Atticus Finch, one of the main characters in Harper Lee’s novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, set the standard for moral behavior. He made Time magazine’s list of top 10 best men and is number one among the American Film Institute’s most beloved heroes. Meanwhile Buzzfeed and The Art of Manliness honor life lessons learned from the revered fictional dad.
But in Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman (set for release on July 14), an aging Atticus reveals a much darker side to a grown-up Scout who returns to her hometown of Maycomb, Alabama, from New York City.
Go Set a Watchman was written, in fact, before To Kill a Mockingbird, but Lee’s editor was so taken with Scout’s childhood flashbacks, she encouraged Lee to rewrite the story from the perspective of a young Scout. The switch led to the development of the kind, wise Atticus society has held in high esteem for more than 50 years.
Despite word of his shocking change in character, literary critics are anxiously awaiting Go Set a Watchman’s release, which first ignited controversy as to Lee’s health and ability to sign off on its publication. With all the friction surrounding the novel, we can’t help but turn, yet again, to Atticus who says in To Kill a Mockingbird, “The best way to clear the air is to have it all out in the open.”
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