Harper Lee’s New Novel, ‘Go Set A Watchman,’ Shows Racist Views Of Older Atticus Finch

Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set A Watchman, looks set to shock readers of To Kill A Mockingbird, showing a dark side of Atticus Finch, a staunchly moral figure in Mockingbird. In Watchman, which releases on July 14, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch returns to Maycomb, Alabama, 20 years after the events of Mockingbird, to find that Atticus’ views on race have changed entirely. The Washington Post reports that Atticus, in Mockingbird a defender of equal rights, is now a former Klansman, and is virulently against desegregation.

In a review in the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani revealed some statements made by Finch which will shock anyone who has read Mockingbird, or seen Gregory Peck’s noble performance in the film adaptation of Lee’s classic. Among the remarks made by Atticus is the following statement to Scout on desegregation.

“Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?”

In a related story from the Inquisitr, read about the fears state investigators had for Lee around Watchman‘s publication.

Atticus Finch, the famously staunchly moral figure from Mockingbird, now holds far different views.
Readers of Harper Lee's "To Kill A Mockingbird" are set to be shocked by Atticus Finch's views in Lee's new book, "Go Set A Watchman"

The Associated Press reports that HarperCollins, the novel’s publishers, have issued a statement on Lee’s new book, describing it as a “coming-of-age story.”

“At its heart, it is the coming-of-age story of a young woman who struggles to reconcile the saintly figure of her beloved father with her own more enlightened views.”

Scout’s anger towards the changed Atticus is obvious in Watchman, with her at one point telling him, “I despise you and everything you stand for,” the New York Times notes. It’s likely that many readers will share her views, and be shocked by the difference that 20 years has made to the man, once honorable, now plainly racist.

Although Go Set A Watchman is technically a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, it was in fact written by Harper Lee before her first novel made her a household name. The New York Times reports that Watchman was first submitted to publishers in 1957. According to the NPR, her editor wanted the story of Scout’s earlier years expanded, resulting in Mockingbird.

The BBC reports that Watchman is now Amazon’s most preordered book since Harry Potter andthe Deathly Hallows. It remains to be seen whether it will take its place alongside Mockingbird as a key piece of American literature.

Are you looking forward to Harper Lee’s new book? What are your thoughts on the changes made to Atticus Finch?

[Lead photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, book cover via Amazon.]