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“To Kill a Mockingbird” Sequel May Be Taught

Michael Pereira, Staff Writer

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“To Kill a Mockingbird”: the book that nearly everyone has or will read at least once in their life. Up to recently, the book has been the sole product of the author, Harper Lee. Now, “To Kill a Mockingbird” is reuniting with it’s long lost father, “Go Set a Watchman.”

“Go Set a Watchman” can be considered the direct sequel to “To Kill a Mockingbird.” It focuses on Scout (whose real name is Jean Louise Finch) 20 years in the future, returning from New York to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father, Atticus Finch. Not too much has been released about the plot of the story, except that it will also include many flashbacks about Scout’s childhood. So many, in fact, that at the time the manuscript was originally written, Harper Lee’s publisher told her to scrap it. Yes, “Go Set a Watchman” was written before “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Instead, she was told to write a different story not about Scout in the future, but about her in the past. That book came to be known as “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“It’s a masterpiece of American Literature,” said English II teacher Justin Ross, about “To kill a Mockingbird.” Mr. Ross first read “To Kill a Mockingbird”  in either sophomore or junior year. Now that the only other book by Harper Lee is being released, Mr. Ross’s original excitement has been replaced with skepticism because of controversy  surrounding its publication.

Allegedly, Harper Lee’s publisher found it in the fall of 2014, nearly 60 years after it being originally written (it was written around mid-1950’s). Some news sources such as NPR and BBC News have stated that the conditions of the book’s release may not have been entirely under Harper Lee’s control. She is currently 88 years old, and has recently suffered the loss of her sister, who was also her caretaker. It is possible her publishers have pressured Lee into releasing her book, especially in her current state.

UD1 Jefferson Pereira is also skeptical of the book’s release. “At first when I heard about it’s release, I was really excited to read it, but after hearing of the controversy of the book coming out, I think it’s better off unreleased.”  Whether the controversy is true or not, we may never know, but what we do know is that the book is set to release on July 14, 2015. Upcoming UD1 students may not need to go out and buy the book if they would want to read it, as there is a possibility of a second book by Harper Lee to be taught in English II.

“Go Set a Watchman” has a chance to be taught as early as next Fall phase. However, before the book can be incorporated into the curriculum, it must be read by Mr. Ross. Because of the air of mystery and controversy surrounding “Go Set a Watchman,” it might not even be added to the curriculum. Regardless, even if it’s not added to the curriculum, Mr. Ross is interested. “I’m going to read it. Even if I hear it’s not good, I’m going to read it,” Mr. Ross said. “I almost see it as an obligation [to read it].”

However, not everyone thinks that “Go Set a Watchman” will live up to its expectations.

“I don’t think [Go Set a Watchman] will be able to compare with the literary splash that ‘Mockingbird’ left,” said Ancient World History 1 teacher Richard Gallerani. When “To Kill a Mockingbird” was published in 1960, it was special. “It was a creative way of addressing a serious problem,” Mr. Gallerani said. Because of all the mystery surrounding the book, Mr. Gallerani has not pre-ordered it. “If it’s good, I’ll borrow Mr. Gillespie’s copy,” he said.

Regardless of how well “Go Set a Watchman” performs, there is one thing in common that both books are centered that strikes out to Mr. Ross: Atticus Finch and his parental methods. “I think Atticus is the perfect role model for fathers,” he said. “I look up to him. He is a timeless character.”

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“To Kill a Mockingbird” Sequel May Be Taught