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.
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...
(The entire section is 1279 words.)
To Kill a Mockingbird is at once a powerful indictment of racial injustice and a tender story about growing up. Narrated in the first person by the adult voice of Scout, who is almost six years old when the novel begins, the story weaves together two interrelated plots about life in Maycomb County, Alabama, in the 1930s. One story line involves the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman; the other follows the adventures of Scout, her older brother Jem, and their friend Dill, as they try to investigate the mysterious legend of the eerie Radley Place, which houses a "malevolent phantom" nicknamed Boo Radley. Lee juxtaposes the Innocence and curiosity of the children with the ignorance and hostility of many of the adults, using the character of Atticus Finch—the children's father and a respected attorney who defends Tom Robinson—as a standard of reason, compassion, and fairness. Atticus helps the children leave behind their world of make-believe and come closer to understanding the mystery behind the Radley Place, just as he pushes the town of Maycomb County toward its own confrontation with bigotry and injustice. Combining dry humor with an evocative description of the various social groups, economic problems, and political issues of the time, Lee creates in To Kill a Mockingbird a poignant tale of small town southern life.
(The entire section is 230 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...
(The entire section is 249 words.)
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, Arthur “Boo” Radley, who has been shut up in his house since attacking his father years before. Atticus also points out the difference between superficial manners and the behavior of a real lady, such as the unconventional Miss Maudie Atkinson. Atticus even insists that the children respect the bigoted Mrs. Henry Lafayette Dubose, who must be admired for her battle against addiction. Atticus explains that there are great differences between people of the same class. Though poor, Walter Cunningham is an upright man, while the equally poor Bob Ewell is reprehensible.
In the second part of the novel, Scout and Jem see their father’s principles put to the test. He undertakes to defend a worthy black man, Tom Robinson, who has been...
(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 known as the Scottsboro trials, in which nine young black men were tried on rape charges involving two white women, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates.
In the book, an adult Scout reflects on growing up during the Depression in fictitious Maycomb, Alabama, with her older brother, Jem, and her father, Atticus. Calpurnia, their black maid, has taken care of Scout’s family since her mother died when Scout was two years old. During the three-year span of the novel, Scout and Jem, with Atticus’s guidance, learn about the world around them.
The first section of the novel, which is divided into two parts, begins with the narrator reflecting on the year that her brother’s arm was broken, and she attempts to trace the events that led to...
(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, they complement each other.
The first of these plots is introduced in the first few sentences of the novel, when the narrator says that the story to be told really began when Dill Harris got the idea of getting Arthur (Boo) Radley to come out. The setting is the small town of Maycomb, Alabama; the time is the mid-1930’s. Boo Radley is the neighbor of the Finches. When he was a teenager, he got into minor trouble, and since that time, he has been imprisoned in his home by his father, who is a religious fanatic. Because no one in the community ever sees Boo, much less gets to know him, everyone has come to fear him.
At first, the children share this fear. They dare each other to run up to the house where Boo is...
(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 complained that the novel depicted relations among blacks and whites unfairly by suggesting widespread bigotry by Southern whites. Others argued that the novel presented religion in an unfavorable light.
Most early complaints about the novel came from the South. In Hanover County, Virginia, for example, the local school board attempted to remove the book from county public schools on the grounds of its immorality. When national news coverage focused on the issue, however, the school board tried to dismiss the issue as a misunderstanding.
Meanwhile, attempts to censor the novel spread into the East and Midwest. In 1967 controversy over the novel arose at Lewis S. Mills Regional High School in Unionville, Connecticut. The...
(The entire section is 405 words.)
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird depicts the life of its young narrator, Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama, in the mid-1930s. Scout opens the novel as a grown woman reflecting back on key events in her childhood. The novel covers a two-year period, beginning when Scout is six and ending when she is eight. She lives with her father, Atticus, a widowed lawyer, and her older brother, Jem (short for Jeremy). Their black housekeeper, Calpurnia, tends to the children. Scout and Jem's summer playmate, Dill Harris, shares the Finch children's adventures and adds imagination and intrigue to their game playing. In the novel, we see Scout grow in awareness and come to new understandings about her town, her family, and herself.
