Go Set A Watchman
Exactly 100 pages into Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, the illusions of Jean Louise Finch and several generations of idealists are shattered when, arranging her father’s pile of reading material on a visit home from New York, Jean Louise discovers a pamphlet called “The Black Plague.” She picks it up, reads it all the way through, then takes it “by one of its corners … like she would hold a dead rat by the tail” and throws it in the garbage.
“Jean Louise,” her aunt says, in response to her indignation. “I don’t think you fully realize what’s been going on down here.”
It’s an awakening that’s not so much rude as cruel: Maycomb County, Alabama, is now a different world from the one she grew up in, and To Kill a Mockingbird’s Atticus Finch, the paragon of the legal profession, the father figure and steward of the nation’s conscience, is revealed to be frail and flawed. He is, at 72, a rheumatic and unrepentant segregationist who believes with complete conviction that the white race is superior. “Jean Louise, have you ever considered that you can’t have a set of backward people living among people advanced in one civilization and have a social Arcadia?” he asks late in the book, to her horror. “Do you want Negroes by the carload in the our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world?”
The article has been taken from “The New Yorker ”.
- Illusion is something that deceives by producing a false or misleading projection of something. “illusion of … are shattered” means what they thought it to be, it has turned out to be something else.
- Idealist here refers to the writers who treat subject imaginatively. So when the illusion of idealist are shattered, it means that the picture they had imagined is not true.
- Pamphlet is a complete publication of about 80 pages stitched together and having a cover.
- Indignation is a strong displeasure at something considered wrong or offensive. So, herein her aunt responds to her behavior of displeasure.
- Paragon refers to someone of exceptional merit. So, “paragon of legal profession” means someone who is excellent in the legal profession.
- Steward, here means a person who is in charge of something. “so steward of national conscience is a person responsible for the national conscience”.
- Conscience refers to the inner sense of what is right and what is wrong. “the national conscience” means what according to the nation as a whole is right or wrong!
- Frail, here means, morally weak and easily tempted. In this context, it means that the person who was responsible for the nation’s conscience was himself morally weak.
- Flawed is used to refer to someone who has imperfections.
- Rheumatic is a person with the disorder of the extremities or back, causing pain.
- Unrepentant is a person who shows no shame about his/ her actions.
- Segregationist is a person who supports the separation of the people depending on their caste, gender etc.
- Conviction here means strong opinion or belief. Here it means that the person had a strong belief that white race is superior.
- Carload refers to the number of people a car is carrying or it can carry. “Do you want Negroes by the carload in the our schools and churches and theaters?” means that do you as many Negros in the school as the car can carry.