Character List of Go Set a Watchman

Major Characters

Jean Louise (Scout) Finch Jean Louise is a 26-year-old Maycomb, Alabama, native who now lives in New York City and returns to Maycomb for her annual visit home. Known as Scout in her childhood, Jean Louise is also the protagonist and narrator of Harper Lee’s first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. As an adult, Jean Louise is less wild than “Scout” used to be, but she is every bit as passionate and idealistic. Jean Louise’s homecoming reminds her of her younger years in Maycomb, especially her turbulent puberty years. Now, however, Jean Louise must go through a very different coming of age when she learns that her father, Atticus, and her love interest, Hank, are members of the Maycomb citizens’ council, an organization dedicated to preserving segregation in the South. The news that her hero isn’t the man she thought he was devastates Jean Louise, who has always thought of her father as a moral authority and a champion of racial equality. As she tries to come to terms with what her father really believes about race and what she herself believes, Jean Louise learns the danger of entrusting your conscience to someone else.

Atticus Finch Jean Louise’s father. At 72 years old, Atticus is a well-respected Maycomb lawyer who is training Hank to take his place. Because he suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis and has difficulty caring for himself, Atticus lives with his sister, Alexandra, who takes care of him. Atticus’ wife, Jean, died young from a heart attack, leaving Atticus to raise Jem and Jean Louise with the help of a cook named Calpurnia. During Jean Louise’s childhood, Atticus defended a black man accused of rape. (In Go Set a Watchman, he won this trial, but in To Kill a Mockingbird, he lost.) Because of this trial, Jean Louise thinks of her father as a champion of equal rights for all races. However, Atticus’ views are not so easy to define: Although he claims to want fair treatment for all races, he also appears to believe that black people are not yet ready for the full rights of citizenship. Go Set a Watchman never clarifies precisely what Atticus thinks about racial equality, but clearly Atticus wants his daughter to begin thinking for herself about ethical issues.

Henry (Hank) Clinton Hank is 4 years older than Jean Louise—the same age as her brother, Jem—and grew up with the two of them. Hank’s alcoholic father deserted him and his mother shortly after Hank was born, and his mother died when he was 14. Atticus took Hank under his wing, and Hank is now the heir apparent of Atticus’ law practice in Maycomb. Hank has always had feelings for Jean Louise and regularly tries to persuade her to marry him. Although Jean Louise thinks of Hank as being part of her social class, both Alexandra and Hank remind her that Hank comes from a lineage of “white trash,” and he does not enjoy the same privileged status Jean Louise does. Because of his low social status, Hank feels that he needs to compromise his beliefs on racial equality and help defend segregation in order to be a successful lawyer and politician in Alabama.

Alexandra Finch Hancock Atticus’ sister and Jean Louise’s aunt. Jean Louise finds Alexandra abrasive and unlikeable but also appreciates her aunt’s dependability. Alexandra, who has been separated from her husband for many years, lives with and cares for Atticus, making it possible for Jean Louise to live elsewhere. Because of this living arrangement, Alexandra constantly showers Jean Louise with guilt and tries to convince her to move back to Maycomb permanently to look after Atticus. Alexandra cares a great deal about family reputation and social propriety: She often lectures Jean Louise about dressing and acting more ladylike. The racial attitudes of the white South influence Alexandra the most out of all of the Finches, and she believes that black people are genetically inferior to whites.

Dr. John Hale (Jack) Finch Jean Louise’s uncle and Atticus’ younger brother. Atticus paid Jack’s way through medical school, and Jack went on to become a successful orthopedic doctor. Well educated and reclusive, Jack often talks in tangents and makes references to obscure works of literature. Jack is the one white man in Maycomb who Jean Louise knows is not a member of the citizens’ council, and so she goes to him to try to make sense of the racial tensions in Maycomb. Jack seems to be speaking in riddles the first time they talk, but later they have a second conversation during which he helps her think more clearly about her emotional turmoil.

