Before writing the landmark novel To Kill a Mockingbird, famed author Harper Lee first penned Go Set a Watchman. The story, which focuses on the legendary character of Atticus Finch, portrays Finch as an unlikable racist. This character was later toned down and transformed into the heroic figure we know him as today in Mockingbird.
What many people do not know, however, is that Lee had toned Finch down from an even more unlikable character in an earlier draft of Watchman. For the first time ever, here is the first chapter of that earlier draft.
“I just downright hate kittens,” explained Atticus Finch to Scout as he parked his car in a handicapped space. “They’ve never contributed anything to society and they never will.” With Scotch on his breath and and an undeniably pungent odor coming from his body, Atticus furrowed his brow like he had done a million times before. He’s furrowed it at parties and furrowed it with children. And now he’s furrowing it again.
“Scout, remember when I spanked you the other day?” Scout nodded. How could she forget? “I did that for a reason. Do you remember what that reason was?” Scout nodded again. “You should never badmouth Hitler like that. He is a good man and has a heck of a mustache.” After looking at his own reflection in his rearview mirror and mouthing the words, “You handsome devil,” Atticus then jumped out of his car, noticing a small child licking an ice cream cone a few steps away. “Excuse me,” Atticus sternly said, clearing his throat. “Little boy, you should know that ice cream is full of sugar and fat. It has no place in a child’s hands!” Grabbing the 4 year-old’s cone, Atticus then tossed it into the air with glee, giggling as the icy treat fell to the ground. “Remember this forever, because no one respects fat people. Or women,” Atticus added.
Scout knew that Atticus could get surly and rambunctious sometimes- like when Atticus would see a garden of fresh sunflowers and yank them all out of the ground because “sunflowers are gay,” or when Atticus would call up friends on the telephone at 5am on a Saturday morning and wake them “just for the hell of it.” But today, Scout realized that Atticus was about to take his misanthropic view of society to a whole new level. “Scout,” Atticus said, slugging back the bottle of old Scotch he had stolen from a homeless man. “It’s time.”
With that, Atticus took an ax and began to remove all of the signs outlining the town’s parking restrictions, in hopes that someone, someday will blindly park and no doubt get showered with tickets.