Image Pop-UpMap of Maycomb
During the summer before Scout enters school, the children become fascinated with Arthur "Boo" Radley, a reclusive neighbor. Radley's father, a religious fanatic, confined Boo to the house because he was arrested for youthful pranks as a teenager. Some years later, Boo casually stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors, confirming people's worst fears about him. The children are naturally afraid of and intrigued by such a "malevolent phantom," as Scout calls him. Yet they only approach the house...
(The entire section is 1464 words.)
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.
Miss Rachel Haverford: Dill’s aunt with whom Dill is spending the summer.
Scout is the narrator of and a main protagonist in To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout’s real name is Jean Louise Finch, and she is the only daughter of Atticus Finch. She is a very precocious child, but she still has an air of innocence about her. In Chapter 1 she is six, but she is recalling the events of the novel from a later time in her life.
Ten-year-old Jem is the only son of Atticus Finch. Jem was six when his mother died and Scout believes he still misses her badly; but since Jem is at times secretive, Scout cannot be sure. Scout says she reckons time from when 13-year-old Jem broke his arm, but she does not give the...
(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 Mobile Register. Miss Fisher closes the conversation by saying that Atticus does not know how to teach.
Miss Fisher next comes in conflict with Walter Cunningham. She tries to get him to take a quarter to buy his lunch. Scout explains that Walter is a Cunningham who will not take “anything off of anybody,” but Miss Fisher will not listen and spanks her hand. The class does not understand what has happened at first, but when they realize that Scout has been whipped, they begin to laugh. Miss Blount, the sixth-grade teacher, threatens the whole first-grade class because her class cannot concentrate with all the noise in Scout’s class.
As the morning—and the chapter—end, Scout leaves for her lunch and sees...
(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 three pass the Radley Place and a discussion of the fears and superstitions associated with the house ensues. Walter remembers eating pecans supposedly poisoned by Boo Radley and recalls how sick he was.
At home Atticus accepts Walter as an equal; there is no class differentiation in the Finch home. During lunch Calpurnia disciplines Scout for commenting on the way that Walter pours syrup on his food. Even though it means walking past the Radley Place alone on her way back to school, Scout remains behind to advise “Atticus on Calpurnia’s inequities.” Atticus, however, only reminds Scout of the trouble she causes Calpurnia who works so hard for her. Atticus refuses to fire the cook as Scout suggests.
(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.
When Dill arrives for the summer, the children reestablish their friendship. Their conversations are centered around ghosts and superstitions.
On one of their first days of freedom, Jem gives Scout first push in the tire. Scout does not realize that Jem is angry with her until he pushes the tire with all the strength in his body. Dizzy and nauseated, Scout finds herself in front of the Radley house. Hearing the two boys scream loudly, Scout runs for her life and leaves the tire behind. It is Jem who finally retrieves the tire.
Dill invents a new game: Boo Radley. The children dramatize Boo’s story from the bits of gossip and legend they have heard and from their own additions. If Mr. Nathan passes by, they...
(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 rights and dignity of the Radleys and of all people.
Jem and Dill (with Scout looking on) try to send a message to Boo by tying it on a fishing pole and casting it toward his window. Because Dill fails to ring the bell which he is to use at the first sign of anyone approaching, Atticus catches them. Atticus gives them several rules to obey: They are not to play the game he had seen them playing, make fun of others, or go to the Radley Place unless they are invited.
Jem is silent until Atticus is out of hearing. Then he yells that he is not sure that he wants to be a lawyer.
Discussion and Analysis
Once again, in this chapter, we see how an individual who separates himself from...
