Contrast the building of the two major climaxes of To Kill a Mockingbird (the trial verdict and the trip home from the halloween pageant).

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In both climaxes, the two mockingbirds of Harper's Lee's novel become the focal point.  However, in the trial of Tom Robinson, which precedes the halloween pageant, the mockingbird who has tried to help Mayella Ewell is destroyed; "the common disease of Maycomb" wins out and the jury refuses to weigh the facts and the testimony of the witnesses. With the sin of prejudice committed, Tom despairs and hangs himself.  In the second climax, as Scout and Jem are attacked, the other mockingbird of the novel, Boo Radley, like Tom Robinson, risks his safety and rescues the children.  In the ensuing struggle, he kills Bob Ewell, who is responsible for the death of the first mockingbird.  However, no "disease of Maycomb"--a superstitious belief in this case rather than racial prejudice--against Boo Radley is exerted; instead, Boo, the mockingbird, is protected and the Sherriff claims that Ewell fell on his knife, for he knows that "it is a sin to kill a mockingbird":

...draggin' him with his shy ways into the limelight--to me, that a sin.  It's a sin and I'm not about to have it on my head.  If it was any other man, it would be different.

Thus the novel ends with the townspeople having learned "the hard way" the lesson of Tom Robinson's trial and the moral Atticus Finch has taught his children in Chapter 10:  "It is a sin to kill a mockingbird."


mkcapen1 | Student

The trial has caused a tremendous amount of anticipation among the townspeople.  The black people are gathered in the top of the court room.  The white people sit in their section.  The courtroom is packed to the rim.  Yet, despite so many people there is no sound.  Scout and Jem sit patiently along with the people .  They are waiting.  The children are sure their Atticus has proven that Tom Robinson is innocent of beating and raping the Ewell girl.  A clock strikes eight times.  The clock strikes eleven times.  The night is hot.  Scout shivers.  Outside the street is empty.  The people are all waiting in the courtroom.  It is a hot summer night but it is as cold as winter. (It serves as an omen.)  Then, as if in a dream the jury returns.  The jury does not look at the defendant when they convict him.  The jury is not looking at Tom Robinson.  The paper with the verdict is passed to the judge.  GUILTY!  GUILTY!  GUILTY!  The black people stood up out of respect to Atticus.

The children have stayed after school because Scout embarrassed herself during the play.  She had not been paying attention and when it was her turn to say her part she had to be called on.  She was so embarrassed she asked Jem to wait with her until everyone left.  They wait until the parking lot is empty.  Unlike the courtroom there are no people in sight.  Scout is wearing a ham costume that makes walking difficult.  It is an October night.  The weather is warm for the time of year.  The wind is blowing strong.  Scout has no shoes on as she had left them at the now locked auditorium.  They are walking and hear a noise but they think it is Scout’s costume.  They become aware someone or something is following them.  Scout visibility is blocked by her costume.  Scout asks Jem if he is afraid.  They are alone except for the presence that is following them. They can hear the presence shuffle and drag his feet.  They hear the thing running towards them.  RUN!  RUN!  RUN! (The three words are repeated just like the words Guilty! Guilty! Guilty,! had been repeated at Tom’s hearing.  Scout falls and the wire in her costume is crushing her.  She is trapped by the chicken wire of her costume.  Someone rolls against her.  She sees Jem get up fast and trying to pull her.  They run but don’t get far.  They hear a violent cough.  A man is breathing heavily.  He groans. Scout knows there are four people present; she and Jem and two others.  The man is moving towards them.  She touches someone and smells whiskey.  She sees man moving across the road carrying someone.  She moves along the road.  She is no longer with Jem.  The man carried Jem to the house.  Scout runs to the house.



Hope is present as the children think that Tom will be found innocent.

The night is warm but it feels very cold.

The children are surrounded by people who care about them and respect their father.

The scene is dream like.

Despite the large crowd od people there is no sound.

Everything happens at a slow pace.

Halloween Night/Walk Home

The children are alone.

There is a feeling of fear in the children.

They are being followed by an entity that hates their father and wishes to harm them.

The children hear noises in the night.

Everything happens quickly.


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To Kill a Mockingbird

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