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Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3) 
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 Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)

Please use this thread to discuss Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3).



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
I had a freshman English professor who read novels as a puzzle or a problem to be solved, looking for clues that unlock hidden meaning. Early on in this book, we already have two clues to investigate. One is the title, which comes from the Bible.
Quote:
For this hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
Isaiah 21:6 KJV

It is probably way too early to solve that mystery, but something to keep an eye on.

The other clue is the poem mentioned below. There are several poetry experts on BookTalk, perhaps they can track this down.
Quote:
The Chattahoochee is wide, flat, and muddy. It was low today; a yellow sandbar had reduced its flow to a trickle. Perhaps it sings in the wintertime, she thought: I do not remember a line of that poem. Piping down the valleys wild? No. Did he write to a waterfowl, or was it a waterfall?



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
thank you Landroid - You have given us a direction......


Quote:
Introduction to the Songs of Innocence
By William Blake

Piping down the valleys wild
Piping songs of pleasant glee
On a cloud I saw a child.
And he laughing said to me.

Pipe a song about a Lamb;
So I piped with merry chear,
Piper pipe that song again—
So I piped, he wept to hear.

Drop thy pipe thy happy pipe
Sing thy songs of happy chear,
So I sung the same again
While he wept with joy to hear

Piper sit thee down and write
In a book that all may read—
So he vanish'd from my sight.
And I pluck'd a hollow reed.

And I made a rural pen,
And I stain'd the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear


Quote:
5Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield.

6For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.


The above makes me think of the last verse of the Bob Dylan song, All Along the Watchtower:

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.


I am feeling that Harper Lee is declaring what she seeth. But she held out and did not want it to be said too soon. I hope she has her timing right. I have heard that she was almost bullied as an old lady, into publishing the work.

This is after the second world war, I realise from her description of Clinton's wound to his face, caused by a German soldier? So twenty years after the plot of TKAM. From the train is she viewing from a distance, and her heart is rejoicing, at sight of the homesteads of the black people with TV aerials??? And the Verbena......I am particularly intrigued by her mention of the the Verbena growing profusely.


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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
Penelope, Interesting parallel in the Blake poem. However in the sentence following the part I quoted above, Harper Lee mentions Sidney Lanier, who wrote a poem about the Chattahoochee river. I think you can probably find that more quickly than I can; perhaps both poems are linked to this book? 8)



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
The Chattahoochee is a landmark, she's almost home, The Song of the Chattahoochee, a poem she doesn't recall in detail, shows the vagary of her awareness about her familial connection to the place, She is unaware of what is about to confront her.

The poem reminds her of a cousin who rebelled in his own sense, and was sent away, a fait unbefitting a proud family with historic linage.

Love the Hendrix reference, musically dark, melodramatic foreboding.

Wild flowers, Verbena, nature perfume's the first signs of poverty, the shanties of the poor southern blacks.

Its interesting that Jean Louise chooses to take the train rather than fly by plain, this delay allows her to set her mind, to get perspective in line.
New York to rural Alabama, 1955, I'd need time to transition also. She is not in a hurry to get home is she?.



Last edited by Taylor on Sun Aug 02, 2015 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
http://m.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/song-chattahoochee

The reason she goes by train is twofold. The last time the pilot flew through a tornado and scared her, but also she didn't want Atticus to have to collect her at an unfeasible hour. He was an old man after all, but no, she doesn't seem to be impatient.


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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
The trains a throwback to her childhood. It makes palpable the feeling of distance and seclusion.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
I posted a link to the relevant poem - but here it is for those who don't like clicking links.


The Song Of The Chattahoochee
Sidney Lanier, 1842 - 1881

Out of the hills of Habersham,
Down the valleys of Hall,
I hurry amain to reach the plain,
Run the rapid and leap the fall,
Split at the rock and together again,
Accept my bed, or narrow or wide,
And flee from folly on every side
With a lover’s pain to attain the plain
Far from the hills of Habersham,
Far from the valleys of Hall.

All down the hills of Habersham,
All through the valleys of Hall,
The rushes cried ‘Abide, abide,'
The willful waterweeds held me thrall,
The laving laurel turned my tide,
The ferns and the fondling grass said ‘Stay,'
The dewberry dipped for to work delay,
And the little reeds sighed ‘Abide, abide,
Here in the hills of Habersham,
Here in the valleys of Hall.'

