A Comparison Of The Novels To Kill A Mockingbird And Go Set A Watchman
Harper Lee lived long enough for her to publish two novels, “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Go Set a Watchman”. The two are related to each other by talking about the same issues Jean Louise “Scout” Finch grew up with as a child (To Kill a Mockingbird) to what she has to deal with as an adult (Go Set a Watchman).
To Kill a Mockingbird: In 1933, Maycomb, Alabama, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch lived with her brother Jeremy Atticus “Jem” Finch and her widowed father Atticus Finch. During the first Chapters of the novel the children are seen spending there long summers with their friend Dill (who only comes when summer is around) and telling stories about Boo (Arthur) Radley. Tensions mount in Maycomb as Atticus prepares to defend Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. During the trial, Atticus argues that Mayella’s injuries could not have been caused by Tom, whose left arm was crushed in an accident years before. Atticus further suggests that Mayella’s father, Bob Ewell, has been abusing her for years and is the real monster. In spite of this, the all-white jury finds Tom guilty, and he’s later killed while trying to escape from prison. Bob Ewell seeks revenge on Atticus, who embarrassed him during the trial. On the night of the Halloween pageant, Ewell attacks Jem and Scout, intending to kill them. Boo Radley comes to the rescue, saving the children and stabbing Ewell in the process. Scout later walks Boo home, but never sees him again. Go Set a Watchman: Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch is returning to her home of Maycomb in Alabama to visit her family for two weeks on vacation. On the train ride home to Maycomb, Jean Louise remembers her older brother Jem, who died of a heart attack two years ago, and her childhood friend Dill, who is now somewhere abroad. She recalls the time the three children held a mock revival service and had other adventures together. Upon arriving home, Jean Louise is met by her childhood friend and lover Henry Clinton. Henry drives her home and they entertain ideas of marriage, but Jean Louise still cannot bring herself to fully commit to marrying Henry. They arrive home and talk to Atticus (who is now seventy-two and has rheumatoid arthritis) and Atticus’s sister, Jean Louise’s aunt, Alexandra, whom Jean Louise has never been able to get along with. The next day, Sunday, they go to church, where Jean Louise is reunited with her Uncle Jack, with whom she is close and trusts dearly.
Although she is supposed to see Uncle Jack that afternoon, Jean Louise discovers a racist pamphlet in her house, which prompts Aunt Alexandra to tell her that Henry and Atticus have gone to the “White Supremacists’ Citizens’ Council of Maycomb” meeting. Jean Louise sneaks into the courthouse and is shocked by the racism going on in the meeting, and feels betrayed by Henry and Atticus. The Next Morning Jean Louise has woken up to the news of Calpurnia’s grandson committing manslaughter while drunk, and that Atticus will take up Zeebo’s (Calpurnia’s grandson) case. However, Atticus is doing so because he does not want the NAACP to be involved. Disillusioned with Atticus, Jean Louise visits Calpurnia, and comes home heartbroken. Upon coming home, Jean Louise is immediately ushered into a coffee with the town ladies that her aunt has set up. Exhausted by the female energy, Jean goes to finally visit Uncle Jack that afternoon. She confronts her uncle about her father’s twisted views, and Uncle Jack unsuccessfully tries to explain to her the necessity of individual conscience. Now, Jean Louise and Henry get coffee, and she tells him she will not marry him. They argue; she storms out and runs into Atticus. Jean Louise and Atticus argue until Jean Louise rushes home to pack and leave Maycomb as soon as possible. She is stopped by Uncle Jack, who slaps her and makes her see that she has finally become her own person. Jean Louise apologizes to Henry and Atticus, and plans to stay in Maycomb the rest of her vacation days.
The Comparison/Differences of the Characters
Jean Louise “Scout” Finch: At the beginning of “To Kill a Mockingbird” , Scout is an innocent, good-hearted five-year-old tomboy, who has no experience with the evils or people of the world/Maycomb. As the novel moves further, Scout has her first contact with evil in the form of racial prejudice, and the basic development of her character is governed by the question of whether she will learn from that contact with her conscience or whether she will be hurt. Thanks to Atticus’s wisdom, Scout learns that though humanity has a great capacity for evil, it also has a great capacity for good, and that the evil can often be mitigated if one approaches others with an outcome of sympathy and understanding. As an adult, Jean Louise is less wild than “Scout” used to be, but she is every bit as passionate and idealistic. Jean Louise’s homecoming reminds her of her younger years in Maycomb, especially her turbulent puberty years. Now, however, Jean Louise must go through a very different coming of age when she learns that her father, Atticus, and her love interest, Hank, are members of the Maycomb citizens’ council, an organization dedicated to preserving segregation in the South. The news that her hero isn’t the man she thought he was devastates Jean Louise, who has always thought of her father as a moral authority and a champion of racial equality. As she tries to come to terms with what her father really believes about race and what she herself believes, Jean Louise learns the danger of entrusting your conscience to someone else.
Throughout the novels Jean Louise learns that humanity is both evil and good. As a child she is blinded by her fathers ego, of defending a black man in a small racist county. As she grows older she keeps this squeaky clean image of her father Atticus, but in reality he’s not all that good. After seeing her father’s true personality she learns to develop her own ideas and ways, without having any influence.
Atticus Finch: A lawyer in Maycomb descended from an old local family. A widower with no humor, Atticus has instilled in his children his strong sense of morality and justice. He is one of the few residents of Maycomb committed to racial equality. When he agrees to defend Tom Robinson, a black man, he exposes himself and his family to the anger of the white community. With his strongly held convictions, wisdom, and empathy, Atticus functions as a “Christ” like figure.
At 72 years old, Atticus is a well-respected Maycomb lawyer… Because he suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis and has difficulty caring for himself, Atticus lives with his sister, Alexandra, who takes care of him. During Jean Louise’s childhood, Atticus defended a black man accused of rape. Because of this trial, Jean Louise thinks of her father as a champion of equal rights for all races. However, Atticus’ views are not so easy to define: Although he claims to want fair treatment for all races, he also appears to believe that black people are not yet ready for the full rights of citizenship. “Go Set a Watchman” never clarifies precisely what Atticus thinks about racial equality, but clearly Atticus wants his daughter to begin thinking for herself about ethical issues. Admit it, we see Atticus as a hero, not just for being the lawyer of Tom Robinson, but for raising
Scout and Jem while being a lawyer. Like Scout, we are blinded by his heroic actions in “To Kill a Mockingbird” that refuse to believe that he is being a supremacist in “Go Set a Watchman”. But if you look passed the blurred lines all you see is a man who is trying his best to set his daughter up for the real world and flourish her to be a woman with a mind of her own.
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