Summary of the Novel
Two plots run through the book To Kill a Mockingbird. The first is the mystery of the Radley Place and its inhabitant Boo Radley. The children work throughout the first part of the novel to bring him out or to see him inside the house.
The second plot is that of the accusation of Thomas Robinson as a rapist, his trial, and his conviction. Even though Tom is convicted, Mr. Robert Ewell and Mayella are not believed; Robert Ewell is determined to seek revenge on Atticus.
When Bob Ewell seeks to kill Jem and Scout, Boo Radley hears the commotion and manages to kill Ewell before he can harm the children further. The sheriff refuses to tell the story of Boo Radley to the community; he protects him and his privacy.
To Kill a Mockingbird is set in Maycomb, a small Southern town in Alabama in the 1930s. The reader is not told the date until more than halfway through the book, but the references to the NRA, Hitler, and the quote “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” set the time in the reader’s mind. The racially divided town and the strict class system help the reader to visualize life in the South during this time period.
Click here for a Map of MaycombMap of Maycomb
List of Characters
Atticus Finch—A Southern lawyer and the father of Scout and Jem.
Scout Finch (also known as Jean Louise)—Atticus’ daughter. She is six years old when the story begins.
Jem Finch (also known as Jeremy Atticus)—Atticus’ son, who is ready for fifth grade when the story begins.
Charles Baker Harris (Dill)—A six-year-old who visits his Aunt Rachel Haverford in Maycomb.
Calpurnia and Zeebo—The cook for the Finch family and her son, who also drives a garbage truck.
Aunt Alexandra Hancock—Atticus’ sister, who is married to Jimmy Hancock. She has one son named Henry and a seven-year-old grandson named Francis.
Mr. and Mrs. Radley—The parents of Arthur and Nathan Radley.
Arthur Radley (a.k.a. “Boo Radley”)—A recluse in the neighborhood and the younger brother of Nathan Radley.
Mr. Walter Cunningham and Walter Cunningham—A proud but poor father and son. The son is Scout’s classmate.
Cecil Jacobs—Scout’s classmate.
Mr. Robert Ewell—The irresponsible father of Burns and Mayella. He spends his welfare checks on alcohol.
Burns Ewell—Robert Ewell’s son who attends Scout’s class for one day.
Mayella Ewell—Robert Ewell’s daughter; she accuses Tom Robinson of raping her.
Little Chuck Little—A well-mannered classmate of Scout.
Miss Carolina Fisher and Miss Gates—Scout’s first and third-grade teachers.
Miss Maudie Atkinson—A friend of Jem and Scout who lives up the street.
Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose—An elderly woman on Jem and Scout’s street. They call her the “meanest old woman in the world.”
Miss Stephanie Crawford and Mr. Avery—Two neighborhood gossips.
Dr. Reynolds—The family doctor.
Eula May—The telephone operator.
Tom Robinson and Helen Robinson—Husband and wife; Tom is accused of rape.
Jack Finch—Atticus’s brother, who is a doctor.
Heck Tate—The sheriff.
Lula—An argumentative member of Calpurnia’s church.
Reverend Sykes—Preacher of the First Purchase A.M.E. Zion Church.
Mr. B. B. Underwood—Editor of Maycomb Tribune.
Dolphus Raymond—A white man who lives with blacks.
Judge Taylor—The judge who presides at Tom Robinson’s trial.
Mrs. Grace Merriweather, Mrs. Gertrude Farrow, Mrs. Perkins, Mrs. Gates—Members of the missionary circle.
Sarah and Frances Barber (also known as Tutti and Frutti)—Two deaf sisters.
Estimated Reading Time
The total reading time for the 281-page book should be about 9 1/2 hours. Reading the book according to the natural chapter breaks is the best approach.
Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Scout Finch, almost six years old, her brother Jem, four years older, and their little friend Dill (Charles Baker Harris), a visitor to Maycomb, Alabama, spend their summer thinking of ways to lure Boo Radley from his house. The children never have seen the recluse, but a few townspeople saw him some years ago when Boo reportedly stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors, was locked up for a time, and then was returned to his family. No one in Maycomb has seen him since.
Challenged by Dill, Jem, although fearful he will be killed by Boo—who “dined on raw squirrels and any cats he could catch” —runs and touches the Radley house. The children flee home and look back to see what appears to be an inside shutter move.
