“…and although she still moved like a thirteen-year-old boy and abjured most feminine adornment, he [Henry] found something so intensely feminine about her that he fell in love.” (13)
Tensions in gender roles are an important theme of this novel, which explores a young woman’s growth into identity and individuality. Because of this, those who surround Jean Louise, such as Aunt Alexandra, are constantly concerned about her (lack of) femininity. The young Scout was certainly not Aunt Alexandra’s type of lady, and even now the independent Jean Louise still calls herself a tomboy to her uncle.
Henry's Head (Simile)
“She took his head in her arms. She could feel his crew cut under her chin; it was like black velvet.” (78)
The softness of Henry’s head is a reminder of his soft spot for her, and how, in his head-over-heels love for her, she often has the superiority and the dominance with her head over his.
Carload of Black Youths (Simile)
“Something that looked like a giant black bee whooshed by them and careened around the curve ahead.” (80)
The giant black bee is a car filled with young black people, whom Henry views as a public danger, since they are risk-taking and often don’t even own licenses. The image of a “bee” is important because, as Jean Louise observes, people of different races stick together. When she visits Calpurnia, only black people surround her old friend, and no white people visit the secluded “hive” of the other race.
Jean Louise's Great Shock (Simile)
“With the same suddenness that a barbarous boy yanks the larva of an ant lion from its hole to leave it struggling in the sun, Jean Louise was snatched from her quiet realm and left alone to protect her sensitive epidermis as best she could, on a humid Sunday afternoon at precisely 2:28 PM.” (100)
This passage begins the chapter in which Jean Louise discovers the Citizens’ Council, and her disillusionment with Atticus, Henry, and Maycomb begins. It is a striking image, and one of extreme violence and pain. Lee uses this passage to preface everything else in order to introduce readers to the terrible shock Jean Louise is about to face.
Reconciliation with Atticus (Simile)
“Dear goodness, the things I learned. I did not want my world disturbed, but I wanted to crush the man who’s trying to preserve it for me. I wanted to stamp out all the people like him. I guess it’s like an airplane: they’re the drag and we’re the thrust, together we make the thing fly.” (277)
Upon forgiving her father, realizing her wrongs, and reconciling with him, Jean Louise (ironically) uses an image of new technology to piece together her new understanding of her family and her world. She is headstrong, brash, and staunch in her opinions, as much as Atticus is calm, practical, and also staunch in his opinions. This balance is needed in order for their love and their social work to not only fly, but soar.
Aunt Alexandra's Life (Metaphor)
“Alexandra was one of those people who had gone through life at no cost to themselves; had she been obliged to pay any emotional bills during her earthly life, Jean Louise could imagine her stopping at the check-in desk in heaven and demanding a refund.” (27)
Jean Louise sees her aunt as an emotionless person simply because they do not see eye to eye, and sometimes disagree deeply. However, this is part of Jean Louise’s bigotry and one of her faults. She is unable to see from others’ perspectives, including seeing how much Aunt Alexandra cares for her. She is only able to see Alexandra as a human with emotions when she hurts her aunt with words.
Seeds of States' Rights (Metaphor)
"Thus the seeds of states’ rights were sown in the hearts of Jean Louise’s generation.” (45)
States’ rights after the Civil War are still a hanging cloud over the entire South, and Maycomb is, according to Uncle Jack, “typical South.” In his urgings for Jean Louise to become an independent thinker and real individual, he also makes arguments concerning states’ rights, attempting to use it as a reflection for Jean Louise to see what must happen in her own life.
Hell in Maycomb (Metaphor)
“Hell was and would always be as far as she was concerned, a lake of fire exactly the size of Maycomb, Alabama, surrounded by a brick wall two hundred feet high. Sinners were pitchforked over this wall by Satan, and they simmered throughout eternity in a sort of broth of liquid sulfur.” (61)
While not particularly religious, the Finches go to church regularly, and the children have their own conceptions of Biblical truths. Ironically, Jean Louise’s conception of hell is reflective of the hell that exists in Maycomb for those rejected by it (the blacks), and readers of To Kill a Mockingbird may recall, gruesomely, the image of Tom Robinson attempting to escape from jail by leaping over an electrical fence.
Magpies at the Coffee (Metaphor)
“The magpies arrived at 10:30, on schedule. Jean Louise stood on the front steps and greeted them one by one as they entered.” (168)
Jean Louise calls the women of Maycomb “magpies” because they are varied, opportunistic, and scavengers. Calling them by a bird name is also particularly contrasting because of Jean Louise’s own family name: Finch.
Watchman and Conscience (Metaphor)
“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience.” (265)
Uncle Jack tells Jean Louise that the watchman Mr. Stone spoke of on Sunday (to which Jean Louise had wished that the minister had “set a watchman for her”) is actually her own conscience. This watchman who reports from the world will only report what each individual believes and is willing to hear and accept. Together, these individual consciences can balance each other out, but Uncle Jack also reminds his niece that “there is not collective conscious” (265).
Go Set a Watchman Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Go Set a Watchman is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.