Goodbye, childhood: Atticus Finch was a Klan-loving racist this whole time

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Say goodbye to your childhood. This one hurts so much, because To Kill a Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch is considered by many to be one of the greatest characters of all time. He was a symbol of honesty and decency, the idolized father figure of American literature. The portrait of Atticus Finch was helped considerably by the perfect casting of Gregory Peck – the closest America has ever come to producing a perfect man – in the 1962 film version. TKAM is on the syllabus of nearly every American high school kid’s reading list, and many of us have re-read it (many times) with sheer enjoyment. And now that’s all gone.

Harper Lee never published another book after TKAM. She disappeared back to her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. She still wrote, of course, and months ago her publisher announced that they would be releasing a follow-up to TKAM called Go Set a Watchman. Watchman was apparently written before Mockingbird, but Lee reworked it over the years as well. Just FYI: even the announcement of the book was full of drama, with some questioning if Harper Lee even intended to have this book published, and there was an unsubtle argument being made that Lee might not be quite “with it” mentally. But the book is coming out this week, come hell or high water. And The New York Times published an early review and it is… disturbing.

Go Set a Watchman takes place in the 1950s, with Scout as a young adult (Scout is apparently 26 years old). Apparently, Atticus Finch isn’t happy with the government during this era, what with all of the attempts to desegregate schools (Brown v. Board of Education) and eliminate Jim Crow laws. He hates the NAACP and slams the Supreme Court. 1950s Atticus Finch went to a Klan meeting once and says things like “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?” The book is once again told by Scout’s perspective as she returns to home to Alabama after several years in New York. She’s taken aback by what her father says, so at least there’s that. It’s about a different kind of coming of age: realizing that the man you idolized, your only living parent, is a racist douche.

Spoiler for Go Set a Watchman is below
Oh, and here’s another massive SPOILER that sort of upsets me more than “Atticus is a racist now”: Jem is apparently dead. Jesus, Harper Lee!!!! Was he murdered by Boo Radley?! YOU ARE KILLING ME.

You can read the NYT’s spoiler-tastic and depressing review here.

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Gregory Peck, Collin Wilcox Paxton, Paul Fix

Photos courtesy of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, WENN, IMDB.

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164 Responses to “Goodbye, childhood: Atticus Finch was a Klan-loving racist this whole time”

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  1. Sullivan says:

    I’m going to take a pass on this book.

    • Courtney says:

      Me too. And I read everything.

    • manda says:

      me too, there’s a reason it wasn’t published originally. And the only reason it’s being published now is bc of the popularity of mockingbird

      • Suzy from Ontario says:

        The reason it’s being published now is greed. Apparently Harper didn’t want it published and her sister, who was her lawyer, made sure it was not published. Recently her sister died and within weeks I heard, it was set to be published. Makes me think that whoever is inheriting the estate was looking for a much bigger payout when Harper finally dies! (which probably won’t be too much longer). And I’m sure the publisher was eager to publish because they’d make a ton as well…To Kill a Mockingbird was so loved that people will buy it just because and everyone makes money. Still, if Harper and her sister never wanted it published, then maybe she should have put that in writing alongwith the manuscript and locked it away in a safety deposit box somewhere. Even then, eventually it would’ve passed into the hands of someone who likely would have sought to have it published, so really if she was adamant about not wanting it to see the light of day then she should have simply destroyed the manuscript, otherwise it was probably going to be published at some point.

      • Beatrice says:

        Suzy–Well said. I am disturbed that a book that Harper Lee didn’t want published is now making it’s debut. It seems like exploitation of an elderly woman–and of course greed by those who should be protecting her. I don’t think I’ll buy it.

      • pf says:

        Supposedly the typed manuscript of Go Set a Watchman was found in 2011 in a safe deposit box in a bank in Lee’s hometown of Monroeville. So there goes your safe deposit box idea, Suzy. I think this thing is very suspicious and doesn’t sit right with me. Her sister dies, who supposedly was her caretaker, and then it’s announced this book is coming out. It was also written before TKAM (it is the original version of the famous book) so maybe there’s a reason why it was rejected by publishers over 55 years ago and never came out so Lee could write TKAM instead. Devoted readers of TKAM should reject this book not just because it ruins TKAM but it’s obviously a money grab.

      • boredblond says:

        There’s something odd about this..nyt story says the lawyer ‘found’ the manuscript..do you lose something that’s the basis of your finest work? Coercion, age related problems..just seems off, and no, I won’t be reading it.

      • FLORC says:

        Suzy
        Entirely!
        Ugh, Greed strikes again.
        Not reading this.

      • Liberty says:

        GREED wins. The awful way this got published, per CNN:

        “Lee’s attorney, Tonja Carter, hinted Monday in an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that the reclusive author may have written a third novel.
        It was Carter, Lee’s lawyer, who stumbled upon the manuscript in August. She had been going through Lee’s safe-deposit box after hearing her family talk about a possible second novel.

        “Carter, who took over Lee’s legal affairs after sister Alice Lee died in 2014, then negotiated with HarperCollins to publish “Watchman.”

        “Now 89, Lee resides in an assisted-living community in Alabama and is reported to be hard of hearing and nearly blind after a stroke in 2007.”

        http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/13/living/feat-harper-lee-mockingbird-watchman-third-novel/index.html

        AND IF YOU WANT MORE of a cringe-worthy example of an elderly woman POSSIBLY being taken advantage of, read this from Wall Street Journal:

        The Monroeville attorney, Tonja Brooks Carter, came to know Ms. Lee through her legal work with Ms. Lee’s sister, Alice Lee, a lawyer who died two and a half months ago at the age of 103.

        It was a moment of serendipity that led to the blockbuster literary news, one in which Ms. Carter played a key role, the publisher says.

        Ms. Carter didn’t respond to a request for comment.
        Mr. Dusen said in a New York Magazine interview that Ms. Carter is the go-between for HarperCollins and the 88-year-old Ms. Lee, who resides in a Monroeville, Ala. assisted-living facility and, according to court documents filed by Ms. Lee’s lawyers, has trouble hearing and seeing.

        “It’s easier for the lawyer to go see her in the nursing home and say HarperCollins would like to do this and do that and get her permission,” he told the magazine. “That’s the only reason nobody’s in touch with her. I’m told it’s very difficult to talk to her.”

        Mr. Dusen declined to comment to Law Blog.

