Not only is Mabel Pines a confident female character, but she’s a confident female character whose arc is never about tearing her down for daring to love herself. So many times, confident women only get stories about how they’re full of themselves and need to be taken down a notch (also, so many times, confidence is only written to co-exist with cruelty–the message is that you can only love yourself if you hate everyone else).
Every time there’s a storyline about Mabel’s insecurity, she ends up validated. Pacifica makes fun of her for being too silly? Her silliness is the only way they solve the mystery. Unicorn tells her she isn’t good enough? It’s because the unicorn is a lying jerk! She feels like she isn’t smart enough to play DD&MD? Her enthusiasm and creativity (plus Stan’s rule-breaking) totally save the day! She gets tricked into starting Weirdmageddon because she feels alone and afraid and not one single character blames her for it and once Dipper has helped her face her problems and convinced her she won’t be alone, she bursts out of the bubble certain that she and her friends can save the world! And they do! It comes down to the Stans in the end, but only because Mabel and Dipper got everyone there, led them and inspired them and reminded Stan and Ford what it’s like to work together.
Mabel’s coming-of-age arc is so well-constructed and nuanced and compassionate and it builds her up instead of tearing her down. It matters. She matters.
In case anyone was planning to ask me about it (which is unlikely, as I don’t think I’ve ever spoken about my love for To Kill a Mockingbird on here before, but just in case), I am not going to be reading Go Set a Watchman.
This isn’t because I can’t stand the thought of my beloved story being “ruined forever” or whatever sensationalist things people are saying about the new novel. I’m not going to read it because I am absolutely sure that the publishers exploited Harper Lee to put this book out.
Harper Lee was very clear, for decades, that she had no interest in publishing another novel. She could have polished and published Go Set a Watchman after it was apparent that To Kill a Mockingbird was a success and a classic, but she didn’t. She hid the manuscript away in a safety deposit box instead. Her publishers were begging her to write another novel ever since the success of To Kill a Mockingbird, and I highly doubt it’s a coincidence that Go Set a Watchman was announced just months after Alice Lee, Harper’s sister and lawyer, died. It is possible that Harper Lee just happened to change her mind at age 89, right after her sister’s death, and having previously suffered a stroke? Sure, but I doubt it. I know there was an investigation into the possibility of coercion that turned up nothing, but I flat out don’t trust those results. And above all, I can’t accept that Harper Lee, so meticulous in revising and editing To Kill a Mockingbird, would choose to release a completely unedited, unpolished first draft of the same work. Especially given that she famously hated the publicity her first novel gave her. Agreeing to let the publishers put out a second novel after her death? That I could maybe see. While she’s alive? No.
Finally, even if the publication of this novel weren’t sketchy as hell, I just don’t have any interest. Why would I want to read the unpolished, very different first draft of a story I enjoy as it is? This is being called To Kill a Mockingbird’s sequel, but it really isn’t. It’s more like an alternate universe with worse writing. For one thing, the outcome of a very important plot point in To Kill a Mockingbird has the opposite outcome in Go Set a Watchman, and for another, Atticus Finch is a completely different character.
And I don’t say that because I can’t accept Atticus as anything other than flawless white Jesus. All people have internalized prejudices. All people have flaws. But the Atticus who responds to being asked why he’s defending a black man with “I do my best to love everyone equally” is just not the same person as the Atticus who has such abhorrent views on black people that his own daughter compares him to Hitler. Characters change between drafts. Sometimes they become entirely different people, and that’s the case here.
Also, I’m just not interested in reading a story about the Finches that isn’t narrated by Scout.