Articles Blog

Go Set a Watchman Summary & Analysis (Harper Lee) – Thug Notes

Go Set a Watchman Summary & Analysis (Harper Lee) – Thug Notes


Wassup y’all? Today on Thug Notes we bringin
it back to da South Side with Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. Now if you an OG Mockingbird fan, you prolly
‘spectin this book to be written from the perspective of Scout, or “Jean Louise” as
she called these days. But it ain’t like dat, girl: In this book, we gettin da lowdown from
a third person omniscient narrator. Anyway, it’s sometime in the 1950s and 26
year old Jean Louise Finch dun peaced outta da boonies of Alabama and now she keepin it
street up in New York. But girl ain’t forgotten her roots, so she hop on a train and swang
back home to Maycomb County to chill wit her daddy Atticus, whose ol’ crusty ass all jacked
up with rheumatoid arthritis now. Up at da station, Jean get scooped up by Henry
Clinton, a back when friend of Jean and lawyer who work fo’ Atticus. This dude don’t want
nuthin’ mo than to make Jean his biddy fo’ life. Homeboy might not be no swanky uptown
playa like they do up in New York, but he got solid rep up in Maycomb and his love fo’
Jean is legit. So Jean drop in at da old crib where Atticus’s
sister Alexandra also livin’ since SOMEBODY gotta wipe Atticus’s ass. Atticus all like
“Girl. You hear bout what goin down with this whole segregation talk up in the supreme court?”
Jean like “Sho’ nuff, pops. Brown vs. Board of Education is my jam.” Round this time, we hera bout how Jean’s lil
bro Jem died years ago. And cuz o dat, da finch’s black cook Calpurnia got all to’ up,
chunked deuce, and ain’t nobody seen her since. Later, errybody gettin’ they church on when
they meet up with Uncle Jack Finch, Atticus’s brutha from the same mutha. Afta’ all dat
holy rolling, Jean peep game at a pamphlet in Atticus’s living room called “The Black
Plague.” And this sh** is exactly as racist as it sound. Jean like “Alexandra! Da hell
dis mess doin up in mah daddy’s house?” Alex like “Why you trippin girl? That’s some truth
right there. Blacks people ain’t sh** compared to white people.” OH. NO. SHE. DIDN’T. Alexandra say da pamphlet came from somethin’
called the Citizen’s Council. Since they meetin’ now,
Jean head to the courthouse where sho’ nuff, Atticus, Henry and all da Maycomb big dawgs
sitttin round a long table talk bout how blacks ain’t nuthin’ but cockroaches. Atticus. You
were my man, and now you practically attending Klan meetings? ET TU, BRUH? Jean so to’ up by what she see, she throw
up, book it home, and pass da fu** out. Jean wake up Monday and get word that Calpurnia’s
grandson accidentally wrecked someone’s sh** wit his hoopty, and now Atticus gonna take
the case just so the NAACP don’t get involved. Jean go see Calpurnia to show a girl some
love, but Cal don’t want nuthin to do wit a racist-ass Finch. When Jean like “Cal whatcha
doin to me? Calpurnia ll “Girl, what y’all doin to US?” Jean feelin’ lonesome as hell. So she hit up her uncle Jack and be all like
“Yo. Da hell has my daddy been smokin? How da hell did he become a racist all da sudden?”
Girl don’t get no straight answer, so she roll over to Atticus’s office fo’ some real
talk. Cept, da only bruh there is Henry, and she lay it on him raw sayin she ain’t neva’
gonna marry a lil racist bitch. When Atticus drop in, Jean like “Pops! Da
fu** you think you doin’ wit dat council?” Atticus like “Look girl. This ain’t no front.
I think da blacks ain’t as legit as da whites. Straight up.” Jean just bout loses her sh**
and tells him dat she ain’t never gonna forgive him. I mean, she used to look up to Atticus.
Hell. We all did. So she book it back home and start packin
her sh** to go back to New York. Uncle Jack drop in and give her five across the face
to calm her ass down. Afta’ girl spits out some blood, Jack po’s up some henny and explains
what’s goin down. He tell her dat she spent her whole life worshipping Atticus like a
god, but truth is, he was bound to disappoint her sooner or later. So she gotta sack up
and become her own person. Afta dat, Jean bout to driv Atticus home from
work when pops say: “look girl. Even though you said some messed up sh** to me, I’m proud
of you. You stood up fo what you think is right, and that’s how a real G rolls.” JEan
like “Ah hell, pops. I love you even though you a racist piece of sh**.” THE END. Now if you ain’t already know, there’s a lotta
smack talk goin bout how shady this book’s publication was. But is it all bullsh**? Let’s
take a look: Fact number 1: Harper Lee is old as sh**.
Girl lives in an assisted living home, and has been fo a while. Afta’ a stroke in 2007
leavin her sight and ability to hear all jacked up, she ain’t exactly at the top of her game.
Of course, that don’t mean she can’t make her own decisions, but it sho as hell don’t
make it easier. Way back in 2002, Harper’s lawyer Alice, who
was also her sistah, said Harper would pretty much sign any ol pap you slang in front of
her. But when sis died in 2014, legal control went to Tonja, a junior partner in Alice’s
firm, and SHE da one who started hustlin’ da manuscript. Most importantly, Harper Lee
spent da last couple DECADES sayin she neva’ wanted the book to see the light of day. But what even IS this thing? Is it a legit
sequel? Well that’s definitely what some folk thought; but truth is, this sh** was written
BEFORE To Kill a Mockingbird. See, Harper’s editor read dis manuscript back in 1957, told
Lee it sucked, and made her rewrite it til 1960, when To Kill a Mockingbird hit the shelves.
So THAT’S why some of Watchman sound EXACTLY like the original. I mean, peep this, son. These paragraphs are
almost THE EXACT SAME THING. So we most likely lookin at is an early draft
of Mockingbird that was chopped n’ screwed so dat somebody can get in on dat sweet sequel
money Anyway, back to the book. When Jean Louise
get back home, girl cain’t stop buggin’ bout how different errything be:
“My aunt is a hostile stranger, my Calpurnia won’t have anything to do with me, Hank is
insane, and Atticus – something’s wrong with me, it’s something about me. It has to
be because all these people cannot have changed.” (167) Jean Louise recognize dat if she thinkin bout
marrying Henry’s crazy racist ass, she gonna have to change HERSELF to make it work
‘Is that what loving your man is…[y]ou mean losing your own identity, don’t you?’ ‘In
a way, yes,’ said Henry.” (227) Man, fu** DAT. Eventually, girl drops dat
scrub sayin she gotta keep it 100 erry day and stay true to what she know is right. And dat’s what da title all about. Like Uncle
Jack say, “Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience.”
(265) Going to set a watchman basically mean stickin’
to yo guns and defining what you think is right and what you think is wrong. Look, as
time go by, things and people gonna change. And when they do, you gotta make sho’ you
don’t just go with the flow. You gotta be willing to roll solo to defend what you know
is right. And there ain’t no change harder fo’ my girl
than accepting dat her daddy Atticus ain’t perfect. Like Jean say:
“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.” (179) She spent her whole life lookin’ up to this
cat, and now since he sippin on dat haterade actin’ all racist and sh**, she gotta keep
it real, and make it damn clear that she ain’t bout dat. But like I said, it’s gonna be a
bitch. Dat’s why all throughout this book da words
“Childe Roland” poppin’ up, which allude to a dope poem by Robert Browning called “Childe
Roland to the dark Tower Came” where a dude gotta beast through a journey to a dark tower
without any of his boys to get his back, and when he gets there, he prolly dies. Likewise,
Jean also gotta go on a solo quest- hence why she feelin all alone- AND she gotta kill
part of herself to succeed. Now even though we don’t know what happen
to Childe Roland when he make it to the dark tower, we sho know what happen to Jean-Louise
– Uncle Jack tell her she more of a biggot than Atticus? Da hell?! He say Jean-Louise doin her daddy straight
dirty by focusing on ONE flaw. Just cuz Atticus is racist don’t mean he ain’t a baller in
a million other ways. She used to think Atticus was a God. Now she know he just another flawed
flesh n’ blood homie. Now here’s da craziest part- we in the same
position as Jean. Hear me out, playa: To Kill a Mockingbird is one of da dopest novels of
all time- the movie is pretty damn legit too. And da biggest reason fo’ dat is Atticus Finch-
a straight up WARRIOR fo’ equality and justice. Atticus made GOD knows how many kids wanna
become lawyers. So when racist Atticus came hot off the presses
in Go Set a Watchman, some peeps started losin their damn minds, sayin Atticus was ruined,
and Harper Lee’s legacy was dead. Thing is, that’s exactly the kinda thing Uncle Jack
tells Jean-Louise at da end of the novel: even if someone got a whackass worldview,
you should still give em a chance. So is Uncle Jack right? Does Atticus deserve
a chance? Can people who straight up support racism, sexism, and homophobia still be good
people? Or does sh** like dat make a brutha automatically a monster? I know what I think,
playa… but I ain’t gonna set yo watchman for ya.