        LINK: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2015/02/04/meet-the-lawyer-who-found-harper-lees-new-novel/

      • Luce says:

        There are tons of indications that this is a very sketchy and sleazy agenda behind this “found” novel. Harper Lee is elderly and incapacitated. Her sister dies and vultures are taking advantage and ruining a noble character that is one of the best-written protagonist in literature. She was able to write Atticus without being syrupy, yet truly representing integrity. It has nothing to do with “realism” in that the novel is a classic that touches people of all stripes. My mother and sister are English teachers and both will attest that every class they have had from the most struggling readers to behavior problems to AP students of all stripes and economic income brackets love this novel and what it represents. Those behind it are greed-mongers and the authenticity cannot even be fully verified because the mediaries are suspect at best.

    • Skinnyguy says:

      I’m sorry but this is getting blown out of proportion. Mockingbird was told by Scout’s point of view as a child…it will be interesting to see how her views of her father will change now that he’s a racist. Also, we don’t know how he’ll change by the end of the book, or what has happened in his life to become like this. I’m still giving this book a chance. Now if he remains a racist the whole story and has no reasoning, then I’ll be mad. People need to chill until book comes out

      EDIT: I also know that this was supposedly an “original draft” of mockingbird and not exactly a sequel…but I would think she’s edited, re-written parts, etc. since years ago when she didn’t publish it. Like I don’t think she just pulled out the draft and sent the exact draft to be published. I don’t know, ultimately I say don’t bash until the book comes out and we’ve read it.

      • Greata says:

        @Skinnyguy…This! I am more troubled by the idea that an elderly woman was taken advantage of by lawyers, and an overly zealous/GREEDY publishing house. Atticus to me of TKAMB remains untouchable….always will.

      • LadyMTL says:

        I agree, I’m more upset / angry about the fact that Harper Lee might have been used by publishers, lawyers, and etc just to make a quick buck than the fact that Atticus might be a massive tool. Anyway, I won’t judge the novel until I’ve read it.

      • nina says:

        Agree. For the time and place, this just sounds like a more flawed ans humanized version of finch who like many of his generation found the civil rights movement threatening and going too far.

      • pf says:

        No, supposedly it is the original draft and hasn’t been touched since it was found in 2011 in a safe deposit box. Lee did not rewrite or edit it at all.

      • Jib says:

        I read the NY Times review and the comments, which are always thoughtful and intelligent. Two things: TKAM was told from a child’s point of view, perhaps skewed? Someone asked that if an earlier version of David was found, short and lumpy, would it make the version we know less beautiful? MAybe the early version was the unedited truth. And secondly, TKAM gave us what we wanted – a hero to fight racism, to make us all feel better. One more thing – and I Have taught this books for years, but this comment on the NY Times article still made me think. Atticus was a hero in the court case but Calpurnia still used the back door and his kids went to segregated schools. So he really was a man of his times.

        Saints only exist in catechisms. Not the real world.

    • Wren says:

      Same. I loved TKAM, I’m not going to ruin it with this further development. It feels like when a favorite TV show goes off the rails, killing your favorite character and just generally going to hell. There’s a few I don’t watch past a certain season because the writers ruined it for me.

      • Crumpet says:

        I agree. As I am reading more of the back story to this, I see that Harper is not behind any of this. I will not let the greedy mofoes ruin a national treasure for me in the name of the almighty dollar.

    • Heat says:

      Me too…and I’m sad to say it; I was originally really looking forward to the follow-up book.

      • kiran says:

        Financial exploitation is just one type of abuse of the elderly. Sadly, elder abuse (and neglect) is more common than most people realize.

    • Nicole says:

      I decided to pass on it way back when it was announced it was being publish. Its WAY to fishy that the book was “discovered” after Harper’s sister passed away. This reeks of greed and now tons of people are having their views on a classic turned upside down. TKAM is one of my favorite books and I will not ruin it with this crap

    • Ravensdaughter says:

      Gregory Peck is seared in my mind as Atticus-the two are inseparable in my mind. Atticus Finch was a hero in the book and the movie, and that’s how he will remain as far as I’m concerned.
      Also, I agree with the posters who say the circumstances of publishing the book now the book seem fishy. I get the impression that someone forced Harper Lee’s hand as far as publishing it, i.e. she’s not all there.
      The NYT review asserts that “Mockingbird” began as “Watchman”-that actually makes sense.
      Why didn’t those involved leave us with our perfect Atticus world?

      • Ravensdaughter says:

        I didn’t realize that Ms. Lee didn’t own the rights to the manuscript-she signed them away to the publisher?
        I just wanted to comment about character. I think if “Mockingbird” had not been made into a movie with Gregory Peck playing the role of a lifetime, we might not cling so tightly to the Atticus we remember.

    • LA Juice says:

      +One Million. i will never read this.

      Its clear to me that Harper Lee did not want the book published, nor did her long time publisher/editor, who is now (I believe) dead. In fact, in 2011 or 2012, Harper Lee took to the papers complaining that no publisher would publish To Kill a Mockingbird. I bet that was even discussed here at Celebitchy. If she had wanted money or publication at that time, she could have then released Watchman. But she didn’t. I believe its because she clearly understood how important Atticus Finch as a beacon of justice and equality in TKAM was to our culture and civil rights psyche. But these horrible executors and trustees have destroyed that. its unforgivable and insufferable.

      Harper and her original publisher had enough sense to realize that Atticus Finch was an important american Literary hero, as portrayed in TKAM, and that we should not besmirch that legacy. What is happening here is a travesty.

    • MET says:

      If I didn’t read it, it isn’t so :-)
      If interested you can read the 1st Chapter on The Guardian http://www.theguardian.com/books/ng-interactive/2015/jul/10/go-set-a-watchman-read-the-first-chapter

    • Maria A. says:

      Me also. I’m sticking with what the publisher originally requested from and got from Harper Lee.

  2. Pinky says:

    There’s a new piece discussing how Lee’s editor helped her turn her moribund tale into an uplifting one that would resonate more with the public. THAT’S the power of having a good editor, folks.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/13/books/the-invisible-hand-behind-harper-lees-to-kill-a-mockingbird.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

    • Crumpet says:

      Thank you for this Pinky. I have to say I am rather aghast that Harper Lee is going to come out and smash everything that That To Kill A Mockingbird was about. It is not her place to do that, IMO. She doesn’t own the story (especially since it doesn’t even seem that she actually wrote it) and she doesn’t get to smash it to smithereens either. I (for one) will not read her second book.

      • Anna says:

        Have you not been paying attention? Harper Lee has NEVER wanted this published. She assigned her lawyer sister with the job of actively KEEPING it from being published. Once her sister died, the manuscript was found and published despite Lee’s wishes. Harper Lee is still alive, but is 89 (!) years old and has yet to ever indicate she changed her mind about wanting this published.

