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Go Set a Watchman, 3

SPOILERS! Part 1, Part 2









Chapter four ended with a waiter dropping the check for dinner off at Scout and Hank’s table.


Chapter five sees the couple going for a drive out to Finch’s Landing. Hank stops for set-ups (paper cups of ice and water) to which he adds Seagram’s Seven.

(narration of Hank’s thoughts) Atticus has been advising Hank to let Scout “go at her own speed. Push her and every mule in the county’d be easier to live with”. We hear about Hank’s experiences in law school, and Atticus basically telling him that law school itself was practically useless, and that he would learn law on the job, after about five years.


Hank is “sure” Scout belongs to him. He was Jem’s closest friend, and there was just enough age difference for Scout to develop a crush on him as a child - the kind where she threw rocks at him. Hank asks about Dill, Scout tells him he’s in Italy.

Scout thinks back to a summer day when she, Jem, and Dill were playing jungle explorers, until Calpurnia calls them in for lemonade. Afterwards, they decide to stage an elaborate revival (of the spiritual variety), inspired by the intense tent revivals going on in Maycomb, featuring a visiting preacher. Jem “preaches”, Dill says the amens and sings hymns, and they decide to “baptize” Scout in Dill’s Aunt Rachel’s fish pond. Jem advises her to take off her overalls so they don’t get wet, and Dill runs inside to grab a bed sheet to make a “holy ghost” costume for himself. Just as they’re about to dunk a naked Scout under the water, furious Aunt Rachel runs up with a switch and whacks Dill in the legs for ripping her good sheets off her fine bed and cutting eye holes in them. Dill tries to escape by joining Scout in the pond. Aunt Rachel backs off and Dill follows her inside. Scout climbs out of the pond and she and Jem watch him go. They then realize that Atticus, the visiting preacher, and the preacher’s wife are standing there watching them. Scout is still naked, so Atticus throws his jacket over her and hurries them home. The preacher and his wife are coming for dinner at the Finch home. Calpurnia scrubs Scout clean and puts her in a starched pink dress. At supper, Atticus asks the visiting preacher to say grace, instead of merely asking the lord to bless their food, the preacher goes on a long prayer tirade about the children and their sins, even dealing a low blow about them being motherless children. The kids are ashamed and embarrassed. Atticus is overcome, and with tears in his eyes, excuses himself and exits the room. Calpurnia goes to the kitchen and comes back to serve the food. When she gets to Scout, Scout asks her if Atticus is ok. Calpurnia, who had been using her “company manners”, replies “Mr. Finch? Nawm, Miss Scout, he on the back porch laughin’!”


Scout snaps out of her flashback as she and hank arrive at Finch’s Landing, the ancestral home. The land around the house had been sold off, piece and parcel, over the last several decades. The house itself had just been sold to a men’s club, for use as a hunting club and gambling hall. In the description of the house and land, we get the first explicit mention of the Finch family having owned slaves in the past.

Hank tells Scout that Maycomb is changing and sooner or later she’ll have to choose between it and New York. Scout thinks to herself that she would marry Hank if it meant she could live at Finch’s Landing, but thinks she’d go crazy living in Maycomb. Hank proposes to her again, but tells her she doesn’t have to answer right away. Talk turns to Hank running for the State Legislature, Atticus’s old seat, which has been controlled by the local political machine since he retired.


Scout asks him why he didn’t tell her about the Man of the Year award he had received from Kiwanis He tells her he was afraid she’d laugh at him:

“Yeah , you seem to be half laughing at me all the time.”

What could she say? How many times had she hurt his feelings? She said “You know I’ve never been exactly tactful, but I swear to god I’ve never laughed at you, Hank. In my heart I haven’t.”


They have a little make out session, and then end up horse playing each other into the river, swimming with their clothes on, before driving back to Maycomb. On the way, Scout ponders married life in Maycomb and fears that if asked to hold a baby while socializing, she’d drop it and kill it.

A “car full of negroes” passes their car at a high rate of speed. Hank opines that fast cars are the only “way they have to assert themselves” and calls the reckless drivers “a public menace”.


Hank drops Scout off at home and they make a date for the next evening. Tomorrow is Sunday and they have to go to church in the morning, and Scout is supposed to visit her Uncle Jack, too. Uncle Jack is much more of an eccentric scholar in this book than TKM, so she attempts to “study” a book before falling asleep.

End of chapter five.

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