In the fall, Scout enters school and gets into trouble in class because she can already read and out of class for fighting with boys. During the year, she and Jem find children’s treasures in a knothole in an oak tree on the Radley place. Before they can put a thank-you note in the tree for the unknown benefactor, Nathan Radley, Boo’s brother, fills the knothole with cement.
The next summer Dill returns. Rolling inside a runaway tire, Scout slams into the Radley porch. She hears laughing inside as she recovers and runs. The three children play Boo Radley games until stopped by Jem and Scout’s father, Atticus.
The last night of Dill’s visit, the three try to look in a window of the Radley home. Jem raises his head to look in, and the children see a shadow coming toward them. They run and a shotgun roars. Jem catches his pants on a wire fence and has to leave them there. After Nathan tells the neighbors he fired at an intruder, Jem goes back for his pants and finds them not only mended but also neatly folded over the fence.
The next winter it snows in Maycomb, and Scout and Jem make their first snowman. During the cold snap, the house of a neighbor, Miss Maudie Atkinson, burns down. Back home after shivering from the cold with the other onlookers, Scout discovers a blanket placed around her shoulders. The only adult in town not at the fire is Boo Radley. Jem tells his father of the treasures in the tree and about his mended pants, fixed by the strange man who never hurts them even when he has the chance.
Scout and Jem begin hearing their father called a “nigger-lover” around town, because of his appointment to defend a black man, Tom Robinson. Atticus warns them to hold their heads high and to not fight about it, but at Christmas Scout bloodies a boy cousin’s nose for repeating the accusation.
The brother and sister receive air rifles for Christmas but are cautioned by their father that to kill a mockingbird is a sin. Their friend Miss Maudie later explains that mockingbirds only make music and sing their hearts out for people.
One day a mad dog comes down the street, and the town’s sheriff asks Atticus to shoot it. He dispatches it with one shot. The children are told that their father, whom they think of as old and feeble, was once known as One-Shot Finch, the best shot in Maycomb County....
(The entire section is 1279 words.)
Summary (The Sixties in America)
Narrated by precocious Jean Louise “Scout” Finch, who ages from six to eight in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird depicts the initiation of Scout, her older brother Jem, and their friend Dill into the adult world of prejudice and injustice. Growing up in Maycomb, Alabama, in the 1930’s, the three children are fascinated by the story of Arthur “Boo” Radley, who, following some youthful misdeed, has been forced into seclusion by his fanatically religious family and subsequently victimized by the community’s prejudice and fear. Although the children view him as a monster to be feared, they simultaneously desire to know and understand him. Meanwhile, their lives are disrupted by the appointment of Scout’s father, Atticus Finch, as defense attorney for an African American man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell. The children’s introduction to racial prejudice and injustice is swift and severe. Although Finch clearly proves that Robinson is innocent, the all-white jury finds him guilty, and Robinson is subsequently killed in an escape attempt. Mayella’s father, Bob Ewell, revealed in the trial to be a liar, seeks revenge on Atticus Finch and, in a drunken rage, tries to murder Scout and Jem. Boo Radley, who had befriended the children in secret, rescues them. The novel ends with Atticus’s fear that society will pay for its injustice but also with the belief that in spite of his losing the case, a small step has been made toward racial justice.
Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee’s one published novel, is set in a small Southern town. People there are defined by gender, race, and social class, forced to play the roles that history and gossip have assigned to them. When the book was published, it was seen primarily as an attack on racial prejudice. However, it is now more correctly viewed as opposing all infringements on the rights of people to be themselves.
In Maycomb, Alabama, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch and her brother Jem are being reared by their widower father, Atticus Finch, a lawyer. Atticus is trying to teach his children respect for others as the individuals they are. Thus Atticus reprimands his children for prejudging their neighbor,...
(The entire section is 363 words.)
Summary (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction and the Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in 1961. It was adapted into a movie starring Gregory Peck in 1962. The movie earned an Academy Award for the script, and Peck won an award for best actor. Critics have pointed out the autobiographical elements of the novel, suggesting that Harper Lee, while growing up in Monroeville, Alabama, was affected by racial tensions resulting from the lack of employment opportunities for blacks and poor whites during the Depression. Her father was a lawyer and Lee attended law school before deciding to write full-time. Biographers maintain that when Lee was Scout’s age, she became aware of the case...
