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The protagonist of the story. Jean Louise, a twenty-six-year-old woman, lives in New York City, but she has returned home to Maycomb for her annual two-week visit. Although Jean Louise no longer lives in Maycomb, she is still deeply connected to the town emotionally, and during her visit, she has many nostalgic flashbacks to her youth. Jean Louise has a very strong moral streak. Throughout her life, she has worshipped and idolized her father, Atticus, as the paragon of ethics. As a child, Jean Louise had been a tomboy, and she had an awkward transition into adolescence and womanhood. As an adult, she feels out of place among the ladies of Maycomb. Jean Louise and Henry Clinton, her brother’s childhood best friend, have become a couple, and every time Jean Louise returns to town, Henry wants to marry her.
Read an in-depth analysis of Jean Louise Finch
Jean Louise’s father and a prominent lawyer in Maycomb. Atticus is a widower who is universally respected for his integrity and sense of justice. He has developed arthritis, which hinders him physically, though his mind is still sharp. After Jem died, Atticus hired Henry Clinton to be his junior partner at the law firm. Jean Louise always held up Atticus as the pinnacle of virtue. When Jean Louise sees Atticus at a meeting of the Maycomb County Citizen’s Council, a racist organization, her entire world is thrown off-kilter, since if Atticus isn’t a moral compass, she doesn’t know what she can trust. But Atticus always abides by his principle that the law comes first and foremost.
Read an in-depth analysis of Atticus Finch
Jean Louise’s aunt and Atticus’s sister. A commanding, domineering presence, Alexandra has a generous heart and kind spirit underneath her imperious, bossy exterior. She is always dressed in a full corset, as though constantly in a suit of armor. Alexandra and Jean Louise bicker all the time, and they know exactly how to get on each other’s nerves. Alexandra wants Jean Louise to behave more like a genteel Southern lady, which makes Jean Louise act even more rebelliously than she might have originally been inclined to be. Although Alexandra comes across as brittle and brash, she has the family’s best interest at heart.
Jean Louise’s uncle and Atticus’s brother. Jack is a retired medical doctor who lives alone in town and spends his days immersed in literature rather than getting involved in town actions and town politics. Jack is extremely bright and quick, and Jean Louise enjoys verbally sparring with him. Jack serves as a secondary father figure to Jean Louise, and she turns to him when she feels that Atticus is a hypocrite. Even though Jack tends to avoid conflict and retreat into his own home, he eventually slaps Jean Louise to reprimand her for her anger and to try and make her understand Atticus’s behavior.
Jean Louise’s older brother. Jem died of a heart condition in his early twenties. Jem’s death deeply shook the Finch family. Jean Louise looked up to Jem, and throughout her childhood, Jem was her protector and role model. Since he died so young, her image of him and his role in her life has never been tarnished. Even though he never appears in Go Set a Watchman, Jean Louise has frequent flashbacks to her childhood in which Jem always plays a central part. Henry, Jem’s childhood best friend, has taken over the role of a son to Atticus, though Henry’s feelings towards Jean Louise are far more than brotherly. Calpurnia deeply loved Jem as well, and although she no longer works for the Finches, she still misses him. After Jem’s death, Alexandra tried to convince Jean Louise that Atticus needed her to move back to Maycomb, but Jean Louise knows that Atticus wants her to make her own independent choices, though this decision does make Jean Louise feel guilty sometimes.
Jean Louise’s suitor and Atticus’s law partner. Henry was Jem’s best friend when they were growing up, and now, he has been courting Jean Louise for several years. Henry had always been close with the Finches, and when Jem died, he became like another son to Atticus. Henry wants to marry Jean Louise, which he tells her repeatedly throughout her visit to Maycomb, but even though she flirts with him, she always has an excuse or rebuff. Henry desperately wants to achieve the same sort of social status that the Finches have in town. He doesn’t come from quite as esteemed a family, so he must continually prove his own worth. Alexandra doesn’t think that Henry is of the same social order as the Finches, so she discourages Jean Louise from marrying him. While Alexandra’s reaction does spur Jean Louise to flirt more with Henry, deep down, Jean Louise has the same feeling about their relationship. Although they may like each other and get along, at the end of the day, it will never quite work.
The black cook who worked for the Finches when Jean Louise and Jem were growing up. Calpurnia was a mother figure for Jean Louise and Jem. Atticus was the one who raise them morally and instilled ethical values in his children, but Calpurnia provided the day-to-day lessons and discipline. When Jean Louise transitioned from childhood to womanhood, Calpurnia helped explain the ways of the world to her. Calpurnia played an essential role in Jean Louise’s childhood, but now, Calpurnia doesn’t work for the Finches anymore, and she has distanced herself from their family.
Calpurnia’s son. Zeebo’s son is the one who gets involved in a drunk driving incident and kills a white pedestrian. Atticus has helped Zeebo legally in the past.
Jean Louise’s and Jem’s childhood friend. Dill plays with Jean Louise and Jem in the summertime, when Henry is not in town, so Henry and Dill never interact. Dill only appears in flashbacks in Go Set a Watchman, since he moved to Europe after World War II and never returned to Maycomb. Jean Louise was very fond of Dill when she was a child, though these feelings never turned into romantic sensations, since Jean Louise and Dill mostly played with each other when Jean Louise was still a child and very tomboyish. Jean Louise’s memories involving Dill make her remember Maycomb very fondly and nostalgically.
The music director at the Methodist church, which the Finches attend. Herbert tries to change the rhythm of the Doxology, a hymn that the congregation has sung in exactly the same way for generations. The townspeople don’t change their tune, and Uncle Jack chastises Herbert for trying to bring in newfangled ways.
The high school principal when Jean Louise, Jem, and Henry were in school. Mr. Tuffett makes a fuss when he finds the false bosoms, but Henry thwarts his plans to expel the culprit by convincing every girl in the school to confess to the crime.