Minor Characters

Jeremy Atticus (Jem) Finch Jean Louise’s older brother, playmate, and closest friend for much of her childhood. With their friend Dill, young Jem and Jean Louise played games of make believe, and Jem was always the ringleader of these games. Jem died of a heart attack when he was 28 years old, two years before the novel is set.

Charles Baker (Dill) Harris A childhood playmate of Jean Louise and Jem, Dill spent his summers in Maycomb living with his great-aunt Rachel, who lived next door to the Finches. Dill joined the army during World War II and was sent to Europe, where he has lived ever since.

Calpurnia The Finch family’s cook, an older black woman whose grandson Frank hits a white man while driving. Jean Louise visits Calpurnia and discovers that Maycomb’s racial tensions have poisoned her relationship with the woman who once treated her like a daughter.

Joshua Singleton St. Clair Jean Louise’s cousin, whom Aunt Alexandra remembers as a credit to the family even though he spent most of his life in jail.

Mr. and Mrs. Merriweather A Maycomb couple getting a divorce after forty-two years of marriage.

Francis Hancock Aunt Alexandra’s son, who looks and behaves like a horse and sells insurance in Birmingham.

James Hancock Aunt Alexandra’s husband; although they are still married, he left her fifteen years ago to live alone at his fishing camp.

Judge Taylor Maycomb County’s judge.

Albert An old friend of Jean Louise’s who is now a waiter at the restaurant where Jean Louise and Hank have their first date.

Miss Rachel Dill’s great-aunt, who lived next door to the Finches when Jean Louise was a child.

Reverend and Mrs. Moorehead A revival preacher and his wife who visited Maycomb and came to Finch house for dinner when Jean Louise was a child.

Mrs. Clyde Haskins The organist at the Methodist church the Finches attend.

Herbert Jemson The music director at the Methodist church who speeds up the Doxology at the suggestion of a man from New Jersey.

Mr. Stone The dull preacher at the Methodist church who preaches the Isaiah text from which the novel’s title is taken.

William Willoughby An amoral man at the citizens’ council whom Jean Louise knows Atticus despises.

Tom-Carl Joyner William Willoughby’s right-hand man.

Grady O’Hanlon A traveling speaker devoted to preserving segregation who is speaking at the citizens’ council when Jean Louise visits.

Jean Graham Finch Jean Louise’s mother, who died of a heart attack when Jean Louise was 2 years old.

Mr. Cunningham Owner of the ice cream parlor that stands where Jean Louise’s childhood home used to be.

Miss Blunt Jean Louise’s sixth-grade teacher.

Francine Owen A girl in Jean Louise’s sixth-grade class who was taken out of school when her sister became pregnant after both girls were raped by their father.

Ada Belle Stevens A girl in Jean Louise’s sixth-grade class who gave Jean Louise a haphazard lesson in sex education and made her believe that kissing leads to pregnancy.

Albert Coningham A boy who kissed Jean Louise in sixth grade, which made her believe that she was pregnant.

Zeebo One of Calpurnia’s sons. His son Frank is in trouble with the law for hitting and killing a white man while driving.

Mr. Healy An old white man who is hit and killed by a car that Calpurnia’s grandson Frank is driving.

Frank Calpurnia’s grandson, the driver of the car that hits and kills Mr. Healy.

Helen Zeebo’s wife.

Sarah Finley A woman at Jean Louise’s Coffee.

Hester Sinclair A woman at Jean Louise’s Coffee with whom Jean Louise gets into an argument about racial politics.

Claudine McDowell A woman at Jean Louise’s Coffee who can’t understand how Jean Louise can live in New York City surrounded by black people.

Irene Jem’s girlfriend during his senior year of high school.

Charles Tuffett Called Miss Muffett by his students, Mr. Tuffett was the high school principal who tried to punish the owner of Jean Louise’s false breasts.


Pop Quiz!

Why is Jean Louise surprised when Hank meets her at the train station?

Q&A

In Little Lost Robot," by Isaac Asimov, why have some robots been impressioned with only part of the First Law of Robotics?"

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