(The entire section is 860 words.)
Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
To Kill a Mockingbird has been discussed by many critics simply in terms of racial prejudice; however, it is clear that in both the novel and the film the theme is more universal than a portrayal of the evil of racial prejudice. That evil is shown as an example of humankind’s intolerance. In all of its forms, people’s inhumanity to others is the real antagonist of the enlightened. In the novel, there are many minor instances of prejudice, including the encounter between Jem and Mrs. Dubose, with which part 1 of the book ends. These incidents prepare for the concentration on the two major plot lines in part 2. Neither of the plot lines dominates the novel. Structurally, they are brilliantly interwoven. Thematically,...
(The entire section is 1074 words.)
Summary (Censorship (Ready Reference series))
When To Kill a Mockingbird first appeared in 1960, most critics praised it; the following year it won several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. Set in a small Southern town in the 1930’s, the novel focuses on the trial of an African American man accused of raping a white woman; it is narrated by the young daughter of the man’s defense lawyer. The novel rapidly found a niche in young adult literature collections; by the mid- 1960’s it was widely read in junior and senior high school English classes. At the same time, however, some parents objected to the book’s inclusion in school classes, calling it immoral and citing its use of profanity and explicit details of violence, especially rape. Some adults also...
(The entire section is 405 words.)
Summary (Novels for Students)
Chapter Summary and Analysis
Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis
Atticus Finch: a Southern lawyer and the father of Scout and Jem.
Scout: the six-year-old daugher of Atticus and the innocent narrator of To Kill a Mockingbird.
Dill: a six-year-old summer visitor to Maycomb and a friend of both Scout and Jem.
The Radley Family: Mr. and Mrs. Radley and their sons, Arthur and Nathan, who are the antagonists for the first 11 chapters of the novel.
Jem: the ten-year-old son of Atticus and the brother of Scout.
Miss Stephanie Crawford: the neighborhood gossip, a woman in her late sixties who has never been married.
Calpurnia: the cook for the Finch family.
(The entire section is 1531 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis
Miss Caroline: the new first-grade teacher and Scout’s antagonist.
Walter Cunningham: a poor but proud member of the Cunningham family and Scout’s classmate.
Chapter 2 describes Scout’s first day in school. The new teacher, Miss Caroline Fisher, spanks Scout’s hand before the morning is over. The conflict between Scout and Miss Fisher begins when Miss Fisher finds out that Scout can read; Miss Fisher tells Scout not to allow her father to teach her anymore. Scout says that her father did not teach her to read and proceeds to tell Miss Fisher of Jem’s belief that Scout was swapped at birth and that she was born reading The...
(The entire section is 1219 words.)
Chapter 3 Summary and Analysis
Little Chuck Little: Scout’s polite, brave classmate.
Burris Ewell: Scout’s surly classmate who attends school once a year.
Chapter 3 occurs over a six-hour period from lunchtime until nightfall of Scout’s first day in school. Scout takes out her frustration with school and especially with Miss Caroline by rubbing Walter’s nose in the dirt of the school yard as the lunch break begins. Jem stops the slaughter and Scout quickly explains that Walter made her start school “on the wrong foot.” Jem serves as a peacemaker and invites Walter to their home for lunch. Scout pledges not to fight him again.
On the way home, the...
(The entire section is 837 words.)
Chapter 4 Summary and Analysis
Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose: “the meanest old woman who ever lived.”
Cecil Jacobs: one of Scout’s classmates.
Scout’s first-grade year finally ends; her conclusion is that she has been cheated out of something. Each day she runs by the Radley Place 30 minutes before Jem. One day she finds gum in the tree near the Radley home. When she tells Jem about the gum, he makes her spit it out. On the last day of school the two children walk home together. They find a package covered with foil and containing two scrubbed, Indian-head pennies in the tree near the Radley Place. The children cannot figure out the source of the treasures.
(The entire section is 739 words.)
Chapter 5 Summary and Analysis
Miss Maudie Atkinson: the neighbor who had grown up with Jack Finch.
Uncle Jack Finch: Atticus’s doctor-brother, ten years his junior.
