Four reasons I enjoyed “To Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee

by Rod Smith

1. Unlike “To Kill a Mockingbird” it’s a very quick and easy read. If you are very familiar with the Mockingbird it is somewhat of a joy to meet the characters (a few at least) later in life. Yes, I know, it was written earlier. I was very disappointed that there is very little of Jem and Dill, and nothing of several outstanding characters who I will not name given some who will read this may still want to read the novel. Perhaps they’ve not yet been “invented” by the time Harper Lee finished ‘Watchman” and then started “Mockingbird.”

2. “Watchman” allowed me to identify in ways with both Lee and Atticus. I had not been able to do this before. Both are superhuman in Mockingbird. In “Watchman” she’s an imperfect writer and Atticus is a flawed man. I found this comforting.

3. I LOVED the portrayal of the struggles the adult Scout has in visiting home from New York. Her Aunt, Uncle Jack, and Atticus – especially her aunt – have ways of tugging on her that she thought were long gone with her childhood. Their hold on her stupefies the adult Scout. The author clearly knows how difficult it is to go home. I was chuckling out loud at Harper Lee’s fine and humorous understanding and portrayal of the intricacies and difficulties of family process.

4. Jeanne Louise Finch has to do what we all have to do to become fully adult – perhaps separate for a while; make up our own minds about important matters; even reject our beginnings (although I believe this is far from essential). By the end of the novel she achieves it. Her journey is not pretty; her process is painful. Yet, it seems that despite her challenging manner and despite the conflicts that rage within her, her family accepts the necessary transitions and stands by her as she does what she has to do to become fully adult.

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