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Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19) 
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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
The dynamics between Atticus/uncle and Jean seemed rather contrived to me, but I was engaged non-the-less. That is quite a clever thing...... When your audience can see manipulation but are still interested.

John Fowles said all novels are about conflict because without conflict there is no story.

I think life is like that......we create our own conflict to an extent....or life tends to be boring?? We write our own life stories....... So take care to write a good one. Xx


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Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:35 pm
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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
Penelope wrote:
The dynamics between Atticus/uncle and Jean seemed rather contrived to me, but I was engaged non-the-less. That is quite a clever thing...... When your audience can see manipulation but are still interested.


Frankly, Tennessee Williams and Eugene O'Neill usually leave me feeling like they have done that. It is indeed an exceptional gift.

Quote:
I think life is like that......we create our own conflict to an extent....or life tends to be boring?? We write our own life stories....... So take care to write a good one.


This goes a little deeper than "you have to pick your battles". More like, "it says a lot about a person what challenges they consider worth taking on", no?



Sun Aug 30, 2015 8:36 am
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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
I did not think the book was brilliant and deserves such universal acclaim. The childhood flashbacks are well written, funny and interesting. However, I personally cannot identify with Jean Louise's character at all. She is too melodramatic, cruel, and unpolished to people around her for a college graduate living and working in NY. I would have liked to know what she was doing in NY, where she was working, etc. I personally did not always like my parents or agreed with their views when I was 25, but I was never that raw and cruel. She is shocked by the pervasive segregationist feelings in Maycomb. Why? She lived there through her high school years and would have had to be aware of them, even though she did not feel the same way.

Atticus is hardly existent, hardly noticeable in this book. In this book he is not a hero, not perfect, but he may not have had strong segregationist feelings just because he attended the town Council meetings. He did not necessarily condone them. I'm thinking that a man's decisions are not always based on any one thing. He may have taken the legal defense case in TKAM because it was a challenge, to advance his career, etc.

Uncle Jack's “sermons” to Jean Louise seem too preachy to me and I was thinking that they could have been written by someone else. They left me flat, with a reaction of “what did he just say?”

All in all, the book made me think that most people are unaware of their own bigotry until it hits them in some personal way. I had never had any interaction with black people until I came to America in 1949, so there was no prejudice instilled in me by my parents or culture in my childhood. I always thought of myself as not prejudiced, went to school with them, worked with them, and live in an integrated neighborhood. Some of those interactions were good, some were bad, just as with white people. However, when my daughter started dating a black man in college, I was not so sure I wanted black grand children. However I did nothing to discourage the relationship...



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
Crystaline wrote:

Quote:
All in all, the book made me think that most people are unaware of their own bigotry until it hits them in some personal way. I had never had any interaction with black people until I came to America in 1949, so there was no prejudice instilled in me by my parents or culture in my childhood. I always thought of myself as not prejudiced, went to school with them, worked with them, and live in an integrated neighborhood. Some of those interactions were good, some were bad, just as with white people. However, when my daughter started dating a black man in college, I was not so sure I wanted black grand children. However I did nothing to discourage the relationship...


Well, I would certainly rather my daughter married a black person who was good and kind, than a white caucasian yobbo. The only regret I would feel would be that I would know that my grandchildren would be of mixed race and life would be more difficult for them.

I would also rather live next door to an ordinary Muslim family, Asian or Black or Christian, than some of the slobbish, ignorant white families one is inclined to encounter now and again.

I never, never was racist at all and believe there is good and bad in all races, creeds and colours. However, the current Islamic problem makes me feel very racist indeed. Videos on YouTube of beheadings notwithstanding. I absolutely abhore those extremists.....but it isn't because of the colour of their skin......or because of their stupid religion.....it is just their self-righteous barbarism. Puts me off any religion whatsoever.


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Mon Aug 31, 2015 3:36 am
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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
Penelope wrote:
Well, I would certainly rather my daughter married a black person who was good and kind, than a white caucasian yobbo. The only regret I would feel would be that I would know that my grandchildren would be of mixed race and life would be more difficult for them.