        Don’t blame Harper Lee for “smashing everything,” blame her money-grubbing publisher.

      • Luce says:

        Exactly, Anna. Harper Lee is elderly, in a nursing home, and fairly incapacitated. She does not have her own power of attorney, nor has she sanctioned this. She was always a novice writer and Pinky is exactly correct that editors are underrated as this classic would never have been so without this excellent editor’s contributions.

  3. Aussie girl says:

    I’m really not sure how to take this or how this even works!!! TKAM is one of my all time favourite books.

    • Erinn says:

      I had heard that Atticus might have Alzheimers or something in this book? Maybe that’s the issue? Who knows. I think I’ll pass unfortunately.

      • Size Does Matter says:

        That is kind of what I was hoping. That maybe he has dementia and has become idealistically combative. I read the first chapter. I don’t think I will read the rest. But I will re-read the original.

    • We Are All Made of Stars says:

      You just ignore the hell out of it like all other desperate and crappy plot turns by writers and directors trying to squeeze a few too many more miles out of their material. We can all come up with a litany of characters in our minds who are still alive, well, married, rich, heroic, chastened or whatever despite the later plot turns needlessly inflicted upon their lives.

  4. lisa2 says:

    Maybe it should be that people shouldn’t have idolized a fictional character that someone created from their imagination.. Therefore THEY can also create a different personality for that character.

    He is a book character.. Only real on the page. I still love TKAMB and the movie.. but I never took that character to be anything more than it was.. A character in a book

    • Debbie says:

      Are you kidding? You understand the importance of literature don’t you? That value of connecting to characters on a page? The fact you can learn from those characters? See their experience because you probabaly never will have it.

      To kill a mockingbird represented the beauty of the human spirit, the best and worst of us. The challenges we face as humans to grow and be better to have all that in a book at that time was amazing. It should not be undone.

      • lisa2 says:

        Please don’t do that..

        As someone who writes yes I understand the importance of literature and how people emotionally connect to characters. I do as well.. Then I step back at times and realize that they are characters .. and I am a lover of this book.. but the fact that in this new book the fictional character is not what people thought or want is what I am speaking too. If you don’t like the way this book portrays that character.. then don’t read and do allow it to diminish what you feel for the first one. The book is out there now.. People can cray and scream..doesn’t matter.

        You don’t have to agree with me; but MY opinion is not wrong because you don’t like it

      • Anne says:

        @lisa2 You’re not wrong, but I don’t think she is saying that you are. She’s just disagreeing with you strongly and expressing her own opinion in a dramatic way.
        If her response makes you feel that you are not entitled to your own experience, that’s one thing, but it’s not something she necessarily intends.

      • Shoe_Lover says:

        Debbie thank you thank you thank you. you have put into words what i couldn’t convey.

        Lisa, fictional characters are very important for some of us. They can be the role models we didn’t have in real life, the thing that empower us to do the right thing and really live. for some of us books and films are what we escape into when things are bad. and not just a bit bad but hiding in your closet with a torch and a book bad because your parent is in a rage again and you want to stay as far out of the way as possible and the book is where you escape to. so i understand your stance and opinion but it isn’t whats true for everyone else. yes he’s a character in a book but he’s more then that for so many

    • Erinn says:

      Yeaaahh… I don’t think anyone isn’t aware that he’s a character from a book. The thing is – people can be inspired by great books. They can be inspired by amazing characters. Books get people through hard times – some characters are just beloved. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. The issue is that Atticus was a hugely iconic character pushing for justice in a time filled with prejudice. Atticus Finch was created to be champion for underdogs. Half of what made this character seems like it’s been completely changed – which is weird. It’s not a normal level of change that you’ll see in character development- it goes against the grain of everything the character was. People are going to be upset.

      • Wren says:

        As an avid reader, I agree. Of course he’s just a fictional character in a book, but please, fictional characters can have an enormous impact on people’s lives. More so than the real people in our lives sometimes. I hate when authors don’t understand or willfully ignore that. This is a classic case of a work that stands on its own and does not need anything else to augment it.

    • Near23 says:

      I see Lisa2 point.

      Looks at the Twilight fans they idolize the book characters so much that they believe the actors who played them are the character in real life. They believe that because in the book/movie Bella and Edward have a child that Rob and Kristen have a child too. These people don’t get that their imaginary charaters and sadly they not just teenage but grown a$$ woman.

    • klein says:

      @lisa2 I know what you mean; I think it’s a pretty good point myself. I love literature but I always stop to remind myself that I am ultimately reading fiction and the actions and feelings of the characters are a reflection of the author and how they see different people, not of a real range of individuals.

    • Jane's Wasted Talent says:

      @lisa2-

      To me, the difference lies between the appreciation of entertainment, versus the appreciation of art. As readers (or consumers of other media) we can get very attached to characters that are only intended for entertainment, and in cases like that your reaction is understandable and I agree with it. But that isn’t what we are discussing here. Art is different, art is our attempt to portray or capture universal truths or ideals; it lifts us to a higher understanding, it inspires us, it can change lives. Perhaps this particular work of art didn’t resonate with you, and thus you see it as you would a work that only has entertainment value. But that isn’t the case for millions of readers.

    • Carmen says:

      Thank you, Lisa. I posted this comment on another forum and will repeat it here:

      Atticus Finch didn’t turn into a racist, he ALWAYS WAS a racist. Just like most white people in this country were racists in the mid-1900s, not only in the South but also in the North and West. Atticus defended a black man accused of rape out of sense of justice and decency because he knew the man was innocent and deserved a good defense. But he was never a standard-bearer for integration or social justice or civil rights, and it is blatantly unfair to Harper Lee for her readers to try to turn him into one. He lived in a completely segregated environment, sending his children to all-white schools and Calpurnia still had to enter the house through the back door, and he was fine with all of that. In fact, Scout Finch herself accepted segregation as the natural order of things when she was a child. When she moved up North her outlook changed. Atticus Finch, who evidently never traveled outside of Alabama, remained stuck in Maycomb all his life and stuck in his ways as well. Harper Lee never said Atticus was a saint, it was her readers who turned him into a saint. His dark side was always there. She just didn’t bring it out in the first book. Now we have to look at it and decide if we can face it or not.

      • blue marie says:

        You said it better than I could Carmen

      • lisa2 says:

        Thanks for your comment. You worded it better than I did.