(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 only way they can explain Jem’s missing trousers is to lie. Dill says that they were playing strip poker. Scout and Jem fear losing the respect of Atticus, and Dill faces the anger of his Aunt Rachel. The judgment of the whole neighborhood is upon them when Jem appears in the crowd without pants and Dill tells his falsehood before the neighbors.
In Chapter 6, for the first time, the children must face their fear of the Radley Place for a more serious reason than to prove their bravery to one another. The danger that Jem faces in retrieving his trousers is no longer ghostly and insubstantial, and in a sense, his bravery is more real as well. This chapter includes a major departure: Jem is the only one of the children to show...
(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 one occasion he was crying as he watched the Radley Place.
Discussion and Analysis
In Chapter 7 the children find themselves pitted against Nathan—not Arthur—Radley. When Nathan fills up the knothole where the children have been finding presents, they are devastated. Their fears and superstitions about Boo Radley are beginning to fade. Their conflict with Nathan Radley is more real to them now. This marks a passing of invented childish fears. Instead of battling ghosts, they are learning the complexities of communicating with real people, as an adult must.
Jem, especially, is showing signs of growing up. He becomes moody and private as he tries to absorb all that he is discovering about the...
(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 shoulders. Atticus tells her that the person was Arthur Radley. The next day Miss Maudie begins to make plans for her new home.
Discussion and Analysis
In this chapter the children discover that most adults also have superstitious beliefs which they rely on to explain events that they don’t understand. Mr. Avery blames the children for the bad weather since he thinks that children disobeying their parents, smoking, and making war on each other will cause the seasons to change. As residents of the town battle an unusual snow fall and later a fire which burns Miss Maudie’s home, they try to find ways to explain these unnatural events. It is a common superstitious belief that unusual or unjust human actions can...
(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.
Atticus’ family meets Uncle Jack at Aunt Alexandra’s for Christmas. Francis, a first cousin-once-removed, tells Scout that Aunt Alexandra says Atticus “let’s you all run wild” and “now he’s turned into a nigger-lover. . . .” Scout splits her knuckle on his teeth and Jack spanks her for fighting. Later, Scout talks to Uncle Jack about his unfairness in spanking her.
That night Scout eavesdrops on the two brothers. She hears Uncle Jack say half in jest that he is afraid to get married for fear he will have children. The chapter concludes with Atticus discussing the upcoming trial with Uncle Jack.
Discussion and Analysis
This chapter marks the beginning of a very difficult time for...
(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 reflects that it is the only time that she ever hears Atticus say it is a sin to do something. He explains that mockingbirds make music. They do not eat up gardens or nest in corncribs. They merely sing for others to enjoy.
Miss Maudie tries to dispel the myth that Atticus is old because she is close to him in age. Even after Miss Maudie explains that Atticus can draw up an air-tight will, play a Jew’s Harp, and beat others at checkers, Scout still wishes he “was a devil from hell.”
When Calpurnia sees the rabid dog and calls both the sheriff and Atticus, it is Atticus who makes the fatal shot. Scout and Jem find out that Atticus was known as “One-Shot Finch.” Their respect for him is increased tremendously....
(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 completed, Mrs. Dubose dies. Mrs. Dubose was a morphine addict. After her death Atticus explains to the two children that they helped distract her and helped her die free of any drug addiction. Atticus explains to the children that continuing even when you know you’re licked is true courage. He says Mrs. Dubose is the bravest person he knows.
Discussion and Analysis
Throughout the difficult weeks in which Atticus had been subjected to so much criticism from the community, Jem had been very careful to control his temper and to advise Scout to do the same. In Chapter 11, he finally snaps. The initial confrontation occurs when Mrs. Dubose hurls insults at the children. Jem returns to her house in a rage and...
(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 children find similarities—and differences—between the church they normally attend and the church to which Calpurnia takes them. On the way home, the children get to know Calpurnia better. They begin to regard her as a fine friend and as a real person with a life separate from her life with them.
This chapter has an open ending. The children find Aunt Alexandra sitting in a rocking chair on their porch when they return from church.