Well, I recently saw the film "Capote" about Truman Capote's conflicted relationship with the anti-hero of "In Cold Blood". So I wanted to make a try at reviving this interesting thread on that basis.

Penelope's comment serves as a decent jumping off point for such an effort.

The separation between communities, which race and religion seems to make so much more dramatic, seems to lead to the type of comparison Penelope made in the quote. While we, like Atticus, recognize the partial nature of the differences between "average" behavior of different communities, the gaps between them still lead to separate cultures.

Ideally, race would not be an issue. Yet it is, and like Atticus we often take a pragmatic approach to it that perpetuates the differences. A self-reinforcing process.

"Capote" looks at a different, but related, phenomenon. His effeminacy and homosexuality led to a dramatic alienation from his society (somewhat reminiscent of Harper Lee's - sorry, Scout's - in Go Set a Watchman.) (Harper Lee evidently grew up in the same town as Truman Capote, and they were friends).

He ruthlessly used his own alienation to get the killer in "In Cold Blood" to talk to him about what the murder scene was like and how the murder went. It is frankly acknowledged that they are two paths taken in response to alienation. It is suggested indirectly, but never directly, that the killer may have been a closet case himself. Capote's intuitive guess that something like this was going on may have led him to discover the "treasure trove" of the killer's diary.

For Truman Capote his alienation led to a more emotionally involved kind of writing (the birth of the "New Journalism" as the Wallace Shawn character states directly). His other major work, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" is a somewhat clumsy but ultimately engaging work, somewhat like "Go Set a Watchman", and also about alienation.

Alienation is the flip side of community, is it not? If there were no community spirit, then the alienated would not feel themselves to be different in some important way.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
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Harry Marks:
Alienation is the flip side of community, is it not? If there were no community spirit, then the alienated would not feel themselves to be different in some important way.


Community spirit can be both healthy and insidious, Tolerance in a segregated community of those elements that seek to further a segregationist goal, is to me at the heart of the issue in GSaW. This tolerance can be born of simple blood relation, membership in any form of community organization and indeed race. Segregation is certainly at the heart of what Penelope points out with her example of Islam and indeed groups like ISIS make many other forms of segregation seem almost mild by comparison, Not to diminish what we've been reading here with Harper Lee, To be clear, the treatment of blacks in the U.S historically was heinous, it should go without saying.
The modern structure of Islam is a perfect example of that internal tolerance I'm talking about, we are told not to blame the muslim religion for the insidiousness of the extremist crimes against humanity but there it is, internal segregation and the tolerance within the hole of the religion, which doesn't go unnoticed by an outside population of the planet, There is great internal struggles happening in that particular religion and there are many within it that are dying to rid the population of muslims of that very deadly extremist element, but there is also within the group as a whole that for reasons of family relation, membership in community organization and race, or just plain conformist ideals, or an "I'm not directly affected" mentality, that prevents necessary change in philosophy or psychology. Communal alienation is both victim and victimizer, One could make the claim that Atticus was alienated but buttressed against that alienation by his education and position in the very community in which he sought to change, Atticus had only his mind which wielding great strength could not muster the sledgehammer that was needed to force change, Atticus understood that in the case of Jim Crow and all that was entailed, Forced change was too dangerous a proposition.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
Quote:
Taylor:

Alienation is the flip side of community, is it not? If there were no community spirit, then the alienated would not feel themselves to be different in some important way.


Quote:
Quote:
Harry wrote:

The separation between communities, which race and religion seems to make so much more dramatic, seems to lead to the type of comparison Penelope made in the quote. While we, like Atticus, recognize the partial nature of the differences between "average" behavior of different communities, the gaps between them still lead to separate cultures.


Ideally, race would not be an issue. Yet it is, and like Atticus we often take a pragmatic approach to it that perpetuates the differences. A self-reinforcing process.



The 'reasons' for feeling alienated from ones fellow man make a difference. If it is caused through an exclusive religion, like the Jewish religion, in a way; and you feel as though you are 'the chosen' people....then one is alienating oneself so to speak - by choice. Although I am sure that if I had been born into a Jewish family....I would love that feeling of belonging and would adhere to it. If the reason for feeling alienated is because one is born homosexual, one cannot help that, and one would feel persecution was unjustified, as, of course, it is.

