a little confused, very much heart broken, and with all these thoughts floating around in my head.

By the way, there is SO much more I want to say about this book.  I could write a ten page paper on this book and probably still have more to say. If I were in college right now, I would find a way to do an independent study on GSAW and TKAM.  So if you're an English major out there and your professor has already given you a paper to write on this topic, feel free to jump on this.  I would discuss race and Jean Louise's infuriating defense of her beliefs that still casts a negative light on the African Americans of her little town.  I would discuss Jean Louise's idolization of Atticus and connect that to TKAM, analyzing where and how that developed and how the reading of GSAW adds to and alters it.  I would discuss Uncle Jack because he confuses me.  A lot.  I think that was supposed to happen, but I don't know.  He was confusing.  I might talk about Hank...but probably not.  I don't care a wink about Hank.

Image Source: Goodreads

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