Almost half-way through Watchman and am glad it has been published as I think it will forward the cause of understanding and undoing the oppressive culture that slaveholders and their enablers brought to this nation. I will expand on that once I have finished the book.
I had before now opposed its publication. I am and have not been much of a Harper Lee scholar and considered her a Eudora Welty kind of writer. I have worshipped at the altar of Mockingbird like all the rest but never really could relate Atticus to any southern bred man I know or have known. And more on Atticus later.
I did not want it published because of how Ms. Lee has obviously been manipulated and because I had not wanted to see the “good”social message in Mockingbird undone. Now I think perhaps we are ready to revisit that — and most of all I have the intuition that Lee’s family,, editors and friends early on convinced Lee that her true voice was not acceptable. Now it will be heard by some readers, though it will still struggle to gain the attention of those only looking for the cultural and political issues relating to race
What i do think I can say now is that though both books reflect the southern culture, they are really the voice of a woman reared in the oppressive paternalistic southern way, i think, pleading to understand and be understood.
I am struck with how little I can find on Lee’s private life, her friends and her life style. I have discovered that she actually lived most of her mature life in New York and the friendship with Capote was more important than I had realized. My guess is she lived a pretty avant garde style, while preserving for local consumption the infantilized southern woman.