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On February 3, the world learned that Harper Lee’s second book would be published this year. This news must certainly have piqued the curiosity of noted law professor and ethicist Monroe Freedman, who had long been interested in the character of Atticus Finch, and had written extensively and controversially about him.

This month, Go Set a Watchman, set in the 1950s and actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird, was published to both great acclaim and considerable controversy. The “new” Atticus of Watchman is a Klan supporter, a racist, and anything but a hero to his daughter, now in her 20s. Of all those who examined Mockingbird and Atticus over the years, Freedman would have been the person least surprised by the “new Atticus.” For over 20 years, he’d argued strongly that Atticus was never the hero most of us saw. And presciently, he suggested that Harper Lee herself, even in Mockingbird, shared his view.

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