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The metamorphosis of Harper Lee’s Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird to Go Set a Watchman
Frampton, EdithSciurba, Katherine
The Metamorphosis of Harper Lee’s Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird to Go Set a Watchman examines Harper Lee’s construction of Scout Finch’s childhood through the social construction of childhood innocence and the sociological implications of Southern regionalism. The nostalgia apparent in some of the reactions to Lee’s beloved illustration of childhood discloses a desire to return to time that America cannot return to because of its obvious social inequity. This work is concerned with the child at the center of this nostalgia for a historical period that disenfranchised so many people, especially Black citizens who at the time searched in vain for a new beginning during Reconstruction. I argue that Scout’s childhood leaves a lasting psychic impression that is evidenced most clearly in her return to Maycomb as an adult in Lee’s novel, Go Set a Watchman (2015), which was published 55years later, posthumously. I read Scout’s socialization as a form of indoctrination that insists that she—a white child growing up in the South—participates in the systematic oppression that makes it legal and socially acceptable to be racist and commit state sanctioned violence against Black people in Alabama during Reconstruction. The psychic effects of her role as both witness and participant becomes more apparent when Jean Louise—Scout all grown up—returns to Maycomb in Go Set a Watchman when she learns that her father, Maycomb’s moral compass, and her love interest, Henry, are members of their town’s “the citizen’s council” group. Jean Louise’s return to Maycomb forces her to face not only her family’s questionable stance on racial justice but also the true impact of the way that Maycomb’s citizens choose to inflict their history on Scout as she becomes an adult.
English and Comparative Literature
Arts and Letters
San Diego State University
Master of Arts (M.A.) San Diego State University, 2021
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