Like the rest of “To Kill A Mockingbird” fans around the world, I’ve been excitedly waiting for the release of “Go Set A Watchman”. I was blessed enough to get a copy as a gift on the first day. So, you can expect that I sunk my teeth into it as soon as I could. It took me two days to read a 278-page book. I had to put it down for half a day. It took me a while to chew on Chapter 8.
I worshipped Atticus Finch. That’s my failing. Much like Scout, I looked up to Atticus as close to infallibility as any man can get, second only, possibly, to Christ. I can forgive the poor editing, the inaccuracies in reference to “To Kill A Mockingbird” since “Go Set A Watchman” was written before it, but it just wrenched my heart right out when it painted Atticus like a man.
For me, he’s always been more than that. His moral compass always pointed North. He always knew right from wrong. Never a doubt in his mind about how to treat a person, regardless of the color of their skin. Yet there he was helping Calpurnia’s grandson as a strategy to block black lawyers from getting to him first. Calpurnia. The very same Calpurnia who raised his children as her own. The same Calpurnia to whom he entrusted his entire household no matter what his insufferable sister Alexandra said.
On an intellectual level, I understand where Atticus is coming from. You cannot expect babies, spiritual or intellectual, to make sensible adult decisions. But oppression is oppression. No matter the motive.
It takes some getting used to to see the flawed man behind the perfect father, principled lawyer, loyal friend. Atticus, after all, is a man. No more, no less.