Scout begins to spend more time with Miss Maudie. The two talk about religion and anything else Scout wants to discuss. Miss Maudie treats Scout as an equal. She tells Scout to call Boo Radley by his real name: Arthur Radley, and she believes that Arthur does not come out of the house because he wants to stay inside. When Scout tells her that Jem believes he has died and been stuck up the chimney, Miss Maudie compares Jem to his Uncle Jack. It is apparent that Maudie and Atticus have similar views about...
(The entire section is 670 words.)
Chapter 6 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Avery: a neighbor who boards across the street from Mrs. Dubose.
On Dill’s last night in town for the summer, Jem and Dill decide to peep in the window at the Radley Place to see if they can see Boo. Scout comes along. A shadow appears and the children run in fear. When shots ring out, Jem leaves his pants caught on the barbed-wire fence. The children join the other Maycomb residents who have come out into the night to see what has happened. Later in the night Jem and Scout return to the Radley Place for Jem’s pants.
Discussion and Analysis
The children have violated the trust of the adults in their lives. The...
(The entire section is 426 words.)
Chapter 7 Summary and Analysis
Scout starts second grade. The children continue to look in the knothole and find presents: a ball of twine, two dolls carved from soap which resemble Jem and Scout, gum, a spelling medal, and a watch and pocketknife on a chain. Jem becomes very quiet. He finally tells Scout that the trousers he retrieved had been mended and neatly folded when he returned for them.
After Scout and Jem write a thank-you note and place it in the knothole, they return to find the knothole in the tree has been filled with cement. Mr. Radley admits he filled up the hole, using the excuse that the tree was sick.
Jem seems to be spending a lot of time thinking. Scout believes that on...
(The entire section is 545 words.)
Chapter 8 Summary and Analysis
Eula May: Maycomb’s leading telephone operator.
Snow comes to Maycomb the day after Mrs. Radley’s death. Eula May lets the Finch children know that school has been canceled. The children build a snow character by borrowing snow from Miss Maudie. They combine this snow with mud to make the figure, which at first resembles Mr. Avery and then is changed when Atticus protests.
That night Atticus wakes the children in the middle of the night and takes them outside. A fire is destroying Miss Maudie’s house, and the sparks are threatening the Finch home also.
At dawn Scout finds that someone has placed a blanket over her...
(The entire section is 457 words.)
Chapter 9 Summary and Analysis
Tom Robinson: the accused rapist whom Atticus must defend.
Ike Finch: Maycomb County’s sole surviving Confederate veteran.
Aunt Alexandra and Uncle Jimmy Hancock: Atticus’ sister and her husband.
Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hancock and Francis Hancock: Aunt Alexandra’s son, his wife, and their son.
Cecil Jacobs and others complicate Scout’s school life further when they say “Scout Finch’s daddy defended niggers.” When Scout asks Atticus about this, he says that he does. Atticus explains that he could not hold his head up again if he doesn’t defend Robinson, but he does not expect to win the case.
(The entire section is 709 words.)
Chapter 10 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Heck Tate: the sheriff of Maycomb County.
Tim Johnson: Mr. Harry Johnson’s liver-colored bird dog.
Zeebo: Calpurnia’s son who drives a garbage truck for Maycomb County.
Jem and Scout feel dissatisfied with their father. Because he is nearly 50 and wears glasses, they see him as feeble. They doubt his manliness. They worry that he has no exciting occupation and does not teach them to shoot their air rifles. It is in a discussion with their father about their rifles that the theme for the whole book—the mockingbird—begins to emerge. Atticus tells the children that it is a sin To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout...
(The entire section is 800 words.)
Chapter 11 Summary and Analysis
Jem and Scout pass Mrs. Dubose’s home on their way to the store. Because Mrs. Dubose makes sly remarks about Atticus, Jem returns to cut all the buds off her camellia bushes. Atticus confronts Jem with the cut flowers and advises Jem to talk with Mrs. Dubose. Atticus does not allow Scout to go with Jem on this visit, but he comforts her with the statement, “It’s not time to worry yet.” For punishment, Mrs. Dubose requires Jem and Scout to visit her six days a week for a month and read to her for two hours. She admits to Atticus and the children that she is requiring them to stay longer each day and that she is extending the total time by a week.
About a month after their time is...
(The entire section is 641 words.)
Chapter 12 Summary and Analysis
Reverend Sykes: pastor of First Purchase A.M.E. Zion Church.
Lula: contentious member of First Purchase A.M.E. Zion Church.
