To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
Start Your Free Trial

How did Scout's mother die in To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,217 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In chapter 1, Scout describes the town of Maycomb and gives the reader background knowledge of her upbringing. After Scout describes Calpurnia, she mentions that her mother died when she was two years old. Scout proceeds to explain that her mother was a Graham from Montgomery and met Atticus when he was first elected to the state legislature. Scout then mentions that her parents had Jem during their first year of marriage and had her four years later. Unfortunately, Scout's mother passed away from a sudden heart attack when Scout was two years old.

Scout mentions that she doesn't remember her mother but is aware that Jem misses her. According to Scout, Jem would think about her in the middle of playing a game and would sigh for an extended period of time before leaving to play by himself. Harper Lee does not go into detail about Jem and Scout's mother, but Mrs. Dubose mentions that she was the loveliest lady that ever lived and thinks that it is a shame that Atticus never remarried.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Dorothea Tolbert eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write992 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Scout's mother died suddenly when Scout and Jem were very young. Scout was only two at the time, and she could not even remember her mother clearly. Although she could not remember her mother, Scout heard from Mrs. Dubose, a neighbor, that she was a lovely lady. Scout and Jem's mother "died from a sudden heart attack" (Chapter 1).  A heart condition was hereditary in their mother's family.

In the absence of Scout's mother, Calpurnia became a mother-like figure for the Finch children. She tended to the housework and watched over the children when their father was not at home. She was hired to work in the Finch home, but she was treated almost like family. Calpurnia guided independent Scout with "gentle grumblings of general disapproval" (Chapter 10). Scout sometimes resented how strict Calpurnia was, but she appreciated the motherly love she received from the woman.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial