Summary: Chapter 6

Alexandra wakes Jean Louise up by screaming at her, since the whole town is buzzing with the gossip that she and Henry had been swimming naked in the river. Atticus is much more sanguine. He sees the humor in the situation.

They go to church, where Uncle Jack is waiting for them on the church steps. Uncle Jack is ten years younger than Atticus. Atticus paid for Uncle Jack’s medical education, and was eventually paid back, but supporting his brother prevented Atticus from starting his own family until age forty. Uncle Jack did so well that he retired early and now spends his days reading Victorian literature. Jean Louise goes into Sunday School and promptly dozes off.

Summary: Chapter 7

Jean Louise and Alexandra sit on one side of the church while Uncle Jack and Atticus sit together on the other. After collection, the Maycomb Methodists sing a hymn they call the Doxology, which they’ve sung the same way for generations. This Sunday, however, the music director, Herbert Jemson, directs the organist to play it with a completely different rhythm. The congregation does not alter, and the result is cacophony.

Mr. Stone the new minister, takes his text from the Bible, specifically twenty-first chapter of Isaiah, verse six: For thus hath the Lord said unto me, / Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth. (Sound familiar?) Jean Louise can’t concentrate on the sermon, since she’s too busy being indignant at the music. After the service, Uncle Jack scolds Herbert for messing up the Doxology. Herbert says that a music instructor from New Jersey had recently told him to pep up Southern hymns like the Doxology. Uncle Jack scoffs.

Summary: Chapter 8

On Sunday afternoon, Henry and Atticus go to a political meeting at the courthouse. Jean Louise finds a pamphlet in the living room titled “The Black Plague.” The pamphlet is full of racist declarations, such as claiming that black people are inferior because their skulls are thicker. Jean Louise is horrified. Alexandra tells Jean Louise that Atticus had brought it home from a meeting of the Maycomb County Citizen’s Council.

Jean Louise marches to the courthouse and sneaks up to the Colored balcony, where she and Jem used to watch Atticus litigate. All the men of Maycomb, from the least reputable to the most respected, are there. Atticus and Henry are there, too. The only man not present is Uncle Jack.

Atticus introduces a man who gives a racist speech, claiming that God intended races to stay apart. Jean Louise is appalled. She has a flashback to her childhood, when her father defended a one-armed black man against allegations of rape. Atticus won the case, and the one-armed man is acquitted. (This case is the center of the plot of To Kill a Mockingbird, although the verdict is different in that book.)

The man in the courtroom continues to give his racist speech. As Jean Louise watches Atticus and Henry silently watching the racist man, she feels sick and leaves the courthouse in disgust. Jean Louise stops by her old house, which has been converted into an ice cream parlor. The man running the shop gives Jean Louise ice cream, and she takes it to her former back yard. She feels betrayed by her father, the one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted.

Summary: Chapter 9

Integrity, humor, and patience are three words that are always used to describe Atticus. His private character is his public character. Atticus got married when he was forty to a woman fifteen years his junior. Two years after Jean Louise was born, his wife died of a heart attack. Atticus raised Jem and Jean Louise on his own with the help of Calpurnia, a black cook and surrogate mother figure. He read to Jem and Jean Louise constantly from whatever he happened to be reading at the time, from military history to legislative bills to the Bible.

After high school, Atticus sent her to a women’s college in Georgia, then sent her to New York to make her own way in the world. Jean Louise has always considered Atticus as the most powerful moral force in her life, and she had never before questioned this rock-solid conviction.

Summary: Chapter 10

Jean Louise vomits, still wanting to believe that the courthouse meeting had been a horrible mistake. She finally leaves the ice cream parlor and returns back to her father’s new house. Jean Louise telephones Uncle Jack and says she’ll see him tomorrow. She tells Alexandra to tell Henry that she’s ill. She goes upstairs and falls asleep, emotionally exhausted.


Even though Jean Louise is a grown woman, Alexandra still scolds her as though she is a child. Alexandra still puts Jean Louise in the role of a child while Jean Louise is home, reinforcing the power dynamic they have always had. Now, however, Jean Louise’s reactions are different than they used to be. Jean Louise was ashamed as a girl when the preacher saw her dripping wet after dunking in the fish pond, but now, even though the town is gossiping about her midnight swim with Henry, Jean Louise is more amused than abashed.