100 thoughts on “Go Set a Watchman Summary & Analysis (Harper Lee) – Thug Notes”

  1. I understand this because this is just like what George R.R. Martin does in Game of Thrones by creating grey/morally ambiguous characters throughout the story.

  2. My uncle and grandmother are extremely retarded when it comes to race and other topics, but I still love them. Yet they are so ass backwards…. But I care for them…. Yet it's so gosh darn embarrassing to listen to them talk…I'm sure they feel the same about myself and the ladies who occupy my life tho. Yet so goddamn ass backwards.

  3. I say all types of racist homophobic sexist stuff, and I am cooler than a polar bear's toe nails. But I don't support these ideologies of oppression, nor do I hide my personal bias. Instead of saying "I am not racist, but…" next time just be honest and say "I am racist, but…" for example "Now I know I am racist, but I am just sick of white men talking to me about their fantasy football teams. More like their fantasy gang bang team, am I right?"

  4. No man is perfect, and yet the excellent gardener must prune his bonsai trees. All branches will not remain.

  5. Excellent Review …. I SO WISH i would have seen THIS REVIEW earlier of "Go Set A Watchman" … i agree with everything (after re-reading) … One thing? … was she attempting for Atticus to be "The Watchman" ? AND when she Rewrote it, (to Satisfy her Publisher) she redeveloped Atticus INTO "the Watchman" we KNOW from Mockingbird ?? think about it, read the passage from Isaiah 21:6 ….. (here is King James Isaiah 21:6 “Go, set a watchman; let him announce what he sees …." (Atticus?) …. Excellent Review of a book that i read MANY TIMES OVER, to get past the BLOCK of horrid Racism to see some beauty that developed into the mockingbird masterpiece …. ALSO READ "The Mockingbird Next Door" by Marja Mill … Loved It …wail maybe you review THAT ONE TOO ! i must catch up here and subscribe ….

  6. While I don't think being a racist makes someone a complete monster, that doesn't mean you should continue to support or respect that person. That's the reason I stoped reading Dilbert Comics when the author came out as a Trump supporter.

  7. I actually love this idea of a character that used to be great for a certain reason going completely against that, turning into a asshole. And the whole "Can someone be racist and still be a good person?" thing is a very interesting question.

  8. I love my father, he's easily the wisest man I've ever met, but god damn it if he isn't the biggest fucking moron i've ever encountered.

  9. Mad respect for how you handle the last bit dr sweets. Says a lot about a man who respects his audience enough to refrain from telling them how to think. You the man in my book. Keep the videos rollin.

  10. Atticus was flawed from the beginning as ALL HUMAN BEINGS are. Even with the religious fanatics and zealots screaming the quote from the bible, "For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of god…" God is nothing but an overblown ideal of what humans can hope to be but never truly will be. The word "sin" translated from the Greek, literally means "miss" as when an arrow misses the target. Atticus knows his flaws and knows from where they have arisen from – he talks about his childhood, his struggles and the environment from which he came. He also, as a lawyer, knows that the wheels of justice turn very slowly and when we as a society try and rush things it can go south VERY BADLY and more quickly, think of the holocaust from Hitler's POV and consequently of anti-communism from McCarthy's – pushing your agenda ahead of seeing humans instead of races or political ideologues causes hysteria but when HUMANNESS is seen or revealed in a less threatening context then the idea of justice for humans will stick – that doesn't mean that gross inhumanity doesn't need to be challenged but to get ahead of the "game" to try and stop it from happening. A good mirror of antithesis would be that evil racist little bastard who killed 9 innocent people in a church – the judge who convicted him then called for him to be "forgiven" ? Forgiveness doesn't work that way – even in the bible, which the judge was loosely referencing, it calls for FIRST for the offender to be truly remorseful and turn from his sinning ways and then forgiveness will have a "place to land". Otherwise the "sinner" won't be able to forgive his self or be more humane toward others. Do I agree with Atticus and his close relations racist attitudes in this novel? Of course not but I didn't grow up there in that era. Do I agree with Calpurnia's feelings of betrayal and rejection? You damn bet I do but never as strongly as her or any African American who faced and still faces institutionalized racism – being that I am not African American and will never truly understand what that must be like.

