Go Set A Watchman is as the sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. But it is darker the The Mockingbird.
Atticus, the moral hero in the Mockingbird, falls of his pedestal in the Watchman. Especially in the eyes of his admiring daughter, Scout.
There is no more hope for Atticus, who fights against injustice in the Mockingbird. The coloured people have gotten their own lawyers and are no longer dependent on the few whites defending them. This development however has not led to more unity. It has increased more separation. It has raised suspicion between black and white. It has shattered the balance in the village.
Scout struggles with this character of the South.
Dr Finch, Atticus brother explains to her the history of the war of the south. It is a battle for keeping their identity.
“Now then, Scout,” said her uncle, “Now, at this very minute, a political philosophy foreign to it is being pressed on the South, and the South’s not ready for it – we’re finding ourselves in the same deep waters. As sure as the time, history is repeating itself, and as sure as man is man, history is the last place he’ll look for his lessons.”
The Watchman describes that sharp difference between republicans and democrats in the United States, which we can still find today. That same identity battle. The war between North and South is still ongoing. Nowhere is the battle between left and right so fundamental and also obstructive as here in the US. I was stunned to read that so little has changed.
More shocking I found the character development of Scout. The Mockingbird and The Catcher in The Rye were these fantastic novels in which the juvenile protagonists stand by their naive but authentic self, do not give in no matter how bad it ends. But in The Watchman, the idealistic, radical character of Scout is crushed and she finally seems to submit to indolence, she finds her home and inner stability after a big fallout with Atticus.
What a darkness: equality fails, ideology fails, cynicism and indolence prevails.