Study Guide

Go Set a Watchman Chapter 18

By Harper Lee

Chapter 18

  • This chapter begins Part VII.
  • Jean Louise is upset that her father didn't even fight her fairly.
  • She returns home to pack. Even though she scheduled ten more days with her family, she wants to leave.
  • Aunt Alexandra tries to stop her, but Jean Louise yells at her too.
  • She calls her "pompous" and "narrow-minded" (18.18).
  • Aunt Alexandra cries, and Jean Louise apologizes. "I'm not much of a lady, Aunty, but you are" (18.22).
  • Strangely, Alexandra turns this around to a compliment for Jean Louise, telling her, "You're mistaken, Jean Louise, if you think you're no lady" (18.23).
  • Wow. We didn't saw that coming.
  • As Jean Louise is packing the car, Dr. Finch, her uncle, arrives to stop her from leaving.
  • Nothing can stop Jean Louise, though. She tells her uncle she's sick of her whole family, and tells him to leave her alone.
  • So...he hits her.
  • He backhands her so hard, she almost passes out. And she spits blood.
  • What.
  • When the dizziness goes away, Jean Louise lets her uncle lead her inside.
  • After giving her some whiskey for the pain, he tells her that Atticus called him and told everything.
  • He tries to explain Atticus's behavior.
  • He says "every man's watchman is his conscience" (18.89) and that it was important for her to realize that her watchman is her own—not her father's.
  • And it's painful to separate the two.
  • Then he tells her she is very much like her father...except she's "a bigot and he's not" (18.107).
  • Jean Louise says, "I beg your pardon?" (18.108), which is 1950s slang for "WTF?!"
  • He explains that she's a bigot because she refuses to listen and give in to Atticus's racist opinions.
  • Uhhh…
  • They argue a bit, and Jean Louise calls both Uncle Jack and Atticus crazy.
  • He tells Jean Louise that she's "color blind" (18.137), unable to see race. (He thinks that's a bad thing.)
  • Don't worry, Uncle Jack. Jean Louise assures him she won't "run out and marry a N**** or something" (18.138).
  • He tells her that interracial marriage isn't something they should be scared of.
  • Not because it isn't scary, but because it'll never actually happen, so they shouldn't fear.
  • (Aren't you glad you don't live in the 1950s, btw?)
  • Uncle Jack finally suggests that Jean Louise move back to Maycomb. Maycomb needs her.
  • Um, to argue with everyone? We're not sure what he's getting at.
  • She says she can't live in a pace that doesn't agree with her.
  • He says, "the time your friends need you is when they're wrong, Jean Louise" (18.169).
  • Erm—is he on her side or not?
  • They part ways, but not before Uncle Jack, apropos of nothing, reveals he was in love with Jean Louise's mother.
  • Um, thanks for sharing?

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