Study Guide

Go Set a Watchman Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By Harper Lee

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation

It's difficult to peg this experimental draft into one of the Seven Basic Plots. It reads like a Voyage Story, a story of Rebirth, a little bit of a Tragedy, and maybe even a Monster story (when Atticus appears pretty monstrous).

But we're going with Voyage and Return, except, in this case, the Voyage has already happened. Jean Louise has voyaged to New York City, and here, the prodigal daughter returns. It's like a Voyage and Return in reverse… because her hometown begins to look like a different place.

Initial Fascination

Jean Louise looks at Maycomb through new eyes. She "wonder[s] why she had never thought her country beautiful" (1.12). She is excited to be home again, to see her father, to see Henry, to even see her imposing Aunt Alexandra. She eats good food and visits old stomping grounds. Maycomb is a paradise.

Frustration

But Jean Louise realizes that not all is what it seems. This isn't the Maycomb of her childhood, i.e., the Maycomb of To Kill a Mockingbird. This is a Maycomb that is evolving in some ways but not in others. And Jean Louise starts to wonder why some things stay the same—and if some things would be better off not changing.

Nightmare

The nightmare occurs when Jean Louise's father, Atticus, turns out to have beliefs that frighten her—he's a racist. If this were sci-fi, it would be invasion of the body snatchers, as if someone else were inhabiting Atticus's skin. She starts to see the hate in the hearts of many people in her once-beloved hometown. She has to decide whether to flee or to fight.

Thrilling Escape and Return

We're not sure what happens at the end of the book because it stops before Jean Louise can escape and get on the train. She is almost literally dragged back to Maycomb by her Uncle Jack who implores her to stay.

Does she escape Maycomb and return to New York? Does she escape, only to later return to Maycomb anyway? Unless a mysterious third manuscript is found—2 Kill 2 Mockingbirds—we may never know.

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