Discussion and Analysis
In Chapter 12 there is a new sense of distance growing between Jem and Scout. Scout tells how Jem has “acquired an alien set of values and was trying to impose them on me.” Scout says that he has “acquired a maddening air...
(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 help of Atticus in teaching the children to value their heritage. Atticus attempts to tell them of their ancestry, but he concludes by saying, “I don’t want you to remember it.” As he leaves the room, he says, “Get more like Cousin Joshua every day, don’t I?”
Discussion and Analysis
In Chapter 13, we see Atticus trying to teach his children their place in society, but we also see that he is very uncomfortable with this task. Atticus tries to obey Alexandra and tell the children about the family, but he feels uncomfortable “bragging” about something over which he has no control. Scout is just as uncomfortable trying to follow Alexandra’s instructions for realizing her place in society....
(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 Atticus has “got a lot on his mind now, without us worrying him.” Jem tells Scout if she antagonizes their aunt, he will spank her. Scout curses Jem and a fight ensues which brings Atticus to separate them. Aunt Alexandra mutters “just one of the things I’ve been telling you about.”
The remark from Aunt Alexandra reunites the two children. When Scout walks to her bed she steps on something which she believes is a snake. When Jem brings a broom they find that Dill has run away from home and is hiding under her bed. The children get him a pan of cornbread and once he’s satisfied his hunger he weaves stories about how he came to Maycomb from Meridian. The children convince him to tell Atticus that he has run away. When Miss...
(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 Atticus’s motives for taking the case. Atticus tells them that he will continue to help Tom and will see that the truth is told in court. At this point the crowd approaches Atticus. Jem breaks the tension by telling him that the phone is ringing.
After a quiet Sunday afternoon, Atticus leaves the house. The three children follow him and find him at the jail, sitting outside with a long extension cord and a light at the end. A mob gathers at the jail just after the children arrive. As the men in the mob move menacingly forward, the children make the presence known. Atticus orders the children to leave, but they refuse. One of the men threatens Jem, and they give Atticus 15 seconds to get the kids out.
Scout defuses a...
(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 drift into sleep, she sees Atticus standing in the middle of an empty street pushing up his glasses. She begins crying, but Jem does not tease her about it.
The next morning appetites are very delicate. Alexandra complains that the children were out late the night before, but Atticus says that he is glad that they had come along. When Aunt Alexandra says that Mr. Underwood was there all the time, Atticus says that it was strange that Underwood was there since “He despises Negroes, won’t have one near him.” Alexandra chastises Atticus for talking “like that in front of them.” Atticus responds that Calpurnia knows how important she is to the family and that he is sure she knows about Mr. Underwood also.
(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 that he is left-handed. Scout comments that this shows that Ewell himself could have beaten Mayella and caused the bruises on the right side of her face, but she cautions Jem and the reader not to count their chickens before they are hatched.
Discussion and Analysis
This chapter is very tense as witnesses are questioned. The reader senses the conflict and knows a life is at stake. At one point Atticus argues with Mr. Gilmer. The tension increases when Mr. Ewell testifies. He seems to be careful as he speaks so that he will not be caught in a lie. He seems to have trouble understanding Atticus’s questions at many points. One wonders if he might be wrestling with his conscience, but such a struggle does not...
(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 it, but he did take advantage of her. Atticus has Tom stand and asks Mayella to identify him. It is then that the full court can see that Tom has a bad arm.
Atticus concludes his questioning by asking Mayella if Tom or Mr. Ewell was the one who beat her. He asks what Mr. Ewell really saw in the window. Mayella does not answer. Finally Mayella says she has something to add. Her final words are, “That nigger yonder took advantage of me an’ if you fine fancy gentlemen don’t wanta do nothin’ about it then you’re all yellow stinkin’ cowards, the lot of you.”
Atticus says that he has one more witness and the chapter concludes.
Discussion and Analysis
Mayella’s testimony is...
