Study Guide

Go Set a Watchman Change

By Harper Lee


Chapter 4
Jean Louise "Scout" Finch

"Conservative resistance to change, that's all," said Jean Louise behind a mouthful of fried shrimp. (4.9)

Jean Louise doesn't like change. In what ways is Jean Louise conservative? Socially? Politically? Sexually? In terms of her views on race? How about her views on class?

Chapter 5

Revival time was a time of war: war on sin, Coca-Cola, picture shows, hunting on Sunday; war on the increasing tendency of young women to paint themselves and smoke in public; war on drinking whiskey. (5.109)

This line foreshadows the Doxology scene later in the book. Part of the resistance to change lies in religion.

Jean Louise "Scout" Finch

"I just don't like my world disturbed without some warning." (5.222)

It seems that a big part of Jean Louise's issue with discovering Atticus's racism is that it came without warning. Maybe if he sent her a postcard first, of himself in a KKK hood or something, she wouldn't have been as upset about it.

Chapter 7

"I thought I'd try it once, just to make sure of what I'd already guessed. Congregation'll never learn it. Besides, I like the old ones." (7.48)

This is Herbert Jemson, the musical director. Unlike many people in Maycomb, he at least tried something new. But it didn't work, so he immediately goes back to his old ways. Considering the conclusion of the book, do you think Jean Louise will try to enact change, or will she cave to tradition?

Dr. "Uncle Jack" Finch

"Apparently," [Dr. Finch] said, "apparently our brethren in the Northland are not content merely with the Supreme Court's activities. They are now trying to change our hymns on us." (7.29)

This anecdote in the Methodist church serves to illustrate the general resistance to change in the South… especially when change messes with religion.

Chapter 8

With the same suddenness that a barbarous boy yanks the larva of an ant lion from its hole to leave it struggling in the sun, Jean Louise was snatched from her quiet realm and left alone to protect her sensitive epidermis as best she could, on a humid Sunday afternoon at precisely 2:28 p.m. (8.1)

This wordy paragraph at the beginning of Chapter 8, almost smack dab in the middle of the book, represents the turning point in our plot, and it foreshadows the upcoming trauma Jean Louise will face at the hands of change.

Chapter 12

This is one good thing about life that never changes, she thought. As long as he lived here, as long as she returned, Mr. Fred would be here with his… simple welcome. (12.108)

Jean Louise's tenacious clinging to the past seems to be rooted in nostalgia, like in this case with the grocery store. At what point does a person need to let go of nostalgia and start looking toward the future?

She threw off the spread, put her feet to the floor, and sat gazing at her long legs, startled to find them twenty-six years old. (12.1)

Jean Louise spends a lot of time in flashbacks, and sometimes she's startled that she has changed from how she was a child. But has she? Other than physically, how is Jean Louise different?

Chapter 14
Dr. "Uncle Jack" Finch

"The South's in its last agonizing birth pain. It's bringing forth something new and I'm not sure I like it, but I won't be here to see it. You will. Men like me and my brother are obsolete and we've got to go, but it's a pity we'll carry with us the meaningful things of this society—there were some good things in it." (14.142)

Uncle Jack is lamenting the end of pre-Civil Rights South. What are the "meaningful things" that are being lost?

Chapter 16

"A long time ago the Klan was respectable, like the Masons." (16.45)

Um, yeah, and a long time ago the swastika had a spiritual meaning. There comes a point where it can't be reclaimed, no matter how much some people try.