Summary: Chapter 13

When Jean Louise returns home, Alexandra is in the midst of preparing elaborate sandwich platters for Jean Louise’s Coffee. Alexandra is furious when Jean Louise tells her that she had gone to visit Calpurnia. Alexandra says that ever since the NAACP had arrived in town, the organization had filled black people’s ears with poison against white people, and that relations between the two races were strained. When Calpurnia left, says Alexandra, she couldn’t be bothered to train a new servant because black people were too difficult to keep happy.

Jean Louise feels like she’s going insane. Her aunt is hostile, Calpurnia won’t talk to her, Henry is insane, and Atticus has betrayed her. She thinks that something must be the matter with her, because it’s unfathomable that everyone else could have changed so profoundly.

The ladies arrive for the Coffee. They’re all dolled up in natty clothes and elaborate makeup. The newlyweds talk about their husbands, the new mothers discuss their children, and the woman who are slightly older discuss domestic affairs. Jean Louise tries to talk with the single girls, but all they want to do is gossip about high school friends. Eventually, Jean Louise mechanically passes around sandwiches and lets the various waves of conversation wash around her. Jean Louise realizes that she has nothing in common with these ladies, but if she marries Henry, they will form her social circle, and she’ll be out of place for the rest of her life.

The ladies at the Coffee begin discussing old Mr. Healy and Zeebo, and some express the rumor and fear that the black people are planning an underground revolution. The ladies seem to have their reactionary groups mixed up, since they are convinced that the members of the NAACP are also all Communists. Jean Louise finally snaps when one lady brings up “mongrelization,” pointing out that it takes two to mongrelize and that there’s no point in mistrusting one’s own race, let alone another.

Jean Louise contemplates what has happened to her family, and why everyone, in her perception, has become so deeply racist all of a sudden. She protests to herself that she learned about human decency while growing up in Maycomb, but now, the very people who taught her about such decency are no longer treating others with respect. Jean Louise is deeply conflicted because Calpurnia and Atticus have both instilled values of respect and equality for all in her, yet now, they are acting so differently.

Jean Louise pays attention to the Coffee again when one lady is discussing her recent visit to New York. Jean Louise explains that she knew she was a part of the city when someone pushed her on the subway and she pushed back. The ladies say that she must be blind not to see all the people of different races around her. Jean Louise thinks that she needs a watchman to sort through the hypocrisy surrounding her.