If you want to elicit a strong reaction bring up Lee, “Mockingbird” and “Watchman.” I picked up a copy of “Watchman” at a friend’s house. She grabbed it out of my hand and said, “I haven’t read that yet.” I asked her why and she said she was afraid to. I hadn’t read it either but only then did I realize I possessed the same fear.
This was America at it’s finest, including The Noble Prize. A book about good and evil, sin and redemption. We still cry when we hear those words. “Stand up Scott. Your Daddy’s passing.” Racial injustice during the era when those things were the status quo. That trial held a mirror up to America and forced her to look. A story so interquitly woven, full of gentle yet tragic lessons of morality that it gave us hope of change.
Confession and forgiveness and for the evil that would remain, that rabid dog was shot and killed. Boo Radley, our fears that lie in the darkness, rose up to show it had just been a childish bad dream. All was right with the world. Go and sin no more.
The story made us better people as long as men like Atticus Finch existed. Why, after all these years, would she ask us to re-examine that summer and fall? Many of us can’t do it.
Harper Lee was a recluse. She gave no interviews and shunned the spotlight. There would be no second book. We were sure and surely didn’t need it. She and Truman Capote were best friends. She helped Truman fight his own demons while writing “In Cold Blood.” A more odd pairing of friendship, I can not imagine.
Like screaming, “FIRE!” In a crowded theater, someone postulated that Capote, not Lee had written “Mockingbird. ” “Watchman” had not been written by the same person who gave us Jim, Scout and Atticus, not in that form.
When I asked that question, I got some strong reactions. My answer is simple. I don’t have the will or the courage to read “Watchman.” Like so many other people, I refuse to desecrate Atticus Finch. I just can’t do it so my original question was just that, a question because I don’t know.