      • jwoolman says:

        Exactly. The two aspects of the character are not incompatible at all. Abraham Lincoln didn’t like slavery and did not personally own other people, but he certainly was not an egalitarian (as Sojourner Truth discovered to her dismay when she finally met him). Atticus was against false charges of rape and railroading a man of any color and definitely he was against lynching. But that doesn’t mean he couldn’t simultaneously agree with segregation and believe it was a good and necessary system and God forbid a dark skinned man marry his daughter or join his church . Bizarre thinking to us now, but that’s why the system stood for so long. I think Washington DC was still segregated when I was born. The Soviets even tried to quite justifiably (tit for tat though it was) make US segregation a human rights issue which needed to be resolved as a precondition for arms control agreements, but the U.S. government insisted it was an internal matter and nobody else’s business (sound familiar?). The U.S. military was segregated until sometime in the 1940s (early 1950s?) also. While I was growing up, black children were being harassed by full grown adults as they walked into desegregated schools (when they weren’t being killed for such things). There was an undercurrent of acceptance of the status quo and the fight against changing it even by those who never would kill, harm, or harrass themselves, and that supported segregation and made the vicious ones feel like heroes. This is a common theme in human history.

      • Londonfields says:

        Bravo Lisa2 and Carmen. Totally agree with you both. I find the majority of the responses on this thread surprising, and frankly a little disturbing. Lovely to read your measured, thoughtful responses.

      • lou says:

        The issue isn’t really about Atticus’s character, though. It’s about whether this should even have been published. Look into the backstory. Harper Lee didn’t want this for 50 years, then suddenly her lawyer/sister dies and the next lawyer magically “discovers” it in Lee’s safety deposit box? Shady.

  5. Katydid20 says:

    TKAM was never one of my favorites but man this sounds depressing. it almost sounds like it would have been better if this sequel was never published

    • Pinky says:

      It’s not a sequel. It’s the original version of the book. It’s what Haper Lee initially submitted to the publisher to have published, that her editor, Therese von Hohoff Torrey, worked with her on, and was eventually published as To Kill a Mockingbird. It is an exceptional study on the author-editor relationship, at the very least, when one considers what the book was and what it became through the editor’s guidance during that point in history. Fascinating.

  6. Debbie says:

    Why write this and more importantly why publish it knowing the acclaimed and importance of to kill a mockingbird? Seems dangerous

    • Pinky says:

      This book IS To Kill a Mockingbird–at least, it’s her first draft of it, which her editor helped guide her to become the book we know and love. It’s not a sequel, and it’s not even really a prequel. It’s kind more akin to fan fiction or a re-imagning, where you take characters you already know and do something else with them utilizing the same or similar facts and characteristics established in the “original.” Though this, in actuality, IS the original. Confusing, I know!

    • Chaucer says:

      This is a really interesting topic amongst the writing community. Should writers be publishing sequels to your favorte childhood books? On one hand, it is THEIR property, and they have a right to do that. On the opposite hand, it often ruins perceptions of what happens after in that universe, and can blow up in their faces. E.g. those who have read Harry Potter often have clear fan theories about what the characters go on to face, and do with their lives. J.K. Rowling writing a sequel book is something that would both be popular, but could potentially ruin everything she worked for in the first 8 books. Hell, we saw it with the last chapter and the trio’s children’s names.

      There are some really fascinating articles about whether or not authors have the obligation to leave their original works to rest.

      • Carmen says:

        But then you have to ask yourself is it the author’s fault that her readers put a character on a pedestal she never intended? Lee didn’t write Atticus Finch as a saint, her readers made him into one.

      • Chaucer says:

        Exactly, Carmen. I think often about how with the age of the internet, fan-fic/art has obviously blown up much more with the ability to share your love and ideas about the character. The issue is that people pull from canon fic to put their favorite characters on a pedestal, and in doing so make the behaviors canon in a sense. E.g. there’s a very popular theory in Supernatural, that John Winchester was physically/emotionally/sexually abusive to his sons. When you watch the show, his behaviors fit the theory, but nothing explicitly states it. The Johnlock ship does the same thing.

        So instead of taking the characters at face value, or even pulling from them just a bit, you get these absolutely rabid fans who pretty much force the issue and tweak the characters to their own liking.

        It’s a really interesting generational thing.

  7. Norman Bates' Mother says:

    Nope. *lalalalala, I can’t hear you*

    • InvaderTak says:

      Exactly. Why publish this? Tkam is one of the greatest pieces of American lit.

    • NUTBALLS says:

      I don’t think I could read this book without it undermining the effect of TKAM for me. The power of memory is too strong.

      It sounds more like a greedy publishing house looking to make a fast buck on a known name.

    • j.eyre says:

      Exactly my reaction.

      Except I am not shutting my eyes. I never shut my eyes when Gregory Peck is in frame.

  8. GiGi says:

    The story is that she wrote and submitted this book and then was directed by the publisher to focus her story on a younger Scout. Many people think that Go Set a Watchman is the book she wanted published and that To Kill a Mockingbird is just the one that got published.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      Exactly. In this way I feel kinda bad for her since this was her of original vision and TKAM was something hastilly made to satisfy her publisher. It must suck (for whatever she’s aware) for people to say they refuse to see it because it’ll tarnish their image of fictional characters.

      • Luce says:

        Whatever revisions were made to TKAM were what made it a classic. As for Lee, if she had wanted this version published, she wouldn’t have had it locked away for years only to have it “discovered” by those who can profiteer from it now that she no longer has control of her estate.

      • lou says:

        Exactly, Luce. If Harper Lee had wanted it published, she couldn’t have done so at any time over the last half-century. The timing is mega-shady.

  9. BengalCat2000 says:

    I was in Monroeville last week and toured the courthouse and the remains of Truman Capote’s old home. It was very cool (I’m a Capote freak), and I’m rereading TKAM.
    This new book bothers me because I don’t think Harper Lee ever wanted it released. I find it odd that once her sister died, all of a sudden she changes her mind?! The whole thing feels sketchy as hell.

    • manda says:

      Isn’t the courthouse gorgeous??? Every year, a local acting troupe does TKAM at the courthouse, my dad was picked out of the crown to be on the jury.

      The town has seen better days for sure.

      • BengalCat2000 says:

        It is!! I took so many pictures and my friend and I explored the town itself. I would love to see the play there. So much history and beauty.

  10. kcarp says:

    If this was meant to be published it would have happened many years ago.

    Harper Lee’s lawyer sister died and suddenly this manuscript was discovered? Sounds to me like a bunch of publishers want to make a quick buck and who cares if they take down a great work of literature. Rather thank read this how about people compare and contrast the writing styles of Harper Lee and Truman Capote. Did Harper Lee actually ghost write some of Capote’s greatest works? At least by getting into this debate you will be reading and considering great books.

    I am not paying to read this book and help line the pockets of these publishers and lawyers.