The congregation’s rigid adherence to the way it has always sung the Doxology symbolizes Maycomb’s desire to retain its accustomed practices and procedures. Even when the music tries to push them into a new direction, people firmly resist change and stand grounded in their beliefs and worldviews. The town fiercely clings to the everyday customs that make up daily life.

The dogmatic Doxology is an amusing example of Maycomb’s resistance to outside influence, but the townspeople’s resistance to change proves much more sinister in terms of race relations. “The Black Plague,” the pamphlet that Jean Louise discovers in Atticus’s house, expresses very racist views as though they are facts. Reading this pamphlet is really the first time that Jean Louise is confronted directly with racism upon her return home to Maycomb. Up till this point, she can live halfway in nostalgia for her youth and halfway in the present, not paying attention to the rampant segregation and racism that rules the town. Jean Louise could also tell herself that even if other townspeople were racist, Atticus followed his own strict moral compass. Now, her rock-solid belief in her father crumbles.

The Maycomb County Citizens’ Council is not dissimilar to the Ku Klux Klan, as both are organizations dedicated to white supremacy. Uncle Jack’s absence from the meeting suggests that Uncle Jack, like Jean Louise, marches to the beat of a slightly different drummer than the rest of Maycomb’s citizens. Then again, Uncle Jack’s interaction with Maycomb is not necessarily sustainable in the long term. On the one hand, Uncle Jack has unshakeable morals and doesn’t have to be a public enough figure to get along with everyone. However, Uncle Jack also hides his head in his books, burying himself in literature rather than facing the world’s ugly truths.

The scene in which Jean Louise sneaks into the courtroom to watch the Maycomb County Citizens’ Council meeting is very reminiscent of the climax of To Kill a Mockingbird. In that novel, Jem and Jean Louise sneak into the Colored balcony of the courthouse to watch Atticus litigate during the trial of the one-armed black man who has been accused of rape. Atticus defends the man. This trial is only a passing memory in Go Set a Watchman, but the event is the crux of To Kill a Mockingbird’s plot.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, the black man accused of rape is found guilty. In Go Set a Watchman, however, the man is acquitted. The altered outcome changes the case’s impact on the story as a whole. Atticus is on the side of justice in To Kill a Mockingbird, but the unjust verdict amplifies the divide between Atticus and the rest of the town. When Atticus stands up for a man and the rest of the town finds the man guilty, Atticus’s moral backbone seems firmer than ever by comparison. However, in Go Set a Watchman, the stakes of the court case and its impact on the rest of the novel are lowered. Atticus has proven his point legally, which results in the acquittal. Atticus therefore doesn’t seem as resolute in his moral beliefs despite the opinions of the town. He wins over the case, demonstrating both his legal prowess and that he might not have to be as staunch and firm a bastion against opposing beliefs as he appears to be in To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticu’s status as a lawyer who stands on the right side of justice even when the court rules against him amplifies his role as an idol in Jean Louise’s eyes. On the other hand, in Go Set a Watchman, Atticus is merely a lawyer who has won a tough case.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Jean Louise is proud of Atticus as she watches him from the balcony, since he is arguing on the side of justice and equality. However, in Go Set a Watchman, Jean Louise is horrified as she watches Atticus in the courtroom. To Jean Louise, the very fact that Atticus is in this meeting at all means that he is a hypocrite, claiming to value equality when in fact he accepts racism. Atticus himself doesn’t say anything that could be condemned. Atticus merely introduces the speaker in a very neutral fashion. But Jean Louise hears the speaker’s speech as though Atticus himself has said every word, and she internalizes its message as matching Atticus’s beliefs.

Even though Henry was also at the meeting, Jean Louise is most upset over Atticus’s presence in the Maycomb County Citizens’ Council. Jean Louise recalls her childhood, in which Atticus always represented the model of honesty and integrity. When Jean Louise refuses to see Henry the night after the Council meeting, she is angry at Henry for being a hypocrite, but she is most deeply upset over what she perceives as Atticus’s betrayal. The fact that Jean Louise is far more shaken by Atticus’s action than Henry’s, even though both men were in the courthouse for the meeting, symbolizes that Jean Louise’s bond with Henry does not truly run very deep. Jean Louise’s anger prods her to remember scenes from her childhood involving Atticus in which Henry does not appear. To be sure, Jean Louise is furious with Henry for attending the meeting, but his presence doesn’t rattle her emotional core the way Atticus’s does.