What I’m Looking Forward to in Harper Lee’s New Novel

In 1960, Harper Lee released her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel spans over three years and is told from the point of view of young Jean Louise Finch, also known as Scout. The novel centers around Scout’s father, Atticus, as he defends a black man who is accused of raping a white woman in the 1930’s Depression era. The novel quickly became a Pulitzer Prize winning work of fiction and was soon deemed an American classic.

This summer, fifty five years after the release of her first novel, Harper Lee will release her second novel. Entitled Go Set a Watchman, this novel will take place in the mid-fifties, about twenty years after To Kill a Mockingbird. It sounds like the novel will again be focused around Scout, as she returns to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father. According to the novel’s summary, she struggles with personal and political issues related to her father, the society she grew up in, and the town she seemed to leave behind.

I am really looking forward to seeing where the characters are in their lives twenty years after To Kill a Mockingbird. Is Atticus Finch still practicing law? From the sound of the summary, he never left Maycomb and I’m curious if he is still working as a lawyer. The summary mentions that Scout is returning home to visit her father, so this leads to the assumption that she moved away from Maycomb. I look forward to learning about the circumstances surrounding her departure and I am curious to see what kind of woman she has become. She was always described as a tomboy and it’ll be interesting to see how she transformed in twenty years. The summary of the novel suggests a strained relationship with her father and I think that this could lead to a very fascinating plot. The novel’s summary does not mention Scout’s older brother, Jem, but I would like to know if he stayed in Maycomb with his father or if he moved away like his sister did.

Although learning about the characters will be intriguing, I am really excited to see how the storyline coincides with real events in United States history. To Kill a Mockingbird focused on race relations in America and I hope that Go Set a Watchman does the same. Go Set a Watchman is set in the mid-fifties, which was a huge turning point in terms of civil rights. In May 1954, the Brown v. Board of Education verdict deemed segregation to be unconstitutional. In December 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on a city bus to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama. Her refusal and subsequent arrest resulted in the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, a boycott that lasted thirteen months. I hope that Lee incorporates these real events in her novel, especially since the Montgomery Bus Boycotts took place in the same state that Go Set a Watchman is based in.

To Kill a Mockingbird is an American classic and I have no doubt that the standards will be set high for Go Set a Watchman. I really look forward to the summer release of this novel and I intend on reading it as soon as it’s out.

Go Set a Watchman is set to release July 14, 2015. To view Go Set a Watchman on Amazon, click here.


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