Part Two of To Kill a Mockingbird begins with Chapter 12. The focus shifts from the ghosts and superstitions associated with the Radleys to Tom Robinson.
The children’s growth and development are evident as time passes. Atticus has to spend time in Montgomery, so the children are left alone with Calpurnia more and more. One Sunday Calpurnia takes the children to church with her. The children find that they are not warmly accepted by all members of the First Purchase African M.E. Zion Church....
(The entire section is 989 words.)
Chapter 13 Summary and Analysis
Aunt Alexandra moves in with Scout, Jem, and Atticus “for a while” in order to give Scout some “feminine influence.” When Atticus returns from Montgomery, he explains to the children why his sister is staying. Scout narrates, however, that Aunt Alexandra’s presence is “not so much Atticus’ doing as hers.”
Maycomb welcomes Aunt Alexandra. She becomes a resident expert on the people of Maycomb and their ancestors, and she tries to instill in the children an appreciation for their own ancestors. Scout remarks that they have already heard of one of these: Cousin Joshua “who went round the bend.”
After hearing Scout’s opinion, Aunt Alexandra tries to enlist the...
(The entire section is 658 words.)
Chapter 14 Summary and Analysis
The previously serene Finch household is thrown into disarray. The townspeople oppose Atticus’ defending Tom Robinson and are making comments. When Scout hears the word “rape” and asks Atticus what it means, he gives a legal definition. This delicate situation is followed by Scout’s request to visit Calpurnia—which Aunt Alexandra immediately vetoes. When Scout tells Aunt Alexandra that she had not been asked, Atticus chastises Scout.
Jem motions for Scout to follow him upstairs where he explains to her that Atticus and Aunt Alexandra have “been fussing.” Scout realizes she has never heard anyone quarrel with Atticus. Jem asks Scout not to antagonize Aunt Alexandra since...
(The entire section is 638 words.)
Chapter 15 Summary and Analysis
Braxton Bragg Underwood: sole owner, editor, and printer of The Maycomb Tribune.
Mr. Walter Cunningham: the father of Walter Cunningham and a member of the mob which appears at the jail.
Dr. Reynolds: the family doctor of the Finch family and most of the people in Maycomb.
After numerous calls, much pleading, and a letter, Dill finally receives permission to remain in Maycomb. Scout says that they only had “a week of peace together. . . . A nightmare was upon us.”
A group of men from Maycomb visit Atticus at home on Saturday night to tell him that they are uneasy about Tom in the jail. They question...
(The entire section is 752 words.)
Chapter 16 Summary and Analysis
Judge Taylor: presides over the session of court in which Tom Robinson is to be tried.
Mr. Dolphus Raymond: a white man who sits with the black people and who has “a colored woman and all sorts of mixed chillun.”
Foot-washers: a man and his wife who belong to a church which is conservative and practices the washing of feet.
Idlers’ Club: old men who spend their last days idling on benches on the town square and who serve as courthouse critics.
Jem, Scout, and Atticus come home on Sunday night after Aunt Alexandra is in bed. They coast into the carhouse and enter the house without a word. As Scout begins to...
(The entire section is 975 words.)
Chapter 17 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Gilmer: the solicitor.
Robert E. Lee Ewell: the father of the victim of Tom’s alleged rape.
Chapter 17 is a record of the court proceedings as told from Scout’s point of view. The reader hears Mr. Tate tell about the day he was called to see Mayella. Mr. Ewell, the father of the victim allegedly raped by Tom, is also cross-examined. He testifies that he saw Tom raping Mayella.
Reverend Sykes wants to send Scout home when Ewell describes certain explicit parts of the alleged rape, but Jem assures him that she does not understand.
The chapter concludes with Robert Ewell’s testimony during which it is proved...
(The entire section is 479 words.)
Chapter 18 Summary and Analysis
Mayella Ewell: the alleged rape victim.
Chapter 18 is primarily an account of Mayella Ewell’s testimony. When Mr. Gilmer begins his questioning, Mayella does not answer his questions about the alleged rape. She tells the judge that she is frightened by Atticus. As she finally begins to tell her story of what she says happened, she seems to grow in confidence. When Atticus begins his cross-examination, he is patient and calm with Mayella. Mayella admits that her father “does tollable” except when he has been drinking. She contradicts this statement by saying that he has never touched a hair on her head. Mayella says she does not know how Tom did...
