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What is the theme in chapter 8 of "To Kill A Mockingbird"?I know of themes...

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itsjeslyn | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 17, 2008 at 10:08 AM via web

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What is the theme in chapter 8 of "To Kill A Mockingbird"?

I know of themes like prejudice, racism, and education in the other chapters, but I really cannot identify the ones in Chapter 8. Help!

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teacherscribe | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted February 17, 2008 at 10:31 AM (Answer #1)

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The theme of race is addressed through the symbol of the "snowman" that Jem creates.  Note how color is used here to reinforce the symbolism of race.  The snowman is really made up of balls of black mud and just covered with a thin veneer of white snow.  This is interesting to compare to what Atticus has always told the kids, color doesn't matter when judging someone.

Another theme involves that of helping each other out.  When Miss Maudie's house catches fire and begins to burn, everyone in Maycomb seems to turn out to help - even fire departments from across Alabama come to help.  The pinnacle of this is, of course, when Boo secretly puts the blanket around a shivering Scout standing by and watching the events unfold.

It is interesting to note too, given the initial theme of racism, how willing the community (well, the white members anyway) is to come together to aid Miss Maudie, but how few are willing to come out and aid Tom Robinson - or Atticus for that matter - when they need help later in the novel.

Note, too, Miss Maudie's determination the next morning after the fire to carry on and rebuild her house.  This is another theme that is vital to the novel.  For it is Atticus, after the Robinson trial, who is determined to stand up for what is right.

The first link is a summary of the chapter.  The final link is a discussion of the themes of the novel.  See if you can apply any additional ones to the chapter.

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted February 17, 2008 at 10:35 AM (Answer #2)

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Chapter 8 deals with the superstitions and fears people have when they cannot explain the things they don't understand. Adults as well as children feel the need to be able to explain the unknown, and this is why Mr. Avery blames children who misbehave for the bad weather, since it rarely snows in Maycomb. Scout and Jem have heard all of the superstitious rumors surrounding Boo Radley, and up to now, these rumors have guided their beliefs about the Radley house and Boo Radley. The end of the chapter foreshadows that the children will soon learn that Boo Radley is nothing like the gossips of Maycomb have made him out to be.

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