Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Go Set a Watchman

Plot Summary Part 4

As Jack says, "The times your friends need you is when they're wrong, Jean Louise."

Jean Louise sees Atticus one last time. She tries to apologize but he interrupts her to tell her he is proud of her, presumably for finally stepping out and becoming her own person.  She finally starts to accept people for how they are and realizes she still loves Atticus very much. The end.



This book starts very, very slowly. It is not an exaggeration to say that not much of consequence happens in the first 100 pages, and the pace picks up only glacially after that.

We are treated to a lot of flashbacks of Scout playing games as a kid. Why is that relevant to the main storyline, about racism in the present and her disappointment with her father? Her father is not even in her flashbacks. It seems totally disjointed, like two different stories, and the flashback stories don't seem relevant. Scout dramatically learns in the present that her father has racist views. Then she immediately flashes back to the time she started bleeding from her v_gina. What does one have to do with the other? The answer: absolutely nothing. If To Kill a Mockingbird hadn't been a big hit, this manuscript would still be sitting in someone's attic.

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The other big problem with this book is that in order for it to work, you have to believe that Scout grew up without having any inkling of Atticus's real views towards blacks. She repeats that incredulously, but we, the readers, are incredulous as well. It is simply not believable, and this is the hook that the entire story hangs on.

A more well written story would have had flashbacks, if needed, connect to the present time story. And as for Atticus's "secret" racism, show Atticus being one way and then changing over time. That could be more credible than telling the reader "This is always how Atticus was, but no one, including his closest daughter, knew about it."


To Kill a Mockingbird comparison:

So, this book was a prequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, even though the events of the book take place after it.  The book was rejected so Harper Lee wrote To Kill a Mockingbird, which did get published. Why she never tried to get this book published after she became wildly successful is unclear; after the success of To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee could have published a laundry list and made money off of it.

In this book Scout's worthless brother Jem is killed off because Harper Lee had no use for him. The main part of the story is the Atticus-Scout dynamic. In TKAM Atticus was the great civil rights advocate for blacks. In this book Atticus is a not-so-closeted racist. From reading both books, we are now supposed to think that Atticus supported rights for blacks, but only up to a point. Atticus never saw blacks as equals, but at the same time didn't want one convicted for a crime he didn't commit. In TKAM characters were either good, or evil. In this book characters like Atticus are portrayed in shades of gray. Some people will be disappointed because the character of Atticus is being sullied. Others may like it because it presents a more realistic character who is neither entirely good nor entirely bad.

This book also had a lot more flashbacks to a different period (Scout's childhood), while TKAM was set in one time. TKAM was a lot more coherent because of it.

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