Study Guide

Go Set a Watchman Rules and Order

By Harper Lee

Rules and Order

Chapter 2
Jean Louise "Scout" Finch

"I don't care what they think when I go around in slacks." (2.50)

Sure Jean Louise loved overalls as a child, but as an adult, we have to wonder why she wears pants. Because she likes them? Or because she still wants to rebel?

Chapter 14
Dr. "Uncle Jack" Finch

"The only thing I'm afraid of about this country is that its government will someday become so monstrous that the smallest person in it will be trampled underfoot, and then it wouldn't be worth living in." (14.134)

Clarification: Smallest white person. Atticus only cares about government rules and regulations in how they affect old white men like him.

Chapter 17
Atticus Finch

"As you say, Jean Louise, there's only one thing higher than the Court in this country, and that's the Constitution." (17.52)

The 10th amendment changed the Constitution. Rules change, but men like Atticus never do.

Jean Louise "Scout" Finch

"We have a system of checks and balances and things, but when it comes down to it we don't have much check on the Court, so who'll bell the cat?" (17.39)

This is Jean Louise talking. She believes they've set up something dangerous. In other words, the first domino in a chain of events that will end the legacy of the South.

I'm thoughtless, all right. Selfish. (3.24)

Jean Louise starts questioning her own motivations for rebelling against society's rules early on. Does she come to a conclusion? What do you think? Is she selfish? Or does society try to make her think she is, so that she will conform?

"Jean Louise, what do you mean—what do you and Henry Clinton mean—by going swimming last night naked?" (6.3)

The non-naked swim is one more way Jean Louise rebels against uptight Southern conventions. Even though she wasn't naked, we don't think she minds the rumor that she was. It makes her seem more rebellious.

"I'm gonna do what every Christian young white fresh Southern virgin does when she's indisposed. […] I'm takin' to my bed." (10.34, 10.36)

It seems that one of society's unwritten rules is for women to be helpless, so when Jean Louise finally decides to conform, she does it by collapsing out of the picture. Which is the whole point of these customs: to keep women quiet.

"Melbourne said once, that the only real duties of government were to prevent crime and preserve contracts, to which I will add one thing since I find myself reluctantly in the twentieth century: and to provide for the common defense." (14.135)

Another correction: the common defense of white people. This is Uncle Jack talking, a man "reluctantly" in the 20th century, but talking like he's still in the 19th. It seems like the only reluctance is letting go of white superiority.

"Well, in trying to satisfy one amendment, it looks like the rubbed out another one. The Tenth. It's only a small amendment, only one sentence long, but it seemed to be the one that meant the most, somehow." (17.35)

The Tenth Amendment gives states rights where the jurisdiction of the Federal Government stops. Why does this particular amendment mean so much to Atticus?

"Do you want your state government run by people who don't know how to run 'em?" (17.107)

Atticus seems to think that black people would have no idea how to work in government, bringing the country into disorder. It seems like the white people running the government, who have no idea what they're doing, do a good enough job on their own.