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Go Set a Watchman goes on sale

By Beth Hyatt
The Greenville Advocate

It has been 55 years since the world was introduced to Harper Lee and her famous novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, she is back for another round with her newest novel Go Set a Watchman, which was released Tuesday.

To honor the release of Lee’s newest novel, Gov. Robert Bentley has declared July 14  Go Set a Watchman Day in Alabama.

“The release of Go Set a Watchman is an exciting time for our state,” said Bentley. “To join the national and international excitement surrounding the book, I have proclaimed Tuesday as Go Set a Watchman Day in our state. Harper Lee is a great source of pride for our state, and the literary mark she has left on our state and nation should be commended. I am honored to issue this proclamation in recognition of her second book being released.”

Lee has given Alabama an educational and literary boost with her first novel, and many have high hopes for her second.

Mollie Waters, English, theatre and speech teacher at LBW Community College, cannot forget her first experience with To Kill a Mockingbird.

“The novel deals heavily with race relations in the South during the Great Depression, but To Kill a Mockingbird does more than explore race relations. The books also covers universal truths about the human condition, and it probes social class issues as well as reviews the importance of having an educated population,” said Waters “Lee’s characters are very real to me, and I think to other people from our state, because we know them, or at least, know people like them.”

Waters has always found the characters of To Kill a Mockingbird relatable. She knows that within our society we still have characters like Atticus Finch, but sadly, we also have characters like Bob Ewell.

This second novel follows the life of Scout Finch as she learns to cope with the changing world around her. Like most people born in a small town, Scout sees how different the world really is outside her safe little town of Maycomb. She is forced to form her own opinions and beliefs now that she has ventured out on her own, but do those beliefs fall in line with what Atticus has taught her?

This novel takes place 20 years after To Kill a Mockingbird and features some of the same characters readers have grown to know and love. Rumor has it that Go Set a Watchman was written before To Kill a Mockingbird but was not accepted by publishers. It is said that the title comes from Isaiah 21:6, “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” For Scout, Atticus has always served as the watchman over Maycomb; the decider of right and wrong. Now that she has grown up, will she still look to Atticus as the watchman she has always admired and respected?

It’s hard to imagine how this second novel could ever surpass To Kill a Mockingbird in content or popularity, but hopefully it will be able to stand on its own and not have to rely strictly on the popularity of its first installment. The first chapter of the novel can be found on iTunes; the book was released for purchase Tuesday.