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The reader finds out at the beginning of Go Set a Watchman that Jem Finch "dropped dead in his tracks one day." This sudden revelation that a beloved character is dead has left many readers of the newer book shocked.

Readers of To Kill a Mockingbird know that Scout and Jem's mother died, but few details surrounding her death were given in the first book. The sequel reveals more, telling of how "Atticus came home from work one evening and found his wife on the floor of the front porch dead." He had not seen her right away because "the wisteria vine" covered part of the porch so that it was hidden. She died of a heart attack. What they did not know at the time was that "Jean Graham Finch had brought to the family" a hereditary heart condition. This same heart condition "killed her son twenty-two years later on the sidewalk in front of his father’s office." This came as a shock to the family. Atticus had intended to leave his law practice to his only son.

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