Go, set a watchman

“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscious.” — Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee

Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman is dismaying. In the generations since Mockingbird was published, readers had come to rely upon Atticus, to lean upon him, for moral certitude. Now, we have lost our hero.

In truth, Lee has created two Atticuses: one, the person whom we wish to exemplify; the other, whom we may still be. I do not suggest that all people are racist, but that people fail, by some measure, to achieve the ideal measure of themselves.

The quality that makes a person noble, i.e. the willingness to stand apart, is also the quality that makes a person frail. Right or wrong, that person is exposed (uncovered) — there is no hiding behind the “collective conscious.” Now, each person must stand where he or she can be tested.

© 2016, Mark R. Adams. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply