They Call Me Scout

Carey’s puppy, Scout, talks about TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, GO SET A WATCHMAN and contemplates the question posed by Randall Kennedy in the New York Times Sunday Book Review:

Would it have been better for (Harper Lee’s) earlier novel (GO SET A WATCHMAN) to have remained unpublished?

IMG_6852[2] (1)They call me Scout.

Like my namesake before me, I know how to get into plenty of trouble, but I have a big heart. My human mother, Carey Baldwin, named me after the protagonist in her favorite book, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. Last night at dinner, Carey’s mother-in-law complained that I am such a pretty girl, I should have a pretty name.

Why on earth would you name this puppy Scout? she asked Carey over a plateful of pasta.

I know the answer, and I’m proud of my name.

Scout is the person who taught Carey about justice, fairness and integrity. When Carey was ten years old, she read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, a tale told through the eyes of a young girl named Scout (Like me! Only I’m a puppy.) Carey was young too, and boy did Scout make an impression. The vivid images in this exciting story stuck with Carey throughout her lifetime: toys hidden in the trunk of an old tree, a Halloween costume designed to look like a ham, a pair of britches stuck in a fence, and a father who could put everything that was wrong with the world right again.

We live in a world with many injustices, but sometimes, unless we’re the ones getting the raw deal, we remain unaware. Maybe the injustice is happening far away from where we live or go to school, maybe it’s close by, but we’re afraid to look at it, or maybe we simply don’t understand what’s right in front of us. Like the black marble drinking fountain three feet away from the white marble drinking fountain in a certain fancy department store in Carey’s hometown. Only after reading TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD did ten-year-old Carey notice.killbird

Why are there two fountains? she asked her mother.

One is for whites and one is for colored people. That’s illegal now, but the fountains are still there, her mother answered. Sure enough, Carey could see the faded paint outlining a rectangular space on the wall that had once been occupied by a sign prohibiting blacks from drinking from the white fountain.

Carey grew up in a time and place where segregation in school, housing, and life was outlawed…yet still largely practiced. She didn’t know very many people who were different from herself, so she didn’t “see” a lot of things. Scout and Harper Lee taught her to open her eyes.

Randall Kennedy says:

“In America in 1960, the story of a decent white Southerner who defends an innocent black man charged with raping a white woman had the appeal of a fairy tale and the makings of a popular movie. Perhaps even more promising, though, was the novel Lee first envisioned (GO SET A WATCHMAN), the story of Jean Louise’s (Scout’s) adult conflicts between love and fairness, decency and loyalty. Fully realized, that novel might have become a modern masterpiece.”

Scout answers:

“I think there’s a place for both books. I don’t believe we lost out because Harper Lee’s editor changed the time and setting of GO SET A WATCHMAN to that of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, or that Lee’s first attempt at the story should have remained unpublished. The truth is, Harper Lee’s vision and desire for fairness in the world comes through in both books. One is more polished, one has a hero, the other a flawed man and a conflicted daughter.

51G1qWt5-qL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Both are a window into the heart and mind of Harper Lee.

We need both books. We need all the windows we can get, because there’s simply not enough light in the world.”

Here’s a link to Kennedy’s full review of GO SET A WATCHMAN in the New York Times.

Have you read a book that has profoundly influenced your life?

P.S. The opinions expressed here are strictly my own.






About Carey Baldwin

Carey Baldwin is a mild-mannered doctor by day and an award winning author of edgy suspense by night.

Posted on October 27, 2015, in book recommendations, Carey Baldwin, keepers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. ACK. She is so cute I’m completely distracted!!

    Scout, my opinion is that second book (prequel) should never have been published. It’s like finding out Holden Caulfield owns a metropolis of strip joints.

    • Thanks Sarah! LOL. What a comparison! No wonder you’re a writer. When I read GO SET A WATCHMAN I felt like I’d suddenly had the chance to talk to an old friend (Scout) who had disappeared from the face of the earth and now had returned out of the blue. I loved being able to hear Scout’s voice again. I thought the book showed the pervasiveness of racism and how it was woven into the fabric of the times, how even good people had not escaped its malevolent influence, how it poisoned our most cherished institutions and relationships. I’m with Scout on this one- I’m glad it was published. As attached to Atticus, the knight in shining armor, as I am, I was quite interested to see that Lee’s initial vision of him had been so different–and unheroic.

  2. Scout is adorable and smart!

  3. Wonderful post, Carey. So many books have shaped me, I can’t think of just one.

  4. Scout it so cute!!! I haven’t read the Watchman book yet, but one of the books that shaped me was Wuthering Heights. I was way too young to read it because when I finished it I felt years older. It’s still one of my all-time favorite books. 🙂

    • Thanks Sharon! How funny about Wuthering Heights aging you! I think I felt that way after Jane Eyre. Lena, have you read Jane Eyre yet? Do I need to send it to you for Christmas?

  5. Scout is so adorable, Carey! This is a timely post because my book club just selected to read this book. I overheard several members say they wouldn’t be reading it, so I’ll be curious to hear their reasons. Should make for a lively discussion! For now I agree. We need all the windows we can get. 🙂

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