  11. This just leaves me with more questions Atticus being a hard racists goes against his characterization in To Kill a Mocking bird. He spent the entire book teaching Scout to look at things from another point of you, just for this book to come out and say just kidding he was actually a secret racist the entire time. Also it feels dirty that this book might have been stolen form a poor old women in a home so some sleazily lawyer could make an extra buck. I think Lee was write in never wanting this book published in the first place. I mean finding out Atticus is a racists would be like finding out Harry Potter openly hates muggle born. It makes no sense.

  12. How does this book work as an original I mean it really doesn't seem meaningful to us reading it if we've never known Atticus

  13. I just finished this book. It was painful to read. I NEARLY hated this book but at least this video made me laugh really hard. 🙂

  14. Most people have been exposed to the hero version of Atticus Finch before this book came out. So, they are already biased. They think that the character in their head is the only one. But, just like Rose from The Last Jedi, we had to see our hero or symbol of hope as just a man. A man with his own thoughts, feelings and beliefs. The one thing I keep reflecting on when comparing the two is the part in To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus plays guard to Tom Robinson. The man stands up to a mob just to make sure his client makes it to court. He puts his own reputation on the line. I cannot help but think that from one to another To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman depict two very different people.

  15. I've read the book and I have to say it left me kinda numb but also really enlightened. I'm a big fan of to kill a mockingbird (as I'm sure most people are), and for me this book was incoherent at times but not bad and actually a pretty good read. It had some excellent points and a lot of well placed literary devices. I'm glad that it was published, even if Lee didn't want it to be, but one thing that really helped me was reading it as a manuscript rather than a novel and being open minded about what the characters say. I think simply summing up that Atticus is a racist isn't quite right, because while he admits to it, it's done in a way that's hard to understand but that also leaves the reader with the same confusion and questions that Scout has. I feel like it really try's to put the reader in the mindset of someone living in a small town in the 50's and tries to show the audience what life was like then. Thug notes did a really good job explaining it and I loved his intelligent and honest analysis of the book.

  16. I loved this book. There are a lot of clues in To Kill a Mockingbird that Atticus was a little shady and a little bit willing to bend the law and his morals. Nothing in Watchman actually contradicts Mockingbird, so it's a sequel and Mockingbird is a prequel. In the end, Atticus says maybe his (racist) views will change over time. I learned a lot from Jean in Mockingbird, then as an adult I learned a lot from Jean in Watchman.

  17. I don't understand why the perception of Atticus has to change when Go Set A Watchman was actually a prequel and Harper Lee never actually put his true characteristics together until the finished project of To Kill A Mockingbird. The future was written first and probably wasn't meant to see the light of day for a reason, that being that wasn't how she wanted her characters stories to act and be told in the first place. Obviously, Atticus wasn't a finished project and the Atticus in Go Set A Watchman was meant to be a different man a part of a different story. But she never really finished that book or thought it acceptable so?? I don't understand why y'all can't keep your regular perceptions of Atticus being great. I mean Martin Luther King Jr. cheated on his wife. Was he not still great? Atticus is fictional. He was only meant to exist in TKAM. Leave him there.

  18. Well in this post Last Jedi world I can understand how the fans feel. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Watchman may be a prequel, but alas it’s now the sequel that didn’t need to be since it ruined beloved characters that people have treasured throughout the years. #Notmyluke say the Star Wars fans. Miss Lee’s fans can darn well say #NotmyAtticus. Him being just a man is not an excuse.

