Study Guide

Go Set a Watchman Color Blindness

By Harper Lee

Color Blindness


At the end of Chapter 10, Jean Louise realizes something pretty crazy-symbolic:

All her life she had been with a visual defect which had gone unnoticed and neglected by herself and by those closet to her: she was born color blind. (10.39)

No, that doesn't mean that she has a mismatched wardrobe. Although maybe it does explain why she only seems to wear black and white clothing. She's talking about color blindness in regards to race, as if she lives in racial harmony, ebony and ivory—when what she's really doing is ignoring it.

Just as we have to ask if Stevie Wonder is really blind, we have to ask if Jean Louise Finch is really color blind.

Regarding Stevie, only he knows. But regarding Jean Louise, the answer is flat-out no. She is not color blind in the least, and to suggest she is...pretty offensive and hypocritical. Her visit to Calpurnia is entirely about the difference between white people and black people, from the way the black people watch her ("silent, respectful" [12.149]) to the way her house has "the musky sweet smell of clean N****" (12.154).

If she were color blind, would she comment on the difference?

Jean Louise is blind, yes, but she's blind to herself. This issue might the only thing we agree with Uncle Jack on: he tells her "You've never opened her eyes" (14.75). She needs to look within herself, and come to the truth, whatever it may be. In the end, does she look inside herself? Does she explore deep within, or does she only open the door a crack before turning away?