**spoiler alert** Okay, now I've finished reading the novel. The most interesting aspect of the novel is that Lee's focus wasn't on race, as much as o**spoiler alert** Okay, now I've finished reading the novel. The most interesting aspect of the novel is that Lee's focus wasn't on race, as much as on the relationship between a daughter and her father. The key scene is when Uncle Jack points out to "Scout" that "Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscious... now you, Miss, born with your own conscience, somewhere along the line fastened it like a barnacle onto your father’s...He was letting you reduce him to the status of a human being.”
Isn't that what the readers of TKAM did? Didn't many fasten onto Atticus as we believed him to be and then when this novel appears, we are forced to "reduce him to the status of a human being." I am glad that I stayed with this novel. It is not TKAM. But it does have some merit in reminding us that even characters in novels are "human" and fallible, and that we as readers are prone to ask more of them than they can give.
• “That’s the way they assert themselves these days,” Henry said. “They’ve got enough money to buy used cars, and they get out on the highway like ninety-to-nothing. They’re a public menace.” “Driver’s licenses?” “Not many. No insurance, either.” “Golly, what if something happens?” “It’s just too sad.” • the congregation had failed to notice any change in Mrs. Haskins’s lifelong interpretation, and they intoned the Doxology to its bitter end as they had been reared to do, while Mrs. Haskins romped madly ahead like something out of Salisbury Cathedral. Jean Louise’s first thought was that Herbert Jemson had lost his mind. Herbert Jemson had been music director of the Maycomb Methodist Church for as long as she could remember. He was a big, good man with a soft baritone, who ruled with easy tact a choir of repressed soloists, and who had an unerring memory for the favorite hymns of District Superintendents. • the twenty-first chapter of Isaiah, verse six: For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” • He never counted what it cost him; he never looked back. He never knew two pairs of eyes like his own were watching him from the balcony. • The one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted had failed her; the only man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge, “He is a gentleman, in his heart he is a gentleman,” had betrayed her, publicly, grossly, and shamelessly. • Integrity, humor, and patience were the three words for Atticus Finch. • She touched yesterday cautiously, then withdrew. • You must have lived it. If a man says to you, “This is the truth,” and you believe him, and you discover what he says is not the truth, you are disappointed and you make sure you will not be caught out by him again. But a man who has lived by truth—and you have believed in what he has lived—he does not leave you merely wary when he fails you, he leaves you with nothing. • Mr. Stone set a watchman in church yesterday. He should have provided me with one. I need a watchman to lead me around and declare what he seeth every hour on the hour. I need a watchman to tell me this is what a man says but this is what he means, to draw a line down the middle and say here is this justice and there is that justice and make me understand the difference. I need a watchman to go forth and proclaim to them all that twenty-six years is too long to play a joke on anybody, no matter how funny it is. • “Melbourne said once, that the only real duties of government were to prevent crime and preserve contracts, to which I will add one thing since I find myself reluctantly in the twentieth century: and to provide for the common defense.” “That’s a cloudy statement.” “Indeed it is. It leaves us with so much freedom.” • Henry said evenly, “I’m only trying to make you see beyond men’s acts to their motives. A man can appear to be a part of something not-so-good on its face, but don’t take it upon yourself to judge him unless you know his motives as well. A man can be boiling inside, but he knows a mild answer works better than showing his rage. A man can condemn his enemies, but it’s wiser to know them. • Have you ever considered that men, especially men, must conform to certain demands of the community they live in simply so they can be of service to it? • Men tend to carry their honesty in pigeonholes, • to do with that black boy, you just like a neat brief. His cause interfered with your orderly mind, and you had to work order out of disorder. It’s a compulsion with you, and now it’s coming home to you—” • And speaking of God, why didn’t you make it very plain to me that God made the races and put the black folks in Africa with the intention of keeping them there so the missionaries could go tell them that Jesus loved ’em but meant for ’em to stay in Africa? That us bringing ’em over here was all a bad mistake, so they’re to blame? That Jesus loved all mankind, but there are different kinds of men with separate fences around ’em, that Jesus meant that any man can go as far as he wants within that fence—” • I believed in you. I looked up to you, Atticus, like I never looked up to anybody in my life and never will again. If you had only given me some hint, if you had only broken your word with me a couple of times, if you had been bad-tempered or impatient with me—if you had been a lesser man, maybe I could have taken what I saw you doing. If once or twice you’d let me catch you doing something vile, then I would have understood yesterday. Then I’d have said that’s just His Way, that’s My Old Man, because I’d have been prepared for it somewhere along the line—” • I’ve never in my life seen you give that insolent, back-of-the-hand treatment half the white people down here give Negroes just when they’re talking to them, just when they ask ’em to do something. There’s no get-along-there-nigger in your voice when you talk to ’em. “Yet you put out your hand in front of them as a people and say, ‘Stop here. This is as far as you can go!’” • You deny that they’re human.” “How so?” “You deny them hope. • Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscious.” • now you, Miss, born with your own conscience, somewhere along the line fastened it like a barnacle onto your father’s. • He was letting you reduce him to the status of a human being.” I love you. As you please. • the time your friends need you is when they’re wrong, Jean Louise. They don’t need you when they’re right—” “What do you mean?” “I mean it takes a certain kind of maturity to live in the South these days. You don’t have it yet, but you have a shadow of the beginnings of it. You haven’t the humbleness of mind—” “I thought fear of the Lord was the beginning of wisdom.” “It’s the same thing. Humility.”
First impression of novel: I've only read the first 10% -- reading kindle edition via the library. I find myself trying to connect Jean Louise in this novel to Scout in TKAM but find inconsistencies. I love Lee's ability to weave in fun anecdotes -- she is a wonderful storyteller and gives life to incidental scenes and characters in the same entertaining, descriptive manner as say, Mark Twain. I think the key to reading the novel with the most enjoyment or interest will be to put aside expectations and see the characters as new rather than trying to fit them into the mold that expectation creates. ...more