To start off, this is the weirdest book I have ever read! I usually can predict how a story will turn out but this one confused me a couple of times. I’m glad I took a risk to read a different type of story but wouldn’t recommend it to other people unless they love thinking too much about everything.
After facing the hard truth of racial tension in the South, Jean is encouraged by her aunt to invite the young women for Coffee. Jean loves her cup of coffee but never finishes the second cup according to Hank. She dresses like a lady to please her aunt for the useless talk of these gatherings.
The gathering allows her to confirm how the racist thoughts of Maycomb are. She felt sick hearing good people demeaning black people which showed her how the town has changed since her childhood. Everyone is blaming the conflict on the people of colour and joke about racist things. Jean feels distant from her home because she can’t relate. She got angry but chose to not speak a word since she knows that they won’t change their ignorant perspectives. Racism was not a large issue in New York and it is saying to her, “Jean Louise Finch, are not reacting according to our doctrines regarding your kind, therefore you do not exist” (177).
She is exposed to constitutional racism for the first time and remembers seeing black people as, “they were poor, they were poor, they were diseased and dirty, some were lazy and shiftless but never in my life was I was given the idea that I should despise one, should fear one, should be discourteous to one” (179). In addition, she doesn’t notice the people of colour in New York causing the girls to call her “colour blind”. It adds to the fact that she has been surrounded by racism her whole life but never realized it. She calls on a “watchman” to help her become more aware of the systematic racism that has been going on all her life in America.
“For thus hath the Lord said unto me,
Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth” (95)
Jean later decides to visit her uncle Jack because she is so confused about everything so he tells her confusing riddles. Despite no war, there is tension after the Civil War with racial groups and the Whites are resisting equality because they want to remain attached to their history (*cough* colonialism, white supremacy, etc. *cough*). What stood out was that, family bonds and community relationships are what claim their identity. He claims that the Civil War was fought to claim their Southern identity but not for morality or equality. Jean Louise is pulling a Gogol on us by having an identity crisis. She has a mindset of a Northerner but the South is where she grew up but she doesn’t know where to identify with. She should be lucky that she doesn’t have to pick between two continents.
As someone in 2016, I find this odd. As the world becomes more globalized, it becomes more difficult to define “identity”. I like to know about ethnicity and culture so I can learn more about a person and understand their culture a bit more. However, the Southerners seem to use identity as a way to categorize and label people.
I felt like a proud mother when Jean when she snapped at Hank. He might be a sweetheart but he acts as if she can’t take care of herself. Apparently, Atticus went to the meeting to see who the members of the KKK were. Couldn’t he just snoop around? Oh wait, he is a man, therefore he can’t do the job of a woman.
On a serious note, the talk on privilege was very interesting. Hank can work as hard as he can but once he makes one mistake, he is seen as trash by the community due to coming from a less respected family. He tells her that ,”you can parade around town in your dungarees with your shirttail our and barefooted if you want to. Maycomb says, ‘That’s the Finch in her, that’s just her way” (231). He can’t act according to his beliefs or desire because it might ruin his reputation which Jean finds hypocritical. Jean is being a hypocrite because she claims that the Whites are blind to see their discriminations towards the Black but she doesn’t bother listen to Hank? He smiles when she leaves? He might be the one?
Unfortunately, this relates to white privilege in the media. Many of the prisoners are people of colour not because they are necessarily worse but because they target communities of lower income. For example, the act of 9/11 was apparently done by a Muslim and the rest of the community is blamed for it even though the accused committed a big sin, therefore he is not the best representation of the religion. Everyone knows Bush did 9/11. When a white person commits a crime, his race isn’t brought into it and the writing is less harsh.
Surprisingly, I was proud of Jean for snapping at her father. She wants the blacks to have citizenships but Atticus thinks that doing it quickly will bring destruction. She compares him to Hitler but he still claims to love her. She asks him why he couldn’t have, “turned me into a simpering, mealy-mouthed magnolia type who bats her eyelashes and crosses her hand and lives for nothing but her lil’ole husband?” (249).
She wants to be comfortably unaware so she doesn’t have to acknowledge the destruction of mankind. Her father tells her to, “come down to earth” (249). Does this claim that he sees her as a godly figure that has high morals than everyone, because if so, the tables have turned.
I’m glad Harper Lee didn’t go in depth with the relationship between Atticus and his daughter. There is no ending to it since their feelings will change and no family is perfect ,but you will always love them whether you like it or not. The theme of this book? Eat your vegetables and don’t do drugs kids.
P.S. This is my last blog post of the year. If school doesn’t work out, I’ll be a food blogger. I’ll obviously send the link when that happens. Chao!
Lee, Harper. Go Set a Watchman. New York, NY: Harper, An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2015. Print.