In Chapter 31, comment on the way the author summarizes earlier events to show their significance.

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rareynolds eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The “summary” in Chapter 31 of key events in the book can be thought of as a way of recapitulating, in conclusion, the main points Lee has made in her text. I have to think, however, that there is more to this section than a simple summing up. If we understand the novel as an account of Scout’s passage into adulthood, then much of the chapter is concerned with showing how the “adult” Scout now behaves. One telling example is her reaction to Boo’s request that she walk him home; she says that she “would never lead him home” and instead offers him her arm, so that onlookers will think he is escorting her, not the other way around. It is after this last trip to the Radley house that Scout reflects on the events of the past year. She sees it all unfold in third person, as if Scout has suddenly grown much older, and is looking back across many years at the events of the book, now strangely distant. She is, in effect, reliving the events not from her perspective, but from a more omniscient one. Atticus and Scout and Jem become “a man” and “his children”; their actions lose their specificity and are reduced to their essence (“Winter, and a man walked into the street, dropped his glasses, and shot a dog. Summer, and he watched his children’s heart break. Autumn again, and Boo’s children needed him.”) Seen at a remove, the truth of things becomes clear to the adult Scout: “Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.”

gbeatty eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Well, the first way Lee summarizes earlier events is briefly. The entire chapter is only a few pages long, and the summaries don't take up much of that. Second, Lee does so by having Scout review (and re-view—re-see) those events in light of what Boo had done for her before saving her. The result (and third way) is that she reaches a conclusion about the events' meaning. Before the actions had been mysteries; now they clearly mean friendship.

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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