Go Set a Watchman Summary

You want to read Go set a Watchman by Harper Lee which probably means you have already read the previous award-winning Harper Lee’s book i.e. To Kill a Mockingbird. This is the second published book by Lee. However, there is a slight difference between the content and story of both these books. This book is not a sequel of To Kill a Mockingbird because it was actually written before Lee’s first book. Almost all the characters were the same as the previous book but children have been grown up as adults. Some important characters which you must know before starting with this novel are discussed below:

Important Characters of Go Set a Watchman

All characters of this novel have their significance presence but some are too important to know before starting reading it.

Jean Louise “Scout” Finch

The principal character of this novel. She has grown up to a 26 years old woman living in New York. She is no longer lives in Maycomb town but still, she is deeply connected with this town. After all, she has spent many years of her life here. She has come to Maycomb for the annual two-week visit. She has idolized her father throughout his life due to his morals and ethics. During her childhood days, she was a little tomboy. As a woman, she feels little weird to fit into the womanhood like the ladies of Maycomb town.

Atticus Finch

The important character of the story around whole story revolves. He is the father of Jean and a respected lawyer of Maycomb town. He is esteemed for his ethics and justice by all people of Maycomb. As per increasing age, he has got some diseases and illness in which arthritis (inflammation in joints) is one of them but he is still good at his work. One day, Jean saw him in a meeting of the racist organization (Maycomb County City Council), felt very weird and stuck in an unbalanced situation. Now, she is in dilemma to whom she trust and follow.

Alexandra Finch

Sister of Atticus Finch and aunt of Jean. Alexandra has a kind heart inside the arrogant exterior. She used to wear a corset like a suit of armor. She and Jean mostly have a heated argument with each other and they both know how to come upon each other. Alexandra wants Jean to wear and behave like an elegant Maycomb lady.

Jem Finch

Atticus’s son and Jean’s older brother. He died in his early twenties due to some heart conditions. The death of Jem is a shock for the entire Finch family. He has absolutely nothing role in Go Set a Watchman.

Dr. Jack Finch

Atticus’s brother and Jean’s father figure.  He is a retired doctor who lived alone in the house. He is a kind of isolated man who mostly spends his time with literature in spite of involving the town’s politics and actions.

Henry Clinton “Hank”

Jean’s best friend and Atticus’s law partner. Hank is too close to Atticus. After the death of Jem, he was like a son to Atticus. He wants to marry Jean for years but she was not ready for it. Henry repeatedly tries to convenience her on each Jean’s visit to Maycomb but fails every time.

Summary of Go Set a Watchman

Jean Louise has come to Maycomb town for her annual visit. Jean’s father Atticus has been suffering from arthritis. So to take care of him, Alexandra started living in the Finch’s house. Atticus has an assistant name as Henry Clinton in his office to assist him in law and justice. Henry and Jean were best friends since childhood. Each time, when Jean comes at her home, he tries to convenience her for marrying him but she didn’t commit it yet.

One day, they both decided to visit Atticus ancestral home where they went swimming late at night. Jean started to remember some precious memories of her childhood with Jem and Dill. On the way towards their home town, they saw a car full of black people driving too fast on the road. In this context, Henry says that they have money to buy a car but not for insurance and license to drive.

This trip of Jean and Henry was the mouth of the town. It is the latest gossip people are doing but Jean and her father are mildly amused by this news. The entire Finch family goes to church and follow the common prayer rituals. After the church, Atticus and Henry leave for a meeting which is going to be in the courthouse. But, a bad thing happens to her. She found a pamphlet with the title “The Black Plague” in the file of Atticus.

An Organization of White Supremacy

She follows them to the meeting which turns out to be a meeting of racist people i.e. Maycomb County Citizen’s Council. This organization support white people over black. All the residents of the tows are attending the meeting expect Uncle Jack. The meeting is in the same place where Atticus defended a black man when he was falsely accused of raping a white woman. She is watching the meeting from the same place where she and Jem used to sit in childhood during Tom Robinson’s trials. At that time, she was proud of her father but today she repugnance him due to a member of a racist meeting. After this, she leaves the meeting and walks around the town thinking about his father’s changed behavior.

The coming morning, the Finch family heard the news that the grandson of Calpurnia (a black woman who has served her services to Finch family as a cook and a mother figure to both children) has killed a pedestrian due to rash driving using his car. Atticus takes this case to stop NAACP from coming to town. Jean went to Calpurnia’s house to meet her and she treated her with love and affection. 

On that day, Jean has lunch with Uncle Jack and she asked him about the changed behavior of her father. How her father can be involved in such racial organizations? she asked Uncle Jack. When she asked such questions, he tries to explain to her that Atticus is trying to know his enemy by involving with them. He tries to give a conclusion to Jean but she didn’t get it. He is trying to make her understand about the Atticus behavior but she is not in the mood to understand. She believes in what she saw in the meeting.

A Slap to Clear Jean’s Dilemma

Jean and Henry went out to coffee where she clears everything about marrying him. She tells him that she is not going to marry him due to his hypocrite behavior. When they are having a heated argument with each other, Atticus is listening while standing near a corner. Atticus and she went to their office and started a debate about the meeting which she saw in court. She wants her father to do the right thing whether it is good or bad for politics. The whole thing is happening opposite to the Atticus morals and ethics which he has taught to his children. She was fighting with Atticus but with his harsh words.

After the argument, she went to her home to wrap her things up and move back to New York. Mr. Jack comes to her home and slaps her. The slap shocks her. It acts like water on fire. Her wrath for Atticus has stooped for a moment. When she became calm, Uncle Jack told her that Atticus is a normal human being, not an idol. He also said that Jean is an adult and she has to stand up on his own with her morals and ethics. Now, Jean decides to stay in Maycomb town and went to Atticus office for apologizing about her behavior. On her apology, Atticus says that he is very proud of her.

Conclusion of Go Set a Watchman

As per Jean, the behavior of Atticus is changed. When she was a child, Atticus is anti-racist but nowadays, he is leading a racism meeting. What happened to him? Is she overconcentration over his behavior? What’s your opinion on Atticus behavior? 

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