Atticus Finch Is Racist In Mockingbird Sequel
Lee’s much-anticipated new book, Go Set a Watchman, was actually written before the publication of her masterpiece in 1960. The manuscript contained a series of flashbacks to the early life of its heroine, Scout Finch, and her publisher, who was intrigued by the vivid picture they painted, suggested the author should go away and write another novel based on those passages.
Lee’s rewrite, Mockingbird, went on to win the Pulitzer prize. In 1962 it was turned into a well-loved film starring Gregory Peck and Mary Badham and it was recently described by Oprah Winfrey as “our national book”. It tells the story of Scout and her brother, Jem, and the life they shared 20 years earlier in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, with their widower father, Atticus. A lawyer, their father has to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, from a rape charge and his fair-minded, humanitarian attitudes, as represented to the reader through the eyes of his loving, young daughter, have since spawned a million legal careers.
Breaking an international embargo, The New York Times ran a review on Friday revealing the contents of Watchman and the news that Atticus Finch, a hero of American liberal values, had been conceived as a flawed racist, has upset many fans of Lee’s original book.