Study Guide

Go Set a Watchman Chapter 1

By Harper Lee

Chapter 1

  • A girl on a train watches the houses go by.
  • This girl is Jean Louise Finch. Hmm, that name sounds familiar.
  • She's returning home from New York to Maycomb, Alabama, to visit her 72-year-old father.
  • In her sleeping car, she gets trapped in the fold-away bed, between the mattress and the wall. What is this? A Southern fiction novel or an episode of Scooby-Doo?
  • The train porter frees her from the bed.
  • As they approach Maycomb Junction, the conductor says he will stop the train a quarter of a mile past the station, then say he almost forgot to drop her off.
  • This is what is known as a "joke" (1.16).
  • And that's exactly what he does. Exactly.
  • He stops the train "400 yard beyond" (1.20) the station, which is exactly a quarter of a mile.
  • Jean Louise looks back toward the station and sees a young man waiting for her.
  • "He jumped down and ran to meet her" (1.22).
  • He hugs her and kisses her, but she makes no remark as to if he's sweaty after running a quarter mile to meet her.
  • This man is Henry Clinton, Jean Louise's lifelong friend and potential husband.
  • He also works as an attorney with her father, Atticus.
  • Henry says Atticus's rheumatoid arthritis is bothering him today, so that's why Henry picked her up.
  • In the car, Henry insinuates that he would like to marry Jean Louise.
  • "I'll have an affair with you but I won't marry you" (1.67), she says.
  • She doesn't want to marry him because she's concerned she will cheat on him later in life.
  • Despite her rejection of his semi-proposal, the two are still flirty and friendly on the ride home.