Study Guide

Go Set a Watchman Chapter 12

By Harper Lee

Chapter 12

  • That flashback of Chapter 11 might have been a dream. She's awake now, in her twenty-six-year-old body.
  • Jean Louise grabs some cigarettes and goes outside to smoke a few and listen to the songs of mockingbirds. Um, secondhand smoke might kill those mockingbirds.
  • Even though it's five in the morning, she decides to mow the yard.
  • Aunt Alexandra comes outside and yells at her for waking the whole neighborhood.
  • Jean Louise goes inside and sits down for breakfast, where Atticus is eating with "grotesque eating equipment" (12.26)—his utensils fitted in wooden spools, so his arthritic hands can grab them.
  • She's short with Atticus, not really talking to him out of anger; but when he spills milk on himself, she doesn't cry over it. She helps clean him up.
  • She looks at her face and at his white stubble and wonders where her hair will begin to turn gray. Her eyebrows? Her hairline? (Her nose hairs?!)
  • A phone call interrupts this tense breakfast: Zeebo's boy ran over a drunk man.
  • Because Zeebo is Calpurnia's grandson, making his boy her great-grandson, Atticus agrees to be his lawyer… if only to stop the NAACP from stepping in.
  • Jean Louise leaves the room, unable to comprehend that Atticus isn't doing this out of the goodness of his heart, but to keep the NAACP out of Alabama.
  • Aunt Alexandra sends Jean Louise with the car to the grocery store.
  • Atticus asks her to drive him to work when she returns.
  • But when he calls her Scout, she's furious. She doesn't say anything, but she doesn't ever want him to use that nickname again.
  • Jean Louise goes grocery shopping, and by grocery shopping, we mean she hands her list to the shop owner and he goes to get everything for it. When she realizes she forgot her money, he agrees to bill Atticus.
  • "This is one good thing about life that never changes" (12.108), she thinks. Oh, honey, wait until you see self-checkouts in fifty years.
  • Mr. Fred, the store owner, tells Jean Louise what a special place Maycomb is.
  • But she's not so sure it's special, and she's not so sure it's even her home.
  • She hits her head on the car again when she gets in. Ouch.
  • Jean Louise drops off the groceries, takes Atticus to town, and then takes a secret drive to visit Calpurnia.
  • All the N****es stand outside on the porch watching her, "silent, respectful" (12.149).
  • They welcome her inside the house to visit Calpurnia.
  • Jean Louise tells her Atticus will help his grandson, but she struggles to get the words out. She's not so sure anymore.
  • Calpurnia says she know he will. "He always do right" (12.181).
  • Jean Louise is furious that Calpurnia is talking to her this way, not using proper English.
  • "For God's sake talk to me right" (12.194), she demands.
  • Calpurnia just stops talking all together, so Jean Louise gets up to leave. But before she goes, she asks Cal if she hated her family.
  • Calpurnia shakes her head no.

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