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Q.  I really loved To Kill a Mockingbird, and Atticus Finch was my hero.  Do I have to change all that in view of the publication of Go Set a Watchman?

A.  Only if you want to.

If you don’t want to, there are several good reasons why you shouldn’t have to.

Reason One:  Go Set a Watchman is not a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird just because it takes place in a later decade.  It was written before To Kill a Mockingbird, but wasn’t published until just now.  If either version of Atticus Finch is to be regarded as the “real” one, the title should go to To Kill a Mockingbird Atticus (“Atticus Prime”, as the Star Trek fans would put it) rather than Go Set a Watchman Atticus (or “Reboot!Atticus”, to continue the Trek analogy), by right of prior publication.

Reason Two: Given that To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, by virtue of their peculiar  history, do not actually stand in a text-and-sequel, or even a text-and-prequel, relationship, but are separate books, then Atticus Prime and Reboot!Atticus can safely be regarded as distinct and separate characters who just happen to share a name and place of residence.  (Again, science fiction readers already have a model to hand for dealing with things like this: two separate universes, parallel but different in some key respects.  Not quite Spock-with-a-Beard territory, but similar.)

Reason Three:  Go Set a Watchman, until recently, was never meant to be published at all.  It was what is sometimes referred to as a “trunk novel” — that is, an early work that the writer, usually for good and sufficient reasons, has put away in a trunk (or a desk drawer, or a computer file in an increasingly-obsolete format), never to see the light of day.

Sometimes, however, a trunk novel does eventually get published.  A writer may achieve sufficient popularity that it becomes a good bet that readers will buy even his or her old grocery lists, at which point somebody — maybe the author, but often the author’s literary heirs or executors — will decide to haul that manuscript out of obscurity and turn it loose on an unsuspecting public.

The reason for this, not surprisingly, is usually money.*  Either the author needs it, or the heirs-or-executors want it, or both. If the author is dead, and the heirs-or-executors are nowhere in evidence, then the coin involved is likely to be scholarly reputation.

So, no.  You don’t have to throw out your copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and consign Atticus Finch to the dustheap of abandoned role models unless you, personally, want to do that thing.  Which is your decision to make, not mine, and if I have any position at all on this, it’s that every person has a right to their own reaction to a work of art.

*Because writers have this annoying tendency to starve if they can’t buy groceries.  Go figure.