There has been a great deal of commentary swirling around the fact that a new novel, Go Set a Watchman, written by Harper Lee, will be published this summer. Harper Lee, now 88, wrote this novel prior to To Kill a Mockingbird. From what I’ve read, Go Set a Watchman is set during the 1950’s and is told from the point of view of an adult Scout remembering her childhood in rural Alabama.
So many articles have been written postulating that the elderly, reclusive Miss Lee is being taken advantage of by lawyers and publishers out for monetary gain. I don’t know. I don’t “walk in their shoes” as Atticus Finch once famously said.
It’s been years since I’ve read To Kill a Mockingbird. The current flurry of interest in the upcoming publication of the new book caused me to re-visit it. I wondered if scenes from the movie would overshadow the book, but the book is powerful enough to stand alone.
There’s a reason this book is a classic, and Harper Lee a recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. I’ve read this book multiple times. Even taught it to high school students during the early years of my career. I know the book well and was still captivated once again by the perfect recreation of time and place. The vivid description of a sleepy Southern town in the 1930’s with it’s rigid class structure. The people, who could have been stereotypes, but were given life and breath through the skill of her pen. The starkness of youthful innocence coming face to face with racial inequality.
I was amazed that something so familiar could move me so profoundly. Speaks volumes about the power of literature.