(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.
Mr. Gilmer cross-examines Tom. During the questioning Tom says that he helped Mayella because he felt sorry for her. Scout believes these words are a mistake. Mr. Gilmer calls Tom “boy” each time he addresses him. Suddenly Dill begins to cry and Scout leaves with him. Outside the courtroom they see Mr. Deas. Dill tries to explain that things do not seem right in the courtroom. Mr. Raymond, who is also waiting outside the courtroom, overhears Dill and approaches to talk with the children.
Discussion and Analysis
Tom’s testimony and cross-examination is difficult on many levels. Mr. Gilmer adopts an air of hostility against Tom to capitalize on the prejudice already felt against him. This hostility is so strong...
(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 initially to hide these feelings. Atticus reminds the entire courtroom of the evil side of human nature which everyone faces: the tendency to lie, to do immoral things, and to look with desire on others.
Atticus tries to appeal to the humanity and morality of the jury when he reminds them to do its duty and return Tom Robinson to his home. The jury has a difficult decision to make. Many are fighting their consciences as they determine to convict Tom.
Society in Maycomb involves a caste/racial bias; this bias is evident in the “assumption—the evil assumption—that all Negroes lie. . . .” There is a sex bias in the society of Maycomb; most people in the South put the women on a pedestal. Mayella goes against the...
(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 Maycomb society regarding rape and race, the jury’s verdict will undoubtedly be against Tom Robinson. Atticus’ action despite the predetermined result helps him to epitomize bravery. We know that the jury is torn as they cast their votes. They have to choose between what they know is right and what society has taught them to believe.
In Chapter 21 the fulfillment of the mockingbird theme comes to pass. Tom is convicted—but because of his color and not of his guilt. Atticus, who has struggled hard to help Tom, loses the case. The feelings that Scout has in waiting for the decision remind her of a cold morning when the mockingbirds were not singing, a foreshadowing of what is to come.
In Chapter 21
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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 go into the kitchen to see the gifts from the community. Atticus wipes his eyes and instructs Calpurnia to tell the friends that times are too hard for them ever to do this again.
The children talk with Miss Maudie later in the morning. Miss Stephanie comes over with her questions and her opinions. Miss Maudie tells her to hush and takes the children inside for cake. She allows Jem to talk about the trial and then gives them some information. She tells them that Judge Taylor named Atticus to defend Tom Robinson for his own reasons. She explained that he could have named Maxwell Green, Maycomb’s newest lawyer and one who needed experience.
When the children go outside with Miss Maudie, they see Miss Stephanie and Mr....
(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 lesson Scout receives in this chapter proves to be extremely upsetting to her. Alexandra refuses to allow her to invite Walter Cunningham to their home. When Alexandra calls Walter “trash,” Scout loses control and Jem leads her sobbing to her room. Scout resists the idea that people are expected to act differently due to their class as strongly as she resists learning behavior that she is expected to adopt because she’s female. Jem explains that Aunty is “trying to make you a lady.”
Once again the Ewells prove how dangerous ignorance can be. Their prejudice is sweeping, they “hate and despise the colored folk.” And now they feel the same about Atticus for making them appear foolish. Bob Ewell responds by making crude...
(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 can forgive that “darky’s wife,” things will blow over in Maycomb.
Mrs. Farrow says that she believes “no lady is safe in her bed these nights.” Mrs. Farrow says that she has shared that information with Mr. Hutson and he agrees with her.
Mrs. Merriweather criticizes the good but misguided people who thought they were doing right “but all they did was stir ’em up.” She begins to complain about Sophy, her maid. Mrs. Merriweather says that the only reason she keeps Sophy as an employee is because the depression is on and Sophy needs the $1.25 per week that she pays her. Miss Maudie remarks that Mr. Merriweather does not have trouble eating the food that Sophy cooks. Mrs. Merriweather claims not to...
(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 inside a long time.