I don't think that extremist Muslims feel alienated. I think they want us all to believe their superstitious faith and live by their barbaric standards. They want to drag us back to the dark ages. However, I believe in the maxim 'Blossom where you're planted'. So since I was born and raised in the Anglican protestant faith.....I try to make it an inclusive faith, working from the inside....so to speak. Well, that's easy for me....as the Church of England is very wishy washy.....(that's why I love it). You can believe anything you damn well please and still be welcome at their services. I am glad that there are moderate Muslims within that faith, working away for tolerance.

Black people in a white persons' country - feel alienated and often persecuted, as they are, because a large number of our society don't want them to have equality of opportunity. They feel threatened by their different colour and way of life, or way of thinking.

I have read that when a society is suffering - like the recent worldwide recession and the cutbacks it caused in social welfare, then people look for some one to blame, a certain sector of society. Well, if your skin is a different colour you are easily identified.

Hitler made the jews in Germany wear a yellow star on their sleeve so that they were identifiable......If they had all had black skins that would not have been necessary I suppose.

Actually, the majority of people, when times are good, don't give a hoot what religion their neighbour follows, nor what their sexual preferences are, so long as it isn't something threatening and harmful to the rest of us. I think the media, certainly in this country, UK, stir up racial unrest by reporting rubbish, saying that we won't be allowed to call it christmas in case it offends the Muslim population. They say we can't call them Christmas trees.....and people get 'up in arms' whereas, actually, the average Muslim doesn't give two darn toots about our christmas lights and trees and traditions. We all incorporate the Hindu Festivel of Lights - Divali into our Bonfire, Guy Fawkes night, because they occur at the same time of year. I think the media do it to set us, the proletariat, against one another. Keeps us busy fighting about something immaterial, whilst the top powerful/rich echelons of society get on with paying themselves huge dividends from our banks and financial institutions.

Anyway......suffice it to say....I don't feel angry with coloured people, or Muslim people.......I feel angry at our millionaire bankers and financiers.


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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
Quote:
Penelope:
Quote:
Quote:

Taylor:

Alienation is the flip side of community, is it not? If there were no community spirit, then the alienated would not feel themselves to be different in some important way.





This quote appears attributed to Taylor but is actually a Harry Marks contribution.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
Taylor wrote:
Community spirit can be both healthy and insidious,

Yes, and there are different communities we may identify with - different options for identity, essentially. One of the things I love about modern, educated, tolerant society is that we can have different parts of our identity than others in our group (we can be American and Jewish, or liberal and Christian, or White and love jazz) and normally that is okay.

Taylor wrote:
There is great internal struggles happening in that particular religion and there are many within it that are dying to rid the population of muslims of that very deadly extremist element,

I wish the average American had even a clue how much anguish this causes in the Muslim communities of Europe and North America. It is not just their sense of vulnerability, making them want all provocation to stop. It is also that they have seen diversity in action, and despite the many failures, most of them are pleased with the results and wish that their former countrymen and women could see that it is functional.
Taylor wrote:
Communal alienation is both victim and victimizer,

Good observation.
Taylor wrote:
One could make the claim that Atticus was alienated but buttressed against that alienation by his education and position in the very community in which he sought to change, Atticus had only his mind which wielding great strength could not muster the sledgehammer that was needed to force change, Atticus understood that in the case of Jim Crow and all that was entailed, Forced change was too dangerous a proposition.

But forced change did work, to a great extent. Jim Crow was bad, but not as bad as slavery. The South of the 70s was still very racist, indeed the South of today is still racist, but enormously less than when the know-nothings ran things.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
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But forced change did work, to a great extent.


Ultimately yes force was used.

The force of the freedom riders to recognize the potential harm that may befall them, also the internal force necessary to make the march to Selma. There had to be a reenactment of the passion play.

Such internal bravery is true inspiration, and at the same time a crying shame.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
I'm so sorry for attributing that post wrongly. It's not that I'm not following the discussion.