    • BengalCat2000 says:

      I doubt Capote’s ego would have allowed him to let her write anything, but we’ll never really know. He was jealous that she won the Pulitzer and he didn’t. I’ve read everything Capote has written and find their styles very different. It still amazes me these two grew up together. Both created characters based on one another. She was the tomboy in Other Voices Other Rooms and of course, he was Dill in TKAM.

      • kcarp says:

        I think both of them are so fascinating. It is crazy they grew up together, it is like she is a spinster aunt from the deep South while he is this flamboyant fabulous New Yorker.

        I recently read Breakfast at Tiffany’s for the first time. I had no idea what it would be about. I imagined it would be about a confident woman who wore expensive clothes and Tiffany jewelry, it was very different than I thought it would be. In blows my mind that In Cold Blood was a true crime book, the way the story was told read like fiction.

    • Pedro45 says:

      I always thought the gossip was that Capote ghosted TKAM and not the other way around? I don’t believe it but it probably would have been a better book if he had. But then, I love Capote and was always underwhelmed by TKAM.

      • insomniac says:

        Yes, that’s the gossip. And I find it preposterous. Capote was a raging egomaniac who had no problem at all with turning on friends, and if something he’d secretly written for someone else won a Pulitzer while nothing he wrote under his own name did? Dude would have been taking out giant billboards in Times Square announcing that he was the real author of TKAM. And I like both his writing and TKAM.

      • DiamondGirl says:

        I believe that. And I believe that she paid him back by writing In Cold Blood, which is soooo not his style but could easily have been hers as a lawyer.

    • Jen43 says:

      Exactly. The drama surrounding this book has been happening for a while. IIRC, Ms. Lee never wanted this book published because it would have been published years ago if she consented. Now, she is no longer mentally capable of making decisions, and its being published.

    • Isabelle says:

      A court just a few months ago found her fully mentally capable & aware enough to release the book. She gave her permission to release it & wanted it released. She is part of the reason why it is being released. Its possible her sister was a road block that Harper never really wanted?

      • Jen43 says:

        I thought that her sister was protecting her, and find it odd that she would want to ruin the legacy of Atticus. I guess TKAM won’t get read anymore. It was such a great book.

        I question why she would want it released , if indeed, she does want it released. I suspect she isn’t thinking clearly no matter what the courts rule.

  11. Kay says:

    I’m just going to pretend this book didn’t happen, and persist in my delusion that Atticus Finch isn’t a racist. It hurts my heart too much to think otherwise.

  12. Mia4S says:

    Yeah I won’t be reading this, the world is disappointing enough as it is when you grow up.

  13. Mispronounced Name Dropper says:

    Meh. I was more disturbed by the lack of milk for my coffee and Weet Bix this morning. I had to settle for coffee and toast.

  14. Iknowwhatboyslike says:

    This book was not meant to be a sequel to TKAM. It was written first and was then scrapped by Ms. Lee and her publisher. This first draft of Atticus Finch is not the Atticus, Lee intened for us to see. She wrote this version first, then thought better of it. In my mind, this isn’t Atticus. This is alternate universe, Atticus.

  15. Belle Epoch says:

    I haven’t read the chapter, but It seems that she wrote the better book second, and she absolutely refused to publish the first during her lifetime. Maybe her thoughts about the characters changed when she went back in time to write the first book? It’s very odd.

    The circumstances around the publication of this book are disturbing. HarperCollins will make $40 million if the first print run sells out. There are inconsistencies in how/when the manuscript was “discovered,” and serious ethical questions about a senile old lady being manipulated so others can profit. Once again, greed wins.

    • Isabelle says:

      The editors really tweeked TKAMB. Makes you wonder if it had these the same themes but the editors cut it out. This one was released with no editing, per Harpers request. She didn’t want Watchman to be edited,which is probably why its a very different story.

    • Jen43 says:

      Disturbing is the best word to describe this situation. Considering her age, I assume she isn’t thinking clearly.

      If she were a younger lady, I would assume she was looking for another chance at fame. A her age, I would think she would be more concerned with her legacy.

  16. Iggs says:

    As a black woman, I really don’t care that a white savior literary character is revealed to have racist views in a later work by the same author. The whole trope is offensive to me. This quote sums it up:

    “These story lines insinuate that people of color have no ability to rescue themselves. This both makes white audiences feel good about themselves by portraying them as benevolent messiahs (rather than hegemonic conquerors), and depicts people of color as helpless weaklings—all while wrapping such tripe in the cinematic argot of liberation.”

    • Mispronounced Name Dropper says:

      Indeed. And middle-class white liberals excel at such behavior.

      • Pedro45 says:

        I am a middle-class white liberal and I agree with both of you. I never thought Atticus seemed even remotely believable and always found his character, and the book in general, to be one-dimensional and unrealistic.

      • Trashaddict says:

        Because all white middle-class liberals are the same and think exactly the same way, right?

    • Sixer says:

      But – and here, I’m assuming that both books portray the original intent of Lee, which we can see is in debate, but I’ll assume, nonetheless….

      Doesn’t Watchman therefore explode the white saviour trope? In Mockingbird, you assume a white saviour because a lawyer is merely doing his job in attempting to get an innocent man acquitted and because his story is told through the prism of an adoring child. Watchman would then be the reveal – there’s nothing anti-racist about a white saviour because they still withhold agency from people whose right it is to have it. So let’s see, when it really gets down to ceding agency, if Atticus Finch is up to it? And, lo and behold, he isn’t.

      Mockingbird was a precious book to me as a child. But I have to say that the idea of Watchman doesn’t disappoint me. It makes me think Lee was much more on the ball than the grown-up me had credited her to be.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        Well said. This is actually why I find this book fascinating because it crumples the image of the perfect white lawyer and explores what could have happened to change him. Maybe it’s age, maybe mental, maybe perception just changed after so many years of living in a deeply racist and divided south.

        There’ve been many figures in our own reality who were revealed to have a hypocrisy or a change of heart about racism, sometimes for the worse.

      • Tara says:

        I agree Sixer. It sounds like the Watchmen book expands the conversation, uncomfortably. I obviously don’t know Harper Lee’s intent, however I can believe an author who wrote something that examined the complexities and imperfections of an era might eventually want that work to see the light of day, even if some pedestals get broken.

    • Danskins says:

      @ Iggs – great point!

      I’ve always found TKAM to be offensive on some level because it portrays POC as helpless victims who need rescuing by white saviors. The story never resonated with me for this reason. How many times have we seen this tired narrative play out before in other novels and films? Countless times.

