Report on The Page Turners Meeting - Meeting, Thursday, 7 December 2017

Jean Louise Finch (aka Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird) returns home for a visit from New York where she now lives. Thus unfolds Harper Lee’s second book. Many of the characters can be recognised from the now famous To Kill a Mockingbird. Famous, not least, because of the film starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.
Go Set a Watchman moves forward the story of the Finch family and the story of Maycomb, Alabama. In so doing, it exposes views, prejudices and a life that Scout was either completely unaware of as a child growing up or chose not to see. She was protected from the life differences of black and white people who lived in the town. As children, Scout and her brother had a black nurse, Calpurnia, who raised them. In this story Calpurnia turns her back on Scout.
Atticus Finch defended a black man on trial for rape – thus for Scout, at least, setting up a picture of being colour blind. Go Set a Watchman turns this idea on its head. In some American reviews Atticus and many other characters in the book are accused of racism. Atticus and his brother were exposed as being members of the KKK and of joining with other white men of the town to challenge the rise of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP).
We asked “Was Atticus racist?” or was he operating as ‘a watchman’, using the means available to him to keep others from running his town and state?
Scout learns these truths and about the life of white women in her town on this trip home. She struggles and then fights against all she learns. Our discussion examined Scout’s naivety and once she had sorted out her own opinions, whether this was the beginning of her coming of age and the rise of her feminist understanding.
There is much to discuss about this book. It carries a strong political message that some of us felt was beyond our experience to pin down. This is not a book that you could forget that you have read though. It has impact, as its inferences are, unfortunately still alive and well today.
Our group score was 6.8
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