The Go Set a Watchman Dilemma

Harper Lee’s continuation of Scout Finch’s story, Go Set a Watchman came out last week.

I’m not ready.

But, I need to read it. I can’t imagine living in a world where Harper Lee has written words that I have not read. Cannot imagine there being facts about Scout, Jem and Atticus Finch that I don’t know.

And yet I’m terrified of these facts. Part of me wants to just keep them in between the pages of that one book, that one piece of perfection when they were amazing and they hadn’t broken my heart. Hadn’t disappointed me by having irredeemable flaws or grew up to have contradictory views.

Especially Atticus.

I’ve  been avoiding reading anything online about the new book since the first chapter was released and the tiny bit of information that got to me set a panic in me that is hard to explain. But I’ll try.

I lost my father at the age of twelve, when I was very aware of what roles they were supposed to have in my life, what their purpose was and knowing I would never have that. I started looking for, and finding father figures in books that I read, shows and movies that I watched. Fathers like Mr. Rogers (shut up, I know I was 12, but that was also the time I started babysitting and Mr. Rogers meant much more to me at 12 then he did at 6), Cliff Huxtable and Atticus Finch.

You see where I’m going with this, right? Even my fatherly role models die, drug girls and rape them and apparently join the KKK?

But Mr. Rogers could always stay perfect, like my true father could, because they’re dead and can no longer do horrific things. Atticus was in that place to, not because he died, but because his story ended and I was free to imagine him anyway I wanted. It helped that the man, Gregory Peck, who played him in the movies is also no longer with us and also didn’t do anything horrific–and was actually pretty Finch-ish himself.

And I know I can read it and disregard it, I can even feel morally superior to question it’s authenticity and if it were meant to be read at all.

Because here’s the real thing, if there is anyone I put on a higher pedestal than Atticus Finch, it’s Harper Lee herself. It’s really her that I want to keep safe and pure in the pages of that one book where she’s perfect and created perfect characters, where she hadn’t broken my heart.

Donald Uhrbrock—The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

What to do?

I’m going to read it. I can’t NOT read it.

But, I think I’m going to take my time with it. And then I’d like to come here and talk about it, cool? Please come with your own thoughts and feelings and we’ll get through this together, yes?

2 thoughts on “The Go Set a Watchman Dilemma

  1. Kerry

    I truly believe she never wanted this published. I respect anyone who does want to read it. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong, just what people feel comfortable with. And, because of my own control about my privacy issues, I don’t feel personally comfortable with it.

    1. Tamela J Ritter Post author

      I have so many conflicting emotions! I want more words, I really want them to come willingly from her! And I know there are questions about that and we’ll probably never know all the details.

      I still haven’t started it…

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