In Chapter 27 of To Kill a Mockingbird, what comic incident is related and what function does it serve in the novel?

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Perhaps the most unusual citizens in town, the Misses Tutti and Frutti were a pair of unmarried sisters who "lived together in the only Maycomb residence boasting a cellar." The Barber sisters--Sarah and Frances--were yet another pair of quirky female characters created by author Harper Lee. The maiden ladies are considered outsiders by most of Maycomb: Born in northern Alabama, the ladies were both deaf, and their "Yankee ways" included being Republicans and digging a cellar for their house--"why they wanted a cellar nobody knew." Misses Tutti and Frutti were involved in a comic incident the previous Halloween, though the townspeople hardly considered it humorous. A group of school children sneaked into the Barber house one night and hid all of the living room furniture in the basement. "Syrians" were blamed. "Da-rk they were," Miss Tutti claimed, and it was believed that the thieves were already "in New Orleans by now." Sheriff Tate used bloodhounds to search for the culprits, and after the dogs circled the Barber house several times, Heck guessed the truth. The story serves several purposes. It is the primary reason why Maycomb's next Halloween was scaled down and the pageant was being held at the school, giving Jem and Scout their excuse to walk to and from the school that night. In addition to injecting a bit of humor into the story before the tragic events of Chapter 28, it also allows Harper Lee to introduce another pair of unusual female characters while further developing her theme of prejudice against social outcasts or outsiders.  

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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