In the unpublished early novel that Harper Lee rewrote as the acclaimed "To Kill a Mockingbird," there's a surprisingly different Atticus Finch from the one readers know, according to an exclusive review of the book in the New York Times. "Go Set a Watchman," which is set to be published Tuesday nearly 60 years after its composition, adds a dark layer of complexity to Finch, "Mockingbird’s" champion of fairness and justice who fights in court to acquit a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman in 1930s Alabama.
"Watchman," which was written before 1960's "Mockingbird" but only recently discovered, takes place years later, in the 1950s. The Times writes that a 26-year-old Scout -- Finch’s daughter, who is taught by her father in "Mockingbird" those same scruples that he has come to represent in the minds of millions of readers (and countless viewers of the 1962 film starring Gregory Peck) -- returns from living in New York City to discover that her father once attended a Ku Klux Klan meeting and is angered by the U.S. Supreme Court decision to desegregate schools. He is quoted in the Times review as saying, “Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people.” He says, “Do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?”
According to the Times, Scout (now known as Jean Louise) is surprised and disgusted by the views held by her 72-year-old father.
"To Kill a Mockingbird" has become one of the most celebrated books in the United States, and is required reading in many schools throughout the country and elsewhere. It is said to be one of the most-read books about race, if not the most-read book on race.