Go Set a Watchman

by: Harper Lee

Part II

Jean Louise strips off her overalls and gets ready to duck in to the fishpool to be “baptized.” Dill runs into the house and re-emerges in a bed sheet, pretending to be the Holy Ghost. Jem holds Jean Louise under the water. Suddenly, Miss Rachel appears and starts to whip Dill for ruining her bed sheets.

Jem and Jean Louise turn to return home, but when they do, Atticus is standing in the driveway next to Reverend Moorehead and the preacher’s wife. Too late, Jean Louise realizes she’s stark naked. At home, Calpurnia roughly scrubs Jean Louise, scolds her, and shoves her into a dress. Reverend Moorehead and his wife are having dinner at the Finch household. When Reverend Moorehead says grace, he asks the Lord to forgive Jem and Jean Louise because they are motherless children. Atticus goes red in the face and leaves the table abruptly. Jean Louise asks Calpurnia if he’s crying, and Calpurnia announces to the whole table that he’s laughing.

Jean Louise’s flashback ends, and she is back in the car driving with Henry. They arrive at Finch’s Landing. Her old family homestead is now a hunting club. Atticus’s grandfather had bought the house, and Atticus and Alexandra had been born there. Atticus and his siblings all moved into town, and the land got sold off piece by piece. After Jean Louise’s grandmother died, the house stood empty until men from Mobile bought it and turned it into the club.

Jean Louise and Henry race down the steep steps to the docks at the river. Jean Louise describes her conflicted feelings about living in New York versus living in Maycomb, and Henry tells her that at some point, she’ll have to choose. Henry says that he’s thinking about running for the Maycomb County legislature. Jean Louise and Henry kiss, but she doesn’t agree to marry him. Instead, she pushes him into the river, and he pulls her in with him.

When Jean Louise and Henry are driving back to Maycomb, a carload of black people drives by them at high speed. Henry says that black people have enough money to buy cars, but they don’t have driver’s licenses and insurance. Henry drives Jean Louise home, and she falls asleep reading about the Punic War.

ANALYSIS

Try as Maycomb County might to resist change, the South is going through transitions that are not without growing pains. When Jean Louise bumps her head as she’s getting into Henry’s car, she’s not just being a klutz. Bumping her head on the car symbolically means that she doesn’t fit into the Maycomb world anymore. She also doesn’t fit effortlessly into Henry’s life. Although she and Henry are compatible and enjoy spending time together, Henry does want a certain kind of wife and family to support his respectable, middle-class career, and Jean Louise has grown up to become an independent woman.