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Go Set a Watchman, 2










Chapter two ended with dinner plans and Scout being denied permission to wear pants.


Chapter three begins by telling us more about Aunt Alexandra, pillar of the community and wearer of corsets. Aunt Alexandra regrets that Scout “didn’t have a mother”. She says sharp, damaging things to Scout. While, as the book puts it, “she has never been unkind to any living creature”, she made Scout’s life hell in many ways, and can cut Scout to the bone verbally. She is apparently unaware of this ability. She and her husband are separated, though Alexandra simply did not allow this potential scandal to have any effect on her social life and charitable activities. Her son is gay but she doesn’t know it.

In a flashback to after Jem’s funeral two years ago, Alexandra tells Scout she must return home to Maycomb to care for Atticus. Scout is skeptical that Atticus needs her, believing she would know if he did. But, the seeds of doubt and guilt are sown. Alexandra/Maycomb expect unmarried daughters to return, and live at home, caring for their parents as spinsters. Scout has other plans. Alexandra attempts to guilt her in to it by telling her that Jem (buried that same day, mind you) “was worried about (Scout’s) thoughtlessness until the day he died!” Scout knows this is not the case, because Jem would have just told her, but enters a spiral of self-doubt anyways. This is how Alexandra came to live with Atticus - well, that and that Calpurnia had officially retired six months ago, and had apparently been devasted by Jem’s sudden and unexpected death.


After Jem’s death, Atticus had sold the house and had a new one built across town, as a way of starting over. Alexandra informs Scout that she will be the guest of honor at “A Coffee” on Monday. This is a variety of ladies’ luncheon in which all the young women who never left Maycomb county have the opportunity to gawk at the ones who have and are home to visit. Scout goes along with it.

Alexandra informs Scout about Hank’s various achievements and awards there in Maycomb, but is horrified when Scout tells her they may get married - Hank is below their station, in her eyes - his parents were “rednecks”, his father left his mother, and then he essentially became Atticus’ ward. Alexandra’s protests naturally drive Scout further in the direction of marrying Hank than she was before. Atticus has been giving Hank subtle encouragement and advice. Alexandra repeatedly calls Hank “trash” and accuses him of riding Atticus’ coattails. Scout tells her to go pee in her hat.


Atticus sends Scout off on her date with Hanks after admonishing her gently for saying crude things to her genteel aunt. End of chapter three.

Chapter Four begins with a history of Maycomb county and its founding. Maycomb didn’t get a paved road until 1935 and the New Deal. Scout and Hank go for dinner at the hotel in town. scout makes some very cynical observations about marriage, having made case studies of many wealthy Madison Avenue couples and their infidelities in New York. Hank calls her out on her bitterness. Scout confesses that she’s afraid of marrying “the wrong man for me” and becoming a “shrew” in response. She recognizes and makes polite conversation with the black waiter who brings the check. End of Chapter four.

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