To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

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Foreshadowing In To Kill A Mockingbird

Cite examples of foreshadowing in To Kill a Mockingbird  about Bob Ewell's eventual attack on the chidren?


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In chapter 23, Aunt Alexandra warns Atticus that Bob Ewell is the type of individual to hold a grudge, when Atticus mentions that they have nothing to fear. Alexandra says, 

"I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Atticus . . . His kind’d do anything to pay off a grudge. You know how those people are." (Lee, 222)

At the beginning of chapter 27, Scout mentions that three small things have happened that were out of the ordinary and involved Bob Ewell. Scout mentions,

"Ruth Jones, the welfare lady, said Mr. Ewell openly accused Atticus of getting his job. She was upset enough to walk down to Atticus’s office and tell him about it." (252)

Scout then proceeds to explain how Bob Ewell attempted to break into Judge Taylor's home and harassed Helen Robinson. Bob's actions indicate that he still resents those involved in the court case and is holding onto his grudge, which foreshadows his attack. 

At the end of chapter 27, Scout mentions that Jem is going to walk her to Maycomb's Halloween festival at the school and says, "Thus began our longest journey together" (257). Her statement foreshadows that something dramatic will take place on their walk to or from the Halloween festival.

In chapter 28, Lee sets the ominous mood by describing the quiet, dark autumn night. She foreshadows Bob's attack and Boo Radley's presence by symbolically mentioning the calls of a mockingbird and bluejay. Symbolically, Boo Radley is represented by the mockingbird while Bob Ewell is represented by the bluejay throughout the novel. As the children walk towards the school, Scout says, 

"High above us in the darkness a solitary mocker poured out his repertoire in blissful unawareness of whose tree he sat in, plunging from the shrill kee, kee of the sunflower bird to the irascible qua-ack of a bluejay, to the sad lament of Poor Will, Poor Will, Poor Will." (256)

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Bob Ewell's despicable attack on the Finch children is foreshadowed on several occasions by author Harper Lee during the preceding chapters of To Kill a Mockingbird

  • The first example comes on the very first page of the novel, when Scout's narration first introduces Jem's broken elbow and her comment that "the Ewells started it all."
  • Atticus hints at Bob's abuse toward children in Chapter 3 when he tells Scout how the Ewell children are "crying from hunger pains." Atticus tells Scout that Bob will never change. "Are you going to take out your disapproval on his children?"
  • Bob's threat become more direct when he spits in Atticus' face and "told him he'd get him if it took the rest of his life." (Chapters 22-23)
  • In Chapter 23, Atticus tries to calm Alexandra and the children by telling them that Bob "got it all out of his system" when he spit in Atticus' face. However, Alexandra's foreboding answer was that "I wouldn't be so sure of that... His kind'd do anything to pay off a grudge."
  • According to Miss Stephanie, after Tom Robinson's death, Bob Ewell "said it made one down and about two more to go." (Chapter 25)
  • Aunt Alexandra's Halloween premonition that "somebody just walked over my grave" foreshadowed the later events of the night. (Chapter 27)
  • The first part of Chapter 28 hints at the evil that will follow. After the pageant, Jem and Scout turn down a ride home, deciding to make their ill-fated walk instead. "Be careful of haints," the driver warns. "It's just a little walk," Jem said.