Set in the backdrop of racial discrimination in America, two decades after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird (TKAM), Go Set a Watchman (GSAW) tells the story of an adult Scout as she returns home to Maycomb County from New York, unaware of the truth that everything she holds dear will change forever.
As Scout adjusts to a fast-changing society, her perception of her neighbours, friends and family are forever altered. She must learn to adapt to the strange discoveries and deal with the prejudiced mind of the society. Moreover, simply put, GSAW is about growing up.
Truly, this is a great insight into the racial discrimination-era of American history; the perception of black and white, male and female and the right family name. What I loved most about the book were its flashbacks; which brilliantly makes an innocent comparison between the life of young Scout and adult Jean Louise Finch as well as the society then and society now.
The ideologies presented in the book, the conflict between characters and most of all, the entire internal conflict faced by Jean Louise as she learns the truth about everyone near her is outstanding. She feels cheated, humiliated and most of all betrayed by her father, Atticus Finch, the very man she looked up to, and the only man she knew to be true.
The protagonist, Jean Louise Finch, is a symbol of truth, feminism and speaks her mind, all the thing her father ever wanted her to be. She is brave and yet she cannot face the city and gives up. I especially loved the way moral conflicts and social conflicts are presented in the book, especially the part where Jean Louise get in a heated argument with Hank and then with Atticus.
Jean Louise says, “I need a watchman to tell me this is what a man says and this is what he means, to draw a line down the middle and say here is this justice and there is that justice and make me understand the difference.”
This one dialogue explains it all; everything from the hypocrisy to the prejudiced mind of the society. The most beautiful thing about GSAW is the way it takes you on a journey to the inside of a society, blinded with hatred.
The characters deployed in the book are simply marvellous, from Uncle Jack, who always has an answer for everything, to Hank trying to make a name of his own. GSAW has it all. Every line, every dialogue and every page stay with you until the very end. You just don’t want to let it go.
Making a comparison between TKAM and GSAW would be an insult to both the books. Although TKAM was published first, GSAW has always been Harper Lee’s first draft. And instead of viewing it as a sequel to TKAM, GSAW has definitely made a place for itself. Overall, it’s all about acceptance in both the books. TKAM shows the society through the eyes of young and innocent Scout while GSAW explains the changes through the eyes of a grown adult Jean Louise (Scout).
Overall, it’s a wonderful story and depicts the human flaws at its worst. It’s a book well crafted and intensely presented (after all we are talking about Harper Lee). A brilliant masterpiece it is, indeed.