  19. Thanks you helped with my book report project Csuse I did not read the book and it’s due tomroow and I’m doing it all todsy so thanks man😂😂

  20. I was disappointed/confused that Atticus did a 180, almost ruined the original. But since I learned that this is just an early draft written before… I don’t count it cannon.

  21. I've got nothing against racists. There was a 5 kilometer charity run in town today and I did not run over a single contestant. We good?

  22. The problem with "Go Set a Watchman" is not that it was published, it's that it was marketed as the "SEQUEL!" of TKaM instead of an early draft/"The Making of TKaM". Had the book included an author's note that talked about the development of Lee's work and not marketed as a "SEQUEL!" (and also gotten Lee's legit permission), then things would have been just fine. It wouldn't have been a middle finger to her work.

  23. Since it was written BEFORE Mockingbird as a draft and Lee didn't even want to publish it either, I think it's safe to say that racist Atticus is non-canon.

  24. "I know what I think, but I ain't gonna set your watchman for you."
    Damn lowkey that shit was heavy. Never thought about the whole 'can someone still be a good person if they have a MAJOR flaw' thing. That's a tough one. I always love a channel that makes me think. Thanks for the video Sparky Sweets <3

  25. I think the moral of the story could he seen as: just because somebody does good at some point, is it truly how they feel? Or is it just performative to a degree?!.
    Atticus was heroic in mockingbird. Sure. But he was also a typical white saviour-character. He was nothing but I good example to the reader , without any deeper exploration of how and why. Did he do the right thing for himself? Of for the black man he won the case for?
    Was it about winning out of principle or was it just for his personal reputation.
    Can he be a good dad and a racist?

    And here comes the pain in. We, as readers of mockingbird, were taught to believe that a good deed equals a good character. Being a good dad equals being a good person. Doing the right thing once means you do and think the right things all the time.

    But that’s not how actual flaws people function.
    Is Atticus being a good dad and him being inherently racist excluding each other ? No.
    Because wanting what’s best for your family, in your opinion, doesn’t mean you think of the well-being of others. It’s not automatically connected.

    Can Scout reject his views and still love him? I surely couldn’t, not after such a betrayal.
    But isn’t rust exactly the message of this book. What would you do? Would you stop loving somebody who feels so much hate? Will you try to change them? Will you change for them?
    These are some big questions.

    None of them are easy.
    I personally wouldn’t want to be in her position. But… aren’t we daily? To a degree?
    Our uncle makes a racist joke? We roll our eyes. Our grandma holds her handbag tighter when a black men walks by? Do we call her out? Not really.
    Why is that? Why do feel shock about Atticus , but accept casual racism in daily life?
    Maybe because it’s uncomfortable. Because we love those people. Because if we have to face who they actually are, fully face it, we couldn’t love them anymore. So we rather look away.

    Scout doesn’t want to believe that somebody she loved like a god , is in fact a bit of a villain, and his love for her doesn’t make him a good person.

    Just like the reader, she is tossed a curveball of confusion. But it’s important to look the truth directly in the face.

    There are no heroes. There only people out for their own personal gain. There are only people flawed and problematic To say the least. There are no gods.
    One good deed doesn’t define a men.

    Being a good father doesn’t define your character.

    Only how much you are willing to hate others, does.

    It’s about how much you allow yourself to hate, not how much you naturally love.

    Don’t have heroes. They fall.

  26. Considering the circumstances surrounding how GSAW was published, i think this is what one might call the perfect definition of an "illegitimate sequel".

  27. I am now 55 years old, and on September 12th of this year l’ll be 56. The older became the more I realize all our heroes have feet of clay.

  28. I thought another theme of this book was about how there are no heroes. If you are looking around for someone infallible (to your eyes) to look up to, you might just be desiring external validation of what you feel is right and wrong which can give rise to indolence.

    Morality is not something for you to admire in other people or something for you to get pats on the head over. A moral code is something you must reflect on for its own sake and then validate through your own actions – there is no looking to others to do the good for you.

  29. This book would have been fine if it was anything other than a sequel To Kill A Mockingbird. But because it is the book doesn't work well yes this book was written before To Kill A Mockingbird and characters had to be different in To Set A Watchmen but because of that these aren't the same characters they're just rough draft versions that were scrapped and when Lee wrote Mocking Bird it was she obviously changed the characters and made them different from To Set A Watchmen. And because of that this book sucks because it's not the same characters we no there totally different versions that would not work with To Kill A Mockingbird.