High o’er the hills of Habersham,
Veiling the valleys of Hall,
The hickory told me manifold
Fair tales of shade, the poplar tall
Wrought me her shadowy self to hold,
The chestnut, the oak, the walnut, the pine,
Overleaning, with flickering meaning and sign,
Said, ‘Pass not, so cold, these manifold
Deep shades of the hills of Habersham,
These glades in the valleys of Hall.'

And oft in the hills of Habersham,
And oft in the valleys of Hall,
The white quartz shone, and the smooth brook-stone
Did bar me of passage with friendly brawl,
And many a luminous jewel lone
-- Crystals clear or a-cloud with mist,
Ruby, garnet and amethyst --
Made lures with the lights of streaming stone
In the clefts of the hills of Habersham,
In the beds of the valleys of Hall.

But oh, not the hills of Habersham,
And oh, not the valleys of Hall
Avail: I am fain for to water the plain.
Downward the voices of Duty call --
Downward, to toil and be mixed with the main,
The dry fields burn, and the mills are to turn,
And a myriad flowers mortally yearn,
And the lordly main from beyond the plain
Calls o’er the hills of Habersham,
Calls through the valleys of Hall.


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He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

Rafael Sabatini


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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
Taylor wrote:
Wild flowers, Verbena, nature perfume's the first signs of poverty, the shanties of the poor southern blacks.

I like your comment and phrasing here Taylor. There's a poet in there. I'm taking it slowly here. We see that straight off her homecomings in the past have been invariably good and joyful, and her family relationships pretty good.
Why should she expect this one to be any different?
Also I think Lee is setting up certain aspects of the way things at that time are and where they are going.
There's progress with the mechanical innovations and a sense of things being as they are to serve people in particular positions in terms of status and wealth.
Pressing buttons commands objects to serve Jean and one magically commands a human porter to her service. Still humans can fall foul of mechanisms if they don't obey their instructions, and it's just as well that employed human servants are around to remedy careless disobedience.
That designed to serve can suddenly turn into a trap turning on those it's meant to serve. Both certain people and machines are designed to serve so is there any difference between them?
There's a sense of how things are meant to be but a caution thrown in presaging how this all might really play out.



Last edited by Flann 5 on Tue Aug 04, 2015 10:55 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
Quote:
Flann:
I like your comment and phrasing here Taylor. There's a poet in there. I'm taking it slowly here. We see that straight off her homecomings in the past have been invariably good and joyful, and her family relationships pretty good.
Why should she expect this one to be any different?


Thanks for the compliment, My comment on the flowers was my attempt to turn a good phrase.

Yes, her past home comings have all been what going home is supposed to be.

Jean Louise should not expect this one to be different, Its the audience that should have ears up.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
LanDroid wrote:
I had a freshman English professor who read novels as a puzzle or a problem to be solved, looking for clues that unlock hidden meaning. Early on in this book, we already have two clues to investigate. One is the title, which comes from the Bible.


Quote:
For this hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.
Isaiah 21:6 KJV



It is probably way too early to solve that mystery, but something to keep an eye on.

Penelope wrote:
The above makes me think of the last verse of the Bob Dylan song, All Along the Watchtower:

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.

I am feeling that Harper Lee is declaring what she seeth. But she held out and did not want it to be said too soon.


Dylan was directly referencing Isaiah. In Isaiah the watchman sees a lion.
One reviewer I read suggests the watchman is conscience. Harper is taking the idea of seer beyond reporter or even moral judge,I think. Babylon will surely fall.
The seer has prescience and sees this house of cards will be blown down, perhaps in divine judgement.
I'll have to read on to find out how she employs this, but the biblical allusion is to that beyond the natural.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
Still on the first chapter. Jean seems to be a technophobe. There's progress with trains planes and automobiles. But planes can be flown by reckless pilots through tornadoes,trains can sway unnervingly and fully automatic cars technology might just fail and then what can you do?
The car is Henry's servant but these things carry us and we are at their mercy. Henry has faith in General Motors even with his life.
Jean has an inner restlessness and cant quite settle for the norms of Maycomb. It's a backwater forgotten by the rest of the world and oblivious to anything outside it's island.
She lives in New York and while t.v. aerials complement natures flowers as opiate for the poor blacks, in reality time has stood still in Maycomb for a very long time.
Atticus is admirable, uncomplaining and generous.
Henry's dad abandoned him at birth and his mother worked night and day to feed and educate him,but in the end barely had enough to pay for her funeral.In Maycomb life is tough even for some whites.

