Study Guide

Go Set a Watchman Genre

By Harper Lee

Genre

Coming-of-Age

Judgment Day

If you think To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story (we did), this book might change your perspective.

With regard to this genre, To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman are like Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Sure, the first one is great—but the second one punches you in the face…making you wonder what a coming-of-age story really is.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout doesn't really grow up. She doesn't really change. She's a kid at the beginning, and she's a slightly older kid at the end. Her father is still a hero. Her brother is still amazing (Jem has a much more dynamic growth story than Scout). And black people are still over there, in their place, where everyone thinks they belong.

Go Set a Watchman tears Scout's world to the ground. Not only does she distance herself from her childhood nickname, but she also finds out something shocking about her father, forcing her to re-examine her relationship to him. The climax of the book involves Jean Louise examining her own beliefs as an entity separate from her father's. She has to become an independent young woman.

Shmoopers, Go Set a Watchman is the comingest-of-age of all coming-of-age novels. Jean Louise is shaken to her core. And so are millions of readers… who might just come of age a little themselves while reading, as their childhood ideals of Mockingbird change.