Study Guide

Go Set a Watchman Gender

By Harper Lee


African Americans weren't the only group fighting for their rights in the 1950s.

The sexual revolution and a new feminist movement are on the horizon in Go Set A Watchman. If Harper Lee had kept writing Jean Louise's adventures, we wouldn't be surprised to see Jean Louise team up with Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem and set fire to some undergarments.

Questions About Gender

  1. Scout was a tomboy in To Kill a Mockingbird. How has she changed since?
  2. What concessions to femininity does Jean Louise make throughout Go Set a Watchman?
  3. Are men more respected at this time period? Consider how both Jem and Atticus are elevated to heroic standards. Is Atticus a revered authority figure because he is male? In a gender reversal, would Atticus be as respected as a female (ignoring the fact that, historically, a single female mother lawyer would not be realistic)?
  4. What if Henry and Jean Louise's genders were reversed? With Henry as an entitled upper-middle class boy and Jean Louise a lower class, hard-working girl? How would their courtship be different?

Chew on This

To Jean Louise, feminism (even though she doesn't call it that) is personally more important to her than racial equality, because it actually affects her.

Living in a patriarchal society, Jean Louise holds certain males in her life—her father, her brother, her lover—up to unrealistic standards.