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Watchman

A watchman is someone who serves as a moral compass, even in the face of temptation and malevolence, and throughout the novel, Jean Louise must learn how to become her own watchman rather than relying on others to guide her. Go Set a Watchman, the phrase in the novel’s title, comes from Isaiah 21:6, which reads, “For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” Throughout her life, Jean Louise has perceived Atticus as both her family’s personal watchman and the watchman for the whole town of Maycomb. When Jean Louise sees her father as a hypocrite and realizes how pervasive bigotry has become in Maycomb, she experiences profound disillusionment, and her faith in how she has always perceived the world is shaken. How can Jean Louise trust in anything if she cannot trust that her father will always be the watchman?

Jean Louise discovers over the course of the novel that she must become her own watchman, and she must set her own moral conscience. No one can guide her ethically other than herself. In the beginning of the novel, the “watchman” of the title seems to be Atticus, but as the novel progresses, Jean Louise herself becomes a watchman. As she undergoes the pain of betrayal and discovers her beliefs in the process, Jean Louise comes to learn that the people of Maycomb need her to help provide a different perspective. Just as Jean Louise needed Atticus to serve as her watchman when she was a child, Jean Louise provides a strong voice of integrity that many of Maycomb’s citizens might be able to hear and understand. Jean Louise can help people articulate what they do not yet know they truly believe.

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