Henry gets away from authorities when he's twelve but when old enough joins the army,fights in it's war and afterwards becomes an expert on the laws of the authorities,and functions as lawyer in that system.
Themes emerge of authorities,which her cousin attacks and is incarcerated benignly but forcibly by family,and necessarily as a consequence.
Things are as they are with the legal system and authorities maintaining the structures of their society as they have been and seemingly are meant to be. The whites in power with the blacks serving them while doomed to drudgery and poverty in the natural order of things.
Perhaps the narrative is too much moulded by the themes and not quite flowing naturally with the sudden death of Atticus' son and the fatherless Henry being effectively adopted as replacement,for example.
Seems like her brother gets bumped off for thematic convenience.
Jean won't be marrying Henry as she can't just slip into that world naturally and sees it as a prison of sorts,and isn't quite in love either with Henry or the life of Maycomb.
It was her first novel and is still enjoyable in many ways. I'm curious about how the theme of mechanisms fits in as it goes on. Some sort of metaphor?



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
Thanks Flann. A very good summary. I am in Part 2 first or second chapter. I tend to recap each time I return to the book.

Jean feels a bit guilty at not returning to care for Atticus and is grateful to her aggravating aunt for doing that. I think that is a common dilemma with aged parents and siblings. I notice Clinton isn't expected to help with Atticus even though virtually adopted. Is it because he's a male? His association with the aunt is very polite and formal whereas Jean 's attitude is much more familiar and abrasive.


I imagine the aunt having been a Southern Belle in her youth.


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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
Penelope wrote:
Jean feels a bit guilty at not returning to care for Atticus and is grateful to her aggravating aunt for doing that. I think that is a common dilemma with aged parents and siblings. I notice Clinton isn't expected to help with Atticus even though virtually adopted. Is it because he's a male? His association with the aunt is very polite and formal whereas Jean 's attitude is much more familiar and abrasive.

There are societal 'norms' of what is expected of who it seems in various cultures and times. Henry is described as Atticus' legs and eyes and takes on a helpful role in a general way. It's true though as you say Penelope, that it often seems expected of daughters rather than sons to be the carers.
There's some current news about a U.S. bookstore offering refunds to any disappointed readers ,with the explanation that it was just a first draft and a bit like Joyce's Stephen Hero to his later Portrait of the Artist.
The Guardian linked a blog of writer Ursula K Le Guin's with a thoughtful reflection on the controversy and what it's really like to live in such a society.
Le Guin thinks Watchman should have been her first novel rather that TKAM and that she needed editorial encouragement to work on it rather than the simpler one. Le Guin articulates the complexities of family ties and loyalties without denying the realities of injustice and bigotry.
It might be of interest to some of us reading the book. You have to scroll down to the end of the blog to find it.
www.ursulakleguin.com/blog2015.html#New



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part I (Chapters 1, 2, and 3)
Well, I have read the first three chapters and found them rather boring. The writing is easy to read, but, so far, I don't think it's “brilliant”. Jean Louise is supposed to be a very independent, mature 26-year old, living alone in NY. She makes people around her furious (Henry and aunt). She is unsentimental, sarcastic, rude and crude to the people around her and is still behaving like a petulant child. That may have been cute in a young girl, but a 26 year old woman, I feel, should be more refined. But that's a study of a character, of a woman, that I may or may not like as I keep reading.

I think the character description of aunt Alexandra is great. I can see that woman and feel how infuriating she can be as a “disapprover”, I've known one or two in my own life.

I find Jean Louise's vocabulary contrasting with her supposedly newly acquired and independent life in NY, for instance the use of words “Aunty” and “yessum”...and perhaps that's done to give it a Southern flavor to the book.

Reading on...



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