    • DiamondGirl says:

      But I don’t think TKAM makes white people look good at all. Tom wasn’t saved, despite efforts by Atticus. Atticus was assigned to the case; he didn’t really want to do it.

      Back in the 30s, it was probably unlikely, unfortunately, that Tom could be saved by other black people.

      • Kitten says:

        ITA with you and Sixer.
        I feel like the historical context is important here–this isn’t like The Blind Side or Crash or whatever.

        That doesn’t negate the fact that the white savior trope needs to be put to rest though.

    • Maria A. says:

      As a writer, this new view of Atticus just gives me whiplash….which is why I won’t read the original and rejected variation of Harper’s book: I think her editor had the right idea to rewrite it. It happens when you’re writing fiction that a character will take on a determined life of his or her own and i suspect that’s what happened when she rewrote Watchman into Mockingbird. For this earlier version of Atticus to be inflicted on the reading imagination is illogical from a writer’s standpoint, so no wonder readers are reacting badly to it.

  17. Talie says:

    This is why I don’t believe that Harper wanted this published. An editor came in, read this and told her to take it in another direction. There was a reason for that.

    Also, the audiobook. I wish they would’ve gotten Julia Roberts or Jessica Lange.

  18. Mary says:

    The main problem I have with this is whether Harper Lee even actually wanted this published at all. I read that there was some sort of trial because someone thought that she was being taken advantage of. Nothing came of the trial, but I still have my doubts. The first article I read over the weekend was an interview given by her lawyer saying how she had found the book and thought it needed to be published. Why would the lawyer have any say at all? Why is she being interviewed? This is Harper Lee’s work. If she wanted it to be published, wouldn’t she have done so many years ago? Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, but I hate when the elderly are being taken advantage of.

  19. insomniac says:

    I’ll probably read it just out of sheer curiosity (and because I want to make up my own mind about it), but there’s probably a reason nobody published it when she first shopped it around.

  20. pretty says:

    as a non american, i tried to read this book because it seemed like a popular book. i gave up after about 7 pages. it was full of names of places, references to wars(?), locations etc like it completely flew over my head. and i have no problem reading modern books obviousy but it was so hard to understand. oh yeah i read catcher in the rey or riay or something with no problem! but this mockingbird book… eh

  21. K.B. says:

    Good. I’m tired of people fawning over this book. 99% of people who claim it’s their favorite book are only saying it to sound smarter. Just because one of your teachers spoon fed it to you when you were in high school is no reason to claim it’s your favorite. Especially when the bulk of the reading you’ve done since reaching adulthood consists of chick lit, YA, and the 50 Shades of Gray trilogy.

    The publishing industry is taking advantage of an old woman, and both they, and everyone who plans on buying Go Set a Watchman, should be ashamed of themselves.

    • klein says:

      I think that’s a good point. People do claim their favourite books to be something very different from what they spend most of their time reading. Nothing wrong with reading Twilight if you like it, it’s pretending something better is your favourite which bugs me.

      I don’t even have a favourite book. Just a lot that I like for different reasons.

    • meme says:

      I agree 100% with your second paragraph. That said, TKAM has always been one of my favorite books, the other being The Great Gatsby. And I don’t say it to sound smart because I never thought about it making me seem smart.

      I feel turning a beloved character, Atticus Finch, into a KKK loving racist is a disgrace. I’m sorry for young people today…everything gets tarnished.

    • kcarp says:

      You are so right about people claiming it is their favorite book. Remember the episode of Friends where they are playing the game for the apartment?

      Ross: Rachel claims this is her favorite movie.
      Chandler: Dangerous Liaisons.
      Ross: Correct. Her actual favorite movie is?
      Joey: Weekend at Bernie’s.

      I think there are a lot of people who love to seem smarter than they are and appear to be someone who appreciates great literature.

    • Absolutely says:

      Come on. So you’re saying that unless you exclusively read Pulitzer Prize winners you can’t profess one of them to be your favorite? I can’t appreciate 1984 because I’ve read Harry Potter? I’m not allowed to like Crime and Punishment because I’ve read the Hunger Games? A lot of people read to escape. While I enjoy a well written prize-winner, it’s not necessarily what I want to read on a daily basis. I can intersperse my James Patterson with my Margaret Atwood.
      That’s like saying I’m not allowed to like Schindler’s List because I liked Legally Blonde.good grief.

      • klein says:

        I don’t think that is what she was saying. Don’t take the comment so personally.

      • Absolutely says:

        It wasn’t personal at all. I was just using “I” as an example. But I still think that’s exactly what she was saying.

      • kcarp says:

        I actually hold Harry Potter up there with some of the great works of literature. I think it is much more than just a YA book about wizards. Even now JK Rowling is the revered as one of the best writers of our era even if some of her adult books may not be up to some people’s standards of great books.

        Harry Potter in my opinion is not even in the same league as the Hunger Games or other YA books popular now.

        I personally have read some of the “great” works of literature and have found them tedious. I love a good trashy romance with half naked people on the cover.

      • Chaucer says:

        Harry Potter is absolutely a great work. I will wave my MFA around and shout it from the highest tower. As another commenter stated, it’s not even close to the same level as The Hunger Games or even the Giver. So much higher up.

  22. Chaucer says:

    As an English Major, I always hated TKAM. I thought it was dull and poorly written. I never had to read it in school, and only picked it up when I went to college. Friends and I joke that the only reason we pursued MFAs was to be taken seriously when we said this book and Jane Austen, are both awful.

    So I can’t help but cheer at this. Perhaps with this new development TKAM will be taken off curriculums everywhere!

    • klein says:

      God I hate Jane Austen. Glad I’m not alone..

      • Chaucer says:

        Yes! I have always disliked her books. They’re essentially all the same, though I do think her strongest is Northanger Abbey. Ironic because it often gets overlooked. There’s no doubt that for the time, they were somewhat groundbreaking books, and that Jane Austen was a bit of a pioneer in women’s publishing. But much like TKAM, that time has passed and we are now able to find books that are better fitted to the time and teaching for today’s students. The classics are classics, and it’s important to teach them-but as the groundbreaking books they were, and in companion to other books that are more competent at describing the issues and he struggle.

      • H says:

        I hated Pride and Prejudice but Jane Eyre is my favorite book. Go figure. I think it’s because Mr. Rochester is so damn broody and sexy…excluding that crazy wife he keeps in the attic.

      • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

        Yes. God yes. Jane Austen breaks me, nothing else on a page kills me like Jane Austen.

