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Author Topic: Tell-All Title: Go Set a Watchman  (Read 451 times)

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August 16, 2015, 05:19:43 PM


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Tell-All Title: Go Set a Watchman

Harper Lee chose to title her first draft Go Set A Watchman - eventually this draft was melded into To kill  A Mockingbird. When the original manuscript was found, the title was kept and the book was published. The title comes from a biblical reference in the Old Testament, Isaiah 21:6 " For thus the Lord said unto me, Go, Set a watchman, Let him declare what he seeth." 

Throughout the book there are references to being a watchman - one who observes closely; a person who keeps a vigil; a person who protects. But this verse also admonishes the watchman to tell what he sees. So the watchman must make sure all know what he has observed, and is warned of his observations.

The theme of being a watchman that not only observes but tells of what he has observed is emphasized. We first come across this verse in Part III Chapter 7 when the Reverend Stone uses the above verse as the text for his sermon. Then in Part V at the end of Chapter 13, Jean Louise  discovers she is 'blind' and she needs to have Rev. Stone 'set her a watchman' to lead her around and tell her what is going on around her; to interpret what people are really saying; to delineate why justice can be divided but the same. In Part IV, Chapter 16 Henry tell Jean Louise that Atticus at one point had joined the Klan "To find out exactly what men in town were behind the masks." Then at the end of Part VI (chapter 17) Atticus attempts to convince Jean Louise that the Citizen Council is a method of 'defense.'

Here are some questions to get us started in discussing the title and what it means to the story.

1. Who do you think is The Watchman in this book? Could there be more than one?

2. Why is it important the the watchman not only observes, but reports his observations?

3. Why does Jean Louise feel she needs a watchman to lead her around and interpret the world she has always known?

4. From what is described in the book, do you feel the role of the Citizen's Council was that of a 'Watchman'?

I'm sure you might have some other observations or questions you would like to add about the title. Feel free to bring them up.