(The entire section is 435 words.)
Chapter 19 Summary and Analysis
Link Deas: the former employer of Tom Robinson.
Chapter 19 tells of Tom’s examination and a part of his cross-examination. During the examination by Atticus, Tom tells how he helped Mayella on several occasions. He tells how Mayella hugged him about the waist on the day in question, how Mr. Ewell appeared on the scene, and how Tom ran in fear.
At that point Link Deas stands up and announces, “I just want the whole lot of you to know one thing right now. That boy’s worked for me eight years an’ I ain’t had a speck o’trouble outa him. Not a speck.” The judge tells Deas to shut up and throws him out of court.
(The entire section is 567 words.)
Chapter 20 Summary and Analysis
After visiting with Raymond and finding out that he makes himself out “badder’n” he is already, Dill and Scout rush back into the courthouse. They find that Atticus is finishing up his summary. Atticus talks to the jury as if he were talking to an individual, concluding with the statement, “In the name of God, believe him.” Just as he finishes, Calpurnia makes her way down the center aisle of the courtroom.
Discussion and Analysis
In this chapter we see a side of human nature which lies below the social codes that people are taught. No matter what role people play in society, they are probably similar underneath. Perhaps the rules of society were set up...
(The entire section is 491 words.)
Chapter 21 Summary and Analysis
Calpurnia comes to the courtroom to tell Atticus that the children are missing. The children go home to eat, but Atticus says that they can return to hear the verdict. Late in the night the jury convicts Tom. As Atticus leaves by the center aisle, Scout notices that “All around us and in the balcony on the opposite wall the Negroes were getting to their feet.”
Discussion and Analysis
As the jury breaks to make its decision, the reader and the characters have time to reflect on all that has happened. Many of the themes which have been explored throughout the novel come together here. This is the climax in Atticus’ long struggle. Because of certain laws in...
(The entire section is 375 words.)
Chapter 22 Summary and Analysis
Jem cries angry tears as Atticus, Scout, Jem, and Dill make their way home. Aunt Alexandra is waiting up for them and she tells Atticus, “I’m sorry Brother.” Atticus tells his sister that it is fine that the children experienced the trial because it is as much a part of Maycomb County as her teas. He tells Jem that the thing that happened had happened before and would happen again. Then he asks not to be disturbed the next morning.
On the morning after the trial the Finch family discusses the events of the previous day. Atticus assures the children that there will be an appeal. Calpurnia shows Atticus the chicken that Tom Robinson’s father has given to him, and asks the family to...
(The entire section is 690 words.)
Chapter 23 Summary and Analysis
Atticus, Jem and Scout discuss the trial and Mr. Ewell. Atticus talks with them about the jury system in Maycomb. After Aunt Alexandra forbids Scout to play with Walter Cunningham, Jem shares his secret (a chest hair) with Scout. He also shares his philosophy of the kinds of folks there are in the world. They discuss Old Family and Scout reaches her conclusion: “there’s just one kind of folks: Folks.” Jem has also figured out that Boo stays inside because he wants to do so.
Discussion and Analysis
Chapter 23 shows Scout and Jem trying to figure out the intricate construction of the community that they have been learning so much about lately.
(The entire section is 426 words.)
Chapter 24 Summary and Analysis
Mrs. Grace Merriweather, Mrs. Perkins, and Mrs. Farrow: women in attendance at Aunt Alexandra’s missionary circle meeting.
Chapter 24 describes the women’s missionary circle meeting and the disruptions which occur. Aunt Alexandra has asked Calpurnia and Scout to help with serving at the event. Scout becomes the butt of two jokes. When Scout then asks Mrs. Merriweather about the topic of the meeting, the focus is drawn from Scout for a while. She begins to tell about J. Grimes Everett and his ministry to the Mrunas.
The topic of conversation moves to Tom Robinson and his family. Mrs. Merriweather says that she believes if the white folks...
(The entire section is 902 words.)
Chapter 25 Summary and Analysis
Helen Robinson: Tom’s wife.
Sam and a little girl: Tom and Helen’s children.
When Chapter 25 opens, Scout and Jem are on the back porch. Scout is playing with a roly-poly. Jem orders her not to kill the creature. Scout remembers what Jem had told her about his trip to Mrs. Helen Robinson’s home.