      • Carmen says:

        @H: Its funny you bring up Mr. Rochester because he is a perfect example, along with Atticus Finch, of how a literary hero can be tarnished from another POV. I read Jane Eyre when I was 12 and fell head over heels in love with Rochester. He was my romantic hero for years. Then I read a book called “Wide Sargasso Sea” by Jean Rhys which is a retelling of Jane Eyre from the POV of the crazy wife in the attic, and it shows Mr. Rochester as a straight-up jerk. After I got over my initial shock of Rhys trashing my hero like that, I realized he really was a straight-up jerk. This is the guy who tried to trick an innocent young woman into a bigamous marriage. Actually, I think his dark side makes him a lot more interesting.

      • Betsy says:

        @H isn’t Jane Eyre by a Bronte?

      • Tara says:

        Can’t stand Austen either. I do like Jane Eyre, but didn’t Charlotte Bronte write that?

      • lou says:

        @H: I wouldn’t say “go figure”. Austen and the Brontes are very different in style. The Brontes didn’t like Austen’s style at all.

        I really like Austen, and Charlotte and Anne Bronte, but I find Wuthering Heights unreadable. Sorry Emily. Your crazy is too cray for me.

    • Carmen says:

      Them’s fightin’ words. I love Austen’s books. In my next life I want to be Elizabeth Bennet.

      Charlotte Brontë, OTOH… I loved “Jane Eyre” but thought “Villette”was a bloated mess, and “Shirley” was absolutely dreadful.

  23. Tara says:

    That is interesting, but I also am having a hard time with it. Atticus Finch has long been my choice for greatest heroic character in literary and film history. This will upset a lot of people.

  24. PoliteTeaSipper says:

    Thanks a lot for posting spoilers before the book was released!

    • Elle says:

      Same. Not loving the spoiler-filled headline. I’ve been avoiding reading anything about the released first chapter. I wouldn’t have clicked on this article except I wanted to say that there was no reason to give away that detail in the headline. Come on, Celebitchy, you’re totally smarter than that!

    • Betsy says:

      How are you avoiding the spoilers? I haven’t even been consciously looking at anything about this new book and the big spoiler is already pretty much out there.

  25. Syko says:

    I read the first chapter online, and now I’m just going to ignore the existence of this book. There was mention of Jem “dropping dead” (at less than 30 years of age?!?!), and I prefer to keep Atticus in my mind as an upright, progressive, moral man who was raising his two children in such a laudatory manner.

  26. meme says:

    I REFUSE to read this. No one is ruining TKAM for me. It’s one of my favorite movies and favorite books. This is a travesty and I wonder if Harper Lee is being manipulated.

  27. Jessie says:

    I am looking forward to this book. As a white person I couldn’t tell you how many times other white people express racist ideas when there are not any black people around. Most young white people (myself included) avoid this topic by removing ourself from the conversation or ignoring it because “it’s just something older generations say” or “they will be dead soon.” I hope this book creates lots of positive conversations regarding the need for white people to stop giving family members/friends/coworkers a pass on random racist statements.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      I’m not white but I agree completely. I think a lot of what I see said about TKAM in this comment section has always been why I’ve been a little meh on it. In the end the symbolism about the great upstanding white lawyer saving the poor black man is stronger than the story told. It’s all about Gregory Peck and the morality of his actions.

      Tbh I’m more interested in seeing what Harper originally intended. I’m interested in seeing a man that’s a product of his time period. We have a character that shocks his daughter by showing maybe he wasn’t as evolved and perfect as he seemed. It’s one thing to save an innocent man’s life but another to want those people in school next to his grandchildren. I’m curious to see how well this was done.

  28. Amy M. says:

    At the same time though this book is more historically accurate than TKAM. The way Atticus is in this book is how a lot of white people acted in the 1950s. Apparently Lee’s editor had her heavily rework TKAM, making Atticus to be this saint like figure instead of a racist which may explain why she never published another novel since having Atticus be this kind of savior was not her idea in the first place. I didn’t really like TKAM when I read it in middle school but I may need to reread it again.

    And I think people shouldn’t consider Go Set A Watchman as a sequel to TKAM because it’s not. Lee wrote this book before Mockingbird and used the basis for Watchman for it. I consider this book to be more of an alternate universe–the story of Atticus and Scout told in a different way, one that reflected the social climate of the time. People may not like that this was the first version of the story but there’s not much you can do about it.

    • Lucrezia says:

      Atticus was clearly based on Lee’s own father (a lawyer who defended 2 black men accused of murder, and gave up criminal law after they were convicted and executed). However, Lee’s father was a proponent of racial segregation.

      Seems logical to assume that the Atticus in the original draft (Watchman) was more autobiographical (and like all true stories, messy and complicated), while the character in the final version (Mockingbird) is a simpler, sugar-coated fantasy hero.

      I think Mockingbird was the book that needed to be published at the time. But Watchman sounds more realistic.

      • jwoolman says:

        This would explain why she wants it published (a more truthful autobiography) and also why her sister didn’t want it published (preferring the sanitized view of their father).

        I’ve known some pretty sharp 89 year olds. Don’t know why folks assume she isn’t rational and doesn’t know exactly what she wants. People also go into nursing homes because of physical difficulties, that doesn’t mean she’s senile. A friend who was well into her 80s at the time had to spend a long time in a nursing home because of a broken leg. Didn’t slow her down. She was a busy woman and on a lot of committees. She just had all the paperwork by her bed and the committees met there. She had a lot of money but was also frugal, so she must have done the math and decided it was more cost-effective to do that than hire people to take care of her at home. She was still going strong in her nineties also.

      • Tara says:

        I agree Lucreczia and Jwoolman. And, as someone mentioned upstream, the extreme editing may have been a disincentive to publish again. Until now.

    • Carmen says:

      Also, Afer TKAM was released, Lee may have realized she had written herself into a trap. I don’t think she ever anticipated how wildly popular the book would become or that Atticus Finch would be sanctified in the popular literature. She never wrote him as a saint but her readers turned him into one, and I think she realized too late that if there is anything people hate, it’s their heroes being yanked off their pedestals.

  29. Adrien says:

    Can’t wait for Thug Notes’ Cliffnotes of Watchman.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IntI62LWSJA

  30. FingerBinger says:

    Instead of being upset about Atticus Finch ,we should be more upset that Harper Lee might have been manipulated into publishing this book. She’s 89 and still suffering from the effects of a stroke.

  31. Triple Cardinal says:

    Two things:

    1. From what I read months ago on GSAW, the death of the sister and the discovery of the manuscript were coincidental. The lawyer discovered the manuscript and brought it to Lee. Discussion ensued: should it be considered for publication? Or do they simply ignore it?