Mr. Underwood writes a bitter editorial in the Maycomb Tribune, comparing Tom’s death to the “senseless slaughter of songbirds.”
The chapter concludes with Ewell’s remarks about the death of Tom Robinson: “it made one down and about two more to go.”
Discussion and Analysis
Chapter 25 proves that Maycomb’s difficult time did not end with the trial. Tom’s death almost seems to prove that it is impossible to oppose or to change the unwritten laws of society—no matter how unjust or dangerous they may be. Mr. Underwood shows great bravery and emphasizes this theme when he does not hesitate to write angrily in his paper about the injustices...
(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 themselves, and the next thing they will think they can marry us.” When she asks Jem about it, he says he never wants to hear about that courthouse again. Atticus tells her that Jem thinks he is trying to forget something, but he is actually storing it to think about later.
Discussion and Analysis
In Chapter 26, Scout is once again pitted against her teacher as she recognizes her hypocrisy. With a childish clarity of vision, Scout recognizes injustice, but she is confused by the way people cover this up. She goes to Jem to try to understand it all, but he becomes angry and will not discuss it with her. Atticus explains that Jem is trying to forget, but he is actually storing it in his mind until he can sort it...
(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 signs are being removed from the stores. The second change is that Halloween will be an organized affair because of the pranks played on the Barber sisters last year. Scout will be a ham in this year’s pageant and will be escorted to the event by her brother.
Discussion and Analysis
In Chapter 27, Bob Ewell makes a futile attempt to become part of the Maycomb community. This is viewed as unnatural and has turbulent results. He loses the job and blames Atticus, although Atticus has nothing to do with it. Ewell also continues to punish those he feels are responsible for his humiliation by breaking into Judge Taylor’s house.
Ewell’s cowardly attempts to revenge are extended even to Robinson’s...
(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 low in his desperate attempts for revenge. Because he lives outside of society, he cannot utilize the law. Because of his ignorance, he cannot engage Atticus in rational discussion. Instead, he strikes out at those whom Atticus cares about the most—his innocent and vulnerable children.
Harper Lee uses a false climax in her writing. On the way to the pageant, the children are frightened by someone. The reader expects danger but it turns out to be only Cecil Jacobs, a boy in Scout’s class.
The theme of ghosts and the supernatural is evident from the beginning of the chapter. The first lines refer to the Radley Place and Halloween—with no moon. Harper Lee—through Scout—describes the scary walk to the high...
(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 powerful act of bravery.
Stylistic devices continue to be evident in Lee’s writing. Aunt Alexandra makes mention again of the foreshadowing she had of the attack. “I had a feeling about this tonight—I—this is my fault. . . .” Mr. Tate’s response is a simile: “why, if we followed our feelings all the time we’d be like cats chasin’ their tails.” Scout’s description of Boo is a hyperbole (exaggeration): “hands that had never seen the sun. . . .” Harper Lee uses imagery in her writing when she describes Boo Radley. At last the reader has an accurate mental image of this recluse, with his white face, his hollow cheeks, and his colorless, gray eyes.
(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?”
In Chapter 30 we see that perhaps the best way to decide the fate of someone who has always separated himself from society is without the regular societal procedures. It would be possible for Atticus and Heck Tate to have another trial to determine the cause of Bob Ewell’s death. Calling in the law would certainly be the conventional legal method. They choose to rely on a different form of justice, however.
Mr. Tate and Atticus know that Boo does not stand a chance against the community. One man is already dead because of Ewell. By his “investigation” of Ewell’s death, Mr. Tate tries to make amends for his earlier mistakes which cost Tom his life. Atticus protects Boo by not making him appear in court. The reader sees Atticus...
(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 is evident again when Scout says that “there wasn’t much else left for us to learn, except possibly algebra.” Scout has matured and has learned to stand in others' shoes. The repetition of a statement by Atticus is important here: “you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes.” This statement serves to weave Part One and Part Two together.
(The entire section is 186 words.)
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