THE TWO ATTICUS FINCHES. A novel by Harper Lee, the author of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, was published to great excitement at 12:01 on July 14. Reviews came out beforehand, and there is considerable consternation. The new book, GO SET A WATCHMAN, was in fact written before MOCKINGBIRD and deals with a period some 20 years after MOCKINGBIRD.
The consternation comes from the fact that in WATCHMAN the character of Atticus Finch, a moral hero, is—at the later time—a segregationist who has angry arguments with his daughter Scout. Sam Sacks, who wrote this review in the Wall Street Journal (July 13), says that lovers of MOCKINGBIRD will find WATCHMAN “a test of their tolerance and capacity for forgiveness”.
I think that there will be discomfort for a lot of readers. But if the names of the characters were changed, there wouldn’t be. It would be easier to read the books as two independent books about two different fathers and daughters. The writer of WATCHMAN wanted to write about the arguments that a young woman had with her father about civil rights. The author of MOCKINGBIRD wanted to write about a trial which tested a society.