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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
I just finished the book, I was waiting for it to get freed up at the library. It was entertaining enough to finish, but I don't really feel like anything happened. I didn't feel drawn into the characters, and I was quite frankly tired of Jean Louise being so entitled, so self centered, and so naive. It is one thing to not understand the depth of what is going on around you when you are a small girl and your father is defending a black man from a rape charge in the deep south, but when she is 26, has a bachelors degree in something, she should understand something of what is going on.

I am afraid I don't like her as strongly as I did like her in TKAM.


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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
froglipz wrote:
I was quite frankly tired of Jean Louise being so entitled, so self centered, and so naive. It is one thing to not understand the depth of what is going on around you when you are a small girl and your father is defending a black man from a rape charge in the deep south, but when she is 26, has a bachelors degree in something, she should understand something of what is going on.


I sort of get where you are coming from, and sort of not. I imagine by the time they are 26 most women these days have a fairly clear idea where they belong on the various spectra available. In the 1960s, pre-Ms. Magazine, I rather suspect that was not usually the case.

So if she had not sorted out her own dreams and aspirations, and probably she had not, it would be natural for the affection of the man she grew up friends with to both attract and repel her.

These days the U.S. is about 40% globalized and about 40% local folks, who live within a couple of hours drive of their parents. For those who aren't clearly in one category or the other, I suspect this woman's struggle with the good and bad of community would resonate.

froglipz wrote:
I am afraid I don't like her as strongly as I did like her in TKAM.


I would certainly agree with that. But then, I think the author went out of her way to give us a sense that Jean Louise, like her father and uncle, was not all honor and virtue. What she had, that they did not have, was the experience of living outside Jim Crow - of being able to experience the repugnance of feeling how it was not moral without that being a rejection of everything she held dear, of her own sense of self, as it were.

Ever talk to white South Africans? It'll open your eyes.



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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
You are right, I have spoken to white South Africans, and also some relics of the old south (they still existed in 1982 when I lived in Alabama) It was hard to reconcile what they were saying against my white northern background, but I couldn't go picking a fight every time someone said something repugnant either. I still found her to be too one dimensional. Does it truly not matter what she did with her life for 50 weeks of the year? Did they have no part in shaping her? I don't buy it.


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Post Re: Go Set a Watchman - Part VII (Chapters 18 and 19)
froglipz wrote:
It was hard to reconcile what they were saying against my white northern background, but I couldn't go picking a fight every time someone said something repugnant either.

Sounds sensible to me. I just found it shocking, and a little terrifying, to think of a community seeing itself so beleaguered, and yet I can see it happening again (to some people) with the hysteria over immigration and the terror over loss of white majority status in America. Just interacting with people in the grips of this fear, you begin to sense in your gut where the horror of communitarian violence comes from.

I learned a little of that when I moved overseas. In the U.S., there is one language. (I grew up 10 miles from the border with Mexico, so I understood that not everyone spoke English from an early age. But everyone who was "us" spoke English). In Europe you can drive an hour or two and find a different language. I have been told by Italians that there is no language "Italian", but 100 dialects. "Them" is just about everyone, and "us" is always, in some sense, beleaguered.

froglipz wrote:
I still found her to be too one dimensional. Does it truly not matter what she did with her life for 50 weeks of the year? Did they have no part in shaping her? I don't buy it.

Okay, fair enough. I think the book was underlining the difference between "home" and "the wide world" and Jean Louise ended up playing the constricted role of the woman caught between the two. She could no longer identify with her community, and race was the issue that brought that to the fore, but that left her at something of a loss.

A question: how might we portray that dilemma today? I recently watched the first season of the very weird "True Detective" starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, (both executive producers, also). It has a little of the flavor of that question - both are alienated, as the police often would be, but in very different ways. Harrelson plays the alienated insider, sticking to his community's expectations on the outside, but cheating because it doesn't really satisfy his cravings. McConaughey is the intellectual outsider, and they are on the track of a killer who fuses the two kinds of alienation.

Might there be something, possibly less dramatic, to illustrate the dilemmas of loss of community for, lets say, a woman juggling career and kids, looking for playdates for the kids, wishing the husband would be more in the picture? (Never saw "Weeds". Maybe that was an example?)



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