How appropriate is the authors choice for the end of the novel. Why or why not would you like to change it?(with specific characters/events, pls) i have my opinions but i am so confused. I trust...

How appropriate is the authors choice for the end of the novel. Why or why not would you like to change it?

(with specific characters/events, pls)

i have my opinions but i am so confused. I trust enotes professors ONLY!!!

Thanks!

Asked on by breadline

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jblederman's profile pic

jblederman | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted on

Lee's choice to end the novel with Atticus watching over Jem is fitting but also ironic. Atticus receives little criticism as a character, being almost the "perfect" father. Yet, if you think about it:

Bob Ewell threatened Helen Robinson and Heck Tate. He spit in Atticus' face and blamed Atticus for making him the embarassment of Maycomb, ruining whatever reputation his family had left. He also blamed Atticus for costing him his job.

YET, Atticus allows Jem and Scout to walk unattended to and from school at night for the holiday pageant. Atticus' reason for this? He was too tired to go and watch his daughter perform, and he never truly believed that Bob Ewell would attack his family.

Huh?

Had Atticus been the perfect father that he was made out to be, it very well may have been he who died at the end of the novel.

Specifics:

Atticus does, in fact, go with his children to the pageant. Ewell still attacks with the knife. Atticus, being older and not having expected so vicious an assault, cannot stand up to Ewell, who kills him with the knife as the children run away. The deus ex machina of Scout being stuck in the ham costume never happens, so she is free to run as well.

Then, Boo Radley can still be the hero of the novel. he emerges, struggles with Ewell, kills him, and saves the lives of the children.

Tate still covers up the real events behind the killing. The children are forced to live with Aunt Alexandra.

clairewait's profile pic

clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The ending is perfect because it is the catalyst for the entire story.  The opening line of the novel is:

When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broke at the elbow.

I think almost every child has a similar "war wound" story in life - and many involve a broken bone of some sort.  I love that Lee chose the broken arm as the memory trigger of a series of events that were so much bigger than a broken arm.  It is as if the scar that prevents Jem from playing football in the future is directly tied to Maycomb (and Finch family) history.

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