College of Arts and Sciences


Master of Arts in English (MA)


Matthew Towles


To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, Jean Louise, Scout, Southern identity


English Language and Literature | History | Literature in English, North America


Harper Lee’s novels To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman emphasize the struggle of mid-twentieth century Southern identity as Southerners searched for security, and she does so particularly in her main character, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. Throughout the novels, Jean Louise fights to find a balance within herself as she learns to decide what to accept or reject from her Southern culture. Using New Historicism and Southern Female Gender Studies, this thesis analyzes the character development of Jean Louise “Scout” in the novels and the traits she consistently accepts—discrimination and respect, honor of family, grace—and the ones she rejects—traditional Southern femininity, an “Us vs. Them” mentality (by recognizing her “colorblindness” and the “Other(s)”), and legalism. Moreover, Jean Louise “Scout” appears to find this balance between accepting and rejecting these traits due to her innate “Christ-haunted” nature (a term created by Flannery O’Connor); this ability is her subconscious and theological understanding that every man can be “whole.” In the end, this thesis not only discusses this specific type of character development within Jean Louise, but it also supports how Watchman—despite its more negative reception—is a key piece to properly reading this character.