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Palm Coast Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015 3 years ago

Chapter 9 of 'Go Set A Watchman': Did Harper Lee intend for 'Mockingbird' Atticus to be the same man as 'Watchman' Atticus?

Atticus Finch 'was never too absorbed in his own problems to listen earnestly to a tale of woe.'
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

This chapter, like the previous one, is a refreshing return to the Atticus we know from "Mockingbird." Unlike the previous tone of shame in eight, the tone in chapter nine is nostalgia and almost elegy at the loss of the perfect man.

"Atticus Finch's secret of living was so simple it was deeply complex: where most men had codes and tried to live up to them, Atticus lived his to the letter with no fuss, no fanfare, and no soul-searching."

On Atticus as a father: "He was never too tired to play Keep-Away; he was never too busy to invent marvelous stories; he was never too absorbed in his own problems to listen earnestly to a tale of woe; every night he read aloud to them until his voice cracked."

Jean Louise realizes she worshipped Atticus, that he was her moral compass.

But now that she is an adult, she has superseded him in righteousness because she recognizes that racism is an evil thing. How has he missed that? She is struggling here, and I have to say that it makes for good reading.

We can ask whether Harper Lee intended the "Mockingbird" Atticus to be the same man as the "Watchman" Atticus. Did he always have that seed of racism in him despite his words and actions in "Mockingbird"? It makes him a fascinating character to study if that is the case, and it makes me wonder if I ever really know anyone. I can't, really, unless I literally walk around in his shoes and get inside his brain. Unfortunately or fortunately, the only way I can do that is through fiction.

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