On the way to the Robinson Place, Calpurnia and Atticus pick up Dill and Jem. Since much happens outside while they are still in the car, they are able to tell Scout exactly what happens. Sam goes to get his mother, Helen. When she asks them in, she sees their faces, knows what has happened, and faints. Atticus and Calpurnia stay...
(The entire section is 466 words.)
Chapter 26 Summary and Analysis
Miss Gates: Scout’s third-grade teacher.
Scout is in third grade and Jem is in seventh when this chapter begins. Scout is walking home from school by herself now. She finds that the Radley Place does not hold the terror that it did for her, but she still watches for Mr. Arthur when she passes.
Mrs. Gates uses current events in her third-grade class. On this day the teacher discusses the Jews, Hitler, and the harm that he has done. Scout begins to draw parallels between the Jews and the oppressed in Maycomb. Scout remembers that Miss Gates was talking after the trial about teaching “em a lesson, and how they were getting way above...
(The entire section is 491 words.)
Chapter 27 Summary and Analysis
Ruth Jones: the welfare woman who says Mr. Ewell accused Atticus of getting his job.
Mrs. Crenshaw: the local seamstress.
The Barber sisters: two deaf and elderly women who live together.
Chapter 27 describes three unusual events: Mr. Ewell gets a job and accuses Atticus of causing him to lose it; someone tries to break into Judge Taylor’s house; and when Helen Robinson goes to work for Link Deas, the Ewell family throws rocks at her as she walks past their home. Mr. Deas faces Mr. Ewell down and tells him to leave Helen alone.
Two changes have come to Maycomb. The first change is that the National Recovery Act...
(The entire section is 361 words.)
Chapter 28 Summary and Analysis
Dr. Reynolds: the family physician who examines Jem and Scout after the pageant.
Chapter 28 describes events before, during, and after the pageant. Jem and Scout are frightened by Cecil Jacobs on the way to the Halloween celebration. Scout makes a late entrance on stage during the pageant. The children are attacked by Bob Ewell on the way home, but someone comes to their aid and carries Jem home. Scout follows. Aunt Alexandra calls the doctor who finds that Jem’s arm is broken. Sheriff Tate finds Mr. Ewell lying under the oak with a knife in his chest.
Discussion and Analysis
Chapter 28 shows Ewell sinking to a new...
(The entire section is 290 words.)
Chapter 29 Summary and Analysis
After Aunt Alexandra goes to bed, the sheriff, the doctor, Atticus, and Scout discuss the night’s events. Only after Scout tells the story, does she notice Boo in the corner. She speaks to him face to face for the first time.
Discussion and Analysis
Boo Radley has made the choice to appear in public to save the lives of the Finch children. His fight to remain apart from society has been subjected to his fight for right. Ironically, this is the opposite decision from the one Atticus had to make in defending Tom Robinson. Atticus’ decision to fight for right didn’t draw him into society but rather threatened to cut him off from it. For Boo, entering society is a...
(The entire section is 238 words.)
Chapter 30 Summary and Analysis
Chapter 30 takes place in Jem’s bedroom until Dr. Reynolds appears with a package. Then Boo, Scout, Atticus, and Sheriff Tate go to the porch. Atticus and Sheriff Tate argue about Ewell’s death. Atticus says that Jem killed Ewell, but Tate says that Ewell fell on his knife. At last they all agree to Tate’s story. They decide on this story to protect Boo and to let the dead bury the dead.
Discussion and Analysis
The theme of the mockingbird is prominent in Chapter 30. Scout makes an analogy, or a comparison, between putting Boo on trial and killing a mockingbird; she says: “it’d be sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird, wouldn’t it?”
(The entire section is 316 words.)
Chapter 31 Summary and Analysis
Chapter 31 tells of Boo’s visiting Jem and of Scout’s taking him home. She remembers the past and realizes that they have in effect been Boo’s children through time. She goes to Jem’s room and falls asleep as Atticus reads to her. She knows, as Atticus tucks her in, that he will be there through the night and in the morning.
Discussion and Analysis
The denouement (ending) of To Kill a Mockingbird is a closed, settled one. There is nothing else to be resolved. All the conflicts are ended: Boo is a friend, Ewell is dead, Scout has given in to sleep, and for the moment the family is safe from society and its pressures.
The maturational motif...
(The entire section is 186 words.)