  30. I'm in favor of that ending – hear me out

    I don't think I fully understand what people mean when they say to "give someone a chance", or when they refer to people as "good people" or "bad people", in the calculus that this book makes us all second-guess. People are people. We're complicated as shit, and we can never even figure ourselves out, let alone anyone else. Any one hard-metric to binarily classify people as "good" or "bad" just seems so incomplete to me.

    The ending for example – accepting that her dad's a racist PoS, but loving him anyway – I think it speaks on a couple dimensions. Maybe she decides to feel that way for herself, and not for his sake – in order to continue having a father she doesn't hate, because daddy issues fuck with us mad hard. She can't control him, so this is the best she can do for herself. She isn't condoning the parts of him she disagrees with, but I don't see the value in writing someone off entirely because of a difference in opinion. It's not like she accepts his racism when she says she loves him despite it. What's the alternative? Hating all of him rather than hating just that part of him? What good will that bring? She'll be out a father, he'll be out a daughter, and it'll just segment them, like American society is so segmented today.

    I think that maybe if we tried to look a little deeper into those people with traits we despise, we'd all get to know each other a little better, rather than just writing each other off and taking hard sides. How are racist people ever gonna see the error of their ways if the only people who will associate with them – those who are willing to "give them a chance" – are those who share their prejudices? It makes me think of the harsh, destabilizing differences in society today. The internet's a microcosm of what I mean. People associate with people who will back up their beliefs, no matter how shitty, and they just avoid people who have conflicting ideals. We stay away from opposing communities. We mute/unfriend them on Facebook, so all that we see is all that backs up what we already believe, and we never have to second guess the things we hold as true. Maybe if we accepted that part of someone can be shitty, and stayed open to the idea of other parts of them still resembling something we could care about and keep as a part of our lives, maybe we'd open ourselves up to the sort of communication, from differing perspectives, that might heal this riven cesspool we see American society spiraling down today. I don't see another way out.

    Or not. I don't know. I don't have any answers.

  31. Hearing the author didn’t support the publication of the book is all I need to hear to conclude this is just a fan fiction, I know that point could be argued, but Atticus was my favorite character in any book I was forced to read against my own will. The way he out though and manipulate a bunch of ignorant racist into making themselves look foolish made him a hero to me like Iron man. To make him himself a ignorant racist would do no less than to destroy him

  32. This entire book was the equivalent of getting beat up in a fucking alleyway and I love and hate it at the same time. It was a rollercoaster.

  33. I’ve been binge watching these ever since my college profesor showed us the Sound and the Fury Thug Notes- they’re fantastic!
    Everything about this book is polarizing to say the least- from its questionable publication to the text to subtext in the book itself. Even my feelings about it are polarized- I do like the message of how putting someone in a pedestal being unhealthy, but on the other hand I can definitely understand why a large majority of readers heavily dislike the book and what happened to the character of Atticus.
    The video however, there’s no doubt- it’s one of the best in an already excellent series (Those closing lines will linger into my mind)

  34. president Obama can add these two reads by Harper Lee to his two of his mom and dad even if the birth certificate is invalid.

  35. So I just finished this book today … and while I agree with many and find the seemingly unfounded character shifts in Atticus difficult to stomach – I found the book to be quite beautiful and well written. I thought the things Scout went through in her finding out the Atticus isn’t the god she thought he was – but that he was just human – was heartbreaking and I could relate (I think we all had this moment in our lives).

    I also loved the childhood flashbacks. Felt like TKAM 2.0.

  36. Wait if everyone is his/her own island, and you gotta protect what's you think is right, isn't Atticus protecting racism a right thing too? Especially since TKAM is basically all about framing (but still maintain a sense of moral duty)? Is TSAW seriously proposing moral relativism?

  37. I haven’t read the book but Atticus becoming a racist makes sense in the terms of the themes. Just because Atticus use to be a good man doesn’t mean he’s always going to be like that. You can’t be good for one day of your life and expect to stay like that you have to GO SET A WATCHMEN.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *