To Kill a Mockingbird. The story that pretty much everyone has read (because of required reading) in school. Atticus Finch, one of the protagonists of the book fought for a good cause. He was guiding voice to Scout, the moral, wise stoic man, and the token civil-rights activist of the book....But with the release of Harper Lee’s new book Go Set a Watchmen, we discover that he is actually a racist.
In the new book, his character believes that African Americans are mentally childlike and unable to lead themselves or society. A whole new dark side to this character.
Our childhood hero has pretty much been destroyed: this book shows what that side is like. NPR reviewer Maureen Corrigan compared the change to "turning Ahab into a whale-lover.” Essentially your favorite character turns evil. (in a bad way, not the antihero way)
But what it gives us is a new perspective on the idea of racism.
Washington Post writer Alyssa Rosenberg had some good thoughts on the matter:
"Go Set a Watchman" is part of the process of divesting ourselves of the idea that, as Ta-Nehisi Coates put it, "we believe racism to be the property of the uniquely villainous and morally deformed, the ideology of trolls, gorgons and orcs." If racism can belong to Atticus Finch — and if it became his property through the same processes that made him a hero — it can belong to anyone.
The lesson here: Good people can believe bad things, and people can do good things for bad reasons. Racism can lurk in people that are seemly acting against it.