Harper Lee: Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman is a novel by Harper Lee, published in 2015, almost six decades after the release of her Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Initially believed to be a sequel, it was later revealed that Go Set a Watchman was an earlier draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, featuring many of the same characters but set 20 years later.


number of pages: 278
literary movement: SOUTHERN GOTHIC
literary genre: BILDUNGSROMAN
1st edition: 2015
years of writing: mid 1950s


The story follows Jean Louise Scout Finch, now 26 years old, as she returns to her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama, from New York City to visit her family, including her father, the iconic Atticus Finch. The novel explores themes of racial tensions, morality, and the disillusionment that comes with growing up and confronting the imperfections of one’s childhood heroes.

Upon her arrival in Maycomb, Jean Louise finds that the town is rife with racial prejudice and tension, as the Civil Rights Movement is gaining momentum in the 1950s. She is shocked and devastated to discover that her father, Atticus, whom she had always revered as a paragon of moral integrity, is part of a citizens’ council that seeks to maintain segregation and resist the changes brought about by the Civil Rights Movement.

Throughout the novel, Jean Louise grapples with feelings of betrayal and confusion as she comes to terms with her father’s involvement in the council and his views on race. She finds herself in conflict with the values she has held dear since her childhood and must navigate the complexities of her relationship with her father, as well as her own changing perspectives on race and morality.

Through conversations with her uncle, Dr. Jack Finch, and her childhood friend and love interest, Henry Hank Clinton, Jean Louise begins to understand the nuances of her father’s beliefs and the motivations behind his actions. She ultimately learns to accept that her father is not the perfect hero she once thought he was, and that even those we love and admire can be flawed.


Jean Louise Scout Finch

Now 26 years old, Scout is the protagonist of Go Set a Watchman. She has matured into an independent and strong-willed woman who lives in New York City. She returns to her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama, and faces moral dilemmas and personal growth.

Atticus Finch

Scout’s father, Atticus, is a prominent lawyer in Maycomb and a respected figure in the community. In Go Set a Watchman, his views on race and segregation come into question, causing a rift between him and Scout.

Henry Hank Clinton

Hank is Atticus’s protégé and Scout’s childhood friend. He is in love with Scout and hopes to marry her. Hank, a World War II veteran, faces his own moral struggles in the story.

Alexandra Finch

Atticus’s sister and Scout’s aunt, Alexandra is a traditional Southern woman who believes in upholding the social norms and values of her community. She often clashes with Scout due to their differing beliefs.

Uncle Jack Finch

Atticus’s brother, Jack, is a retired doctor who serves as a mentor and confidant to Scout. He helps her navigate the challenges she faces during her visit to Maycomb.


The Finch family’s former housekeeper, Calpurnia plays a smaller role in Go Set a Watchman compared to To Kill a Mockingbird. Her strained relationship with Scout reflects the racial tensions present in the novel.

A man can condemn his enemies, but it’s wiser to know them.



  • Author: Go Set a Watchman was written by Harper Lee, the same author who wrote the acclaimed novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Publication: The book was published in 2015, more than 50 years after the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Original Draft: Go Set a Watchman is believed to be the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, which Lee wrote in the mid-1950s.
  • Rediscovery: The manuscript for Go Set a Watchman was rediscovered in 2014, leading to its eventual publication.
  • Setting: The novel is set in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama, during the 1950s, when the Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum.
  • Characters: The main character, Jean Louise Scout Finch, is now an adult and returns to Maycomb from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus Finch.
  • Controversy: The book generated controversy due to its portrayal of Atticus Finch as a segregationist and racist, contradicting his image as a moral hero in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Themes: Go Set a Watchman explores themes of racial tensions, moral complexities, personal identity, and coming to terms with the past.
  • Literary Genre: The book is a Bildungsroman, a coming-of-age novel that focuses on the moral and psychological growth of the protagonist.
  • Reception: Although Go Set a Watchman received mixed reviews, it became a bestseller and sparked renewed interest in Harper Lee’s work.


Go Set a Watchman provides a thought-provoking look at the complexities of race relations, morality, and the process of coming to terms with the fallibility of our heroes. While the novel received mixed reviews due to its portrayal of Atticus Finch and the stark contrast to To Kill a Mockingbird, it remains a valuable addition to American literature, offering a unique perspective on the challenges and changes faced by the South during the Civil Rights Movement.



Nelle Harper Lee was an American author best known for her groundbreaking novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Lee’s works are characterized by their exploration of themes such as racial inequality, moral growth, and the importance of empathy. Despite publishing only a few books during her lifetime, she left an indelible mark on the literary world and remains an influential figure in American literature.


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