Thursday, July 16, 2015

Stephen L. Carter — 'Watchman' Is Harper Lee for Grown-Ups

Stephen L. Carter, a Bloomberg View columnist, and conservative professor of law at Yale University, offers his thoughts on the newly discovered novel by Harper Lee.

The black conservative professor and columnist writes: "It's been fascinating, if a bit depressing, to watch the backlash build against Harper Lee's newly discovered novel "Go Set a Watchman," which went on sale Tuesday. Now that Atticus Finch turns out to harbor racist views, fans of "To Kill a Mockingbird" have taken to social media in large numbers to announce that they will boycott the book. Some even insist that Lee could not possibly have written it.

They don't know what they're missing.

"Go Set a Watchman" offers a rich and complex story, in many ways more textured than "Mockingbird." To make the novel about pinning the right label on Atticus is to miss the point. "Watchman" isn't mainly about race. It's about the process through which protagonist Jean Louise Finch comes to grips with the realization that the father she has worshiped for decades is fallible. The story wouldn't be interesting if his failings were smaller."