    The manuscript was slowly passed around to friends and associates whom Lee trusted. Over these months, the feedback was uniformly positive. The book, in the opinions of these friends, was worth sending to a publisher. 

    So let’s stop with the idea that someone found the book and decided to rook an old lady who’s got marbles loose upstairs. Plenty of friends were looking out for Lee’s best interests. 

    2. From the NYT: “Harper Lee wanted to have the novel published exactly as it was written, without editorial intervention,” Jonathan Burnham, the publisher of the HarperCollins imprint Harper, wrote in an email message. 

    So “Watchman” is what you get when the editors jump back. And “Mockingbird” is what you get when the editor decides to rewrite the book to suit herself.  

    It goes with what I was taught years ago: a proper editor leaves no fingerprints. 

    • Wren33 says:

      Yes, to me this make TKAM more interesting, not less.

    • FingerBinger says:

      You don’t find it a tad bit suspicious that the manuscript gets “discovered” after her sister dies? There has to be a reason why this wasn’t published 10 or 20 years ago.

    • The Eternal Side-Eye says:

      This. People are acting like the woman was held at gunpoint for the book to be released. Maybe after all these years she saw the possibility of her work finally being put out as SHE wanted it and she took it.

      Decisions are made differently from youth to old age, she probably knows she could die soon and wants her work out there for better or worse.

      • DiamondGirl says:

        Maybe her sister was a bossy hag who didn’t want it published. Once she was gone, Harper said “Go get that other book!”

  32. mollie says:

    I won’t read it. The details behind the publishing of this book just scream shady to me. I feel Harper is being exploited and I can’t shake it. Just messy and I have no taste for it.

  33. Chinoiserie says:

    I have not read TKAM but I find the idea that the person a child saw as percect was not so but the reality is more grey. I find it fascinating.

    • Carmen says:

      Exactly. Everybody saw Atticus in the first book as a white knight in shining armor. Now they are having spasms and heaves after finding out he’s tarnished like everybody else. People really need to grow up.

  34. The Eternal Side-Eye says:

    As long as people realize THIS was Harper’s original work and that she based it on her Father. TKAM was the heavily edited and quickly put together creation of her editor. I think both books have value not just in terms of real storyline vs. what her editor wanted, but also in terms of what it was to have a book published.

    I hope teachers expand more on their teaching of Lee and make the conflict between writer and publisher more prominent. What happens when the work you didn’t intend becomes the NYT Best Seller and beloved. I like this book’s release, I don’t think (until more evidence comes out) anyone was shaking Lee till she allowed it to be released. I’m ready to see a more realistic Atticus that isn’t merely a shining example of a savior character.

  35. Brasileira says:

    Cue Jennifer Love regretting having named her son Atticus!

  36. BooBooLaRue says:

    I don’t really care about this book at all, and I am SHOWING MY AGE, but Gregory Peck was one sweet slice of perfect man pie. That is all.

  37. bored_01 says:

    It’s exploitation to the highest degree. The woman should have had her choices respected in relation to her art. Who knows what personal reasons and reflection went into the creation of this book. It may have been for herself, not the public.

  38. Kelly says:

    Makes me wonder if over the years she developed a feeling of antipathy towards Atticus and the book’s reputation. It reminds me of one of Agatha Christie’s characters who wanted to kill off her detective must as Agatha sometimes felt about Hercule Poirot.

  39. Triple Cardinal says:

    Maybe Lee looked at her checkbook and said, “Gracious! I’m running out of funds!

    “Make the deal for ‘Watchman’ and get as much for it as you can.

    “I have bills to pay.”

  40. nicca says:

    I’m devastated beyond words.

  41. Triple Cardinal says:

    I just found this:

    Harper Lee’s Friend Says Author is Hard of Hearing, Sound of Mind

    http://www.npr.org/2015/02/04/383854514/harper-lees-friend-says-author-is-hard-of-hearing-sound-of-mind

  42. Mary says:

    I refuse to believe such a shift in character. He could not have been who he was in the first book and turn out this way. Whoever wrote this is not of sound mind and I will stick to the interpertations in the first book. A good writer in the 50s can be a BAD writer in 2015.

    • jinglebellsmell says:

      This!

    • jwoolman says:

      She wrote this original version of the story before it was changed by the editor to the version you’ve read and seen onscreen. This was the original book, the editor wanted to shift the focus from the adult Scout to the child Scout and ignore the racism inherent to the character Atticus but just focus on his belief in justice. Atticus was based on her father in both versions- same man, just different aspects were revealed. So she didn’t write this “sequel” in 2015 but rather at the time of the greatly modified version that became To Kill A Mockingbird.

  43. DanaG says:

    I’m not buying this book it basically makes a mockery of the first one and it sounds awful. TKAM had heart and I would prefer to ignore this second so called sequel. Harper should off stuck to her guns and never released anything else sounds like she was a one off writer and this one has been done for the cash only. He can’t be a crusader for civil rights in one then a racist a few years later it makes no sense whatsoever.

    • jwoolman says:

      Atticus was not a crusader for civil rights. He believed in justice and the law, which at the time clearly supported segregation. There is no indication in the version published earlier (a modified version of this “sequel”, which is actually the original book) that he believed in desegregation or voting rights for all. The two versions of the book are not incompatible.

  44. Maria A. says:

    Is anyone else wondering what Oprah Winfrey is making of this new book? She loved, loved, LOVED To Kill a Mockingbird, so….
    Hmmmmm.

  45. Vodka loves me in the morning says:

    Finding out Atticus Finch is an unadulterated racist must be like finding out that the character who played the all-American middle-class funny sweater wearing doctor dad you looked up to for so long is a creepy rapist.

    Can you ever look at either character as aspirational again?

  46. Veronica says:

    I refuse to read this book. The unethical as hell way it was published is bad enough, but this was clearly never intended to hit mass market and is well below the standard set by the first. If Harper Lee had felt this story was worth telling, she would have done it herself. Now we get to see her legacy raked over the coals.

  47. PeaBea says:

    Oh fuck that. I am not counting it as canon.

  48. Carmen says:

    I read the book last night and no, Atticus was not a Klan member. He want to one meeting to see who was hiding underneath those hoods but that was as far as it went.

    For his times, Atticus was not at all unusual. There there were thousands of white people throughout the South who treated individual blacks with kindness and decency and yet were appalled at the idea of black children going to school with their own. Sakes alive, next thing you know they might end up marrying each other.

  49. serena says:

    Simple: I won’t ever read it. Hatticus Finch and Jem will keep on living in my mind and HTKAM as they originally WERE.
    Dammit, I wanted a follow-up but this is awful!