The narrative now follows Atticus Finch, who is seventy-two and arthritic. He reads a book and talks to his sister Alexandra, who now lives with him. The siblings are very different people, but Alexandra offered to live with Atticus when his arthritis got bad, and he didn’t want Jean Louise to stay at home and be miserable, so he accepted.
In To Kill a Mockingbird, we saw everything from Scout’s point of view, but in Watchman Lee uses a more omniscient narrator. This is less successful overall in terms of producing a compelling work of literature, but it does make the narrator a more objective observer of Atticus’s flaws.
Hank and Jean Louise arrive and Jean Louise greets Atticus excitedly. They all sit down and Jean Louise asks for the gossip about the family and Maycomb. Aunt Alexandra discusses Jean Louise’s clothes—she always disapproves of them and fears that they will not appropriately reflect the Finch’s honor. Jean Louise teases her aunt but Atticus stops her before she goes too far. Jean Louise and Atticus make plans to play golf the following week. Atticus hasn’t turned to liquor, cigarettes, or women in his old age, but he does like playing golf.
Aunt Alexandra is a consistent character between Mockingbird and Watchman, as a proper, disapproving, proud Southern lady. She thrives on the idea of how things ought to be, and so is never pleased with how the independent Jean Louise acts or dresses. Jean Louise and Atticus have an easy banter that shows how close and familiar their relationship is.
Atticus then asks Jean Louise what she’s heard about “what’s going on” in the South regarding integration and the Supreme Court decision “Brown v. Board of Education,” though he only calls it “the Supreme Court’s bid for immortality.” Jean Louise is flippant about how the Northern newspapers have been reporting it. Hank makes plans with her for a date and then leaves, with Jean Louise and Atticus discussing the family once more.
The outside world of politics briefly rears its head amidst the light conversation. The 1954 Supreme Court decision “Brown v. Board of Education” declared the “separate but equal” segregation laws in the South to be unconstitutional. There is a hint here that Atticus disapproves of the decision, but his disapproval is framed in terms of a disagreement on the legality of enforcing such a law uniformly upon the states and not on the basis of the philosophy of equality underpinning the law, and Jean Louise naturally assumes that he shares her more liberal (and Northern) views.