How does Lee create tension and suspense in chapter 26 ?Setting , Dialogue used , use of verbs

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lynnebh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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1.  Setting - It is the beginning of a new school year, and Scout and Jem start passing by Boo Radley's house again, creating suspense. Some of this chapter takes place in the school where a current event article prompts a discussion of Hitler hating the Jews. Scout becomes confused because Miss Gates criticizes Hitler for hating the Jews but Scout remembers her racist comments about blacks outside of the courthouse after the trial. The setting here creates suspense and tension because it is foreboding. One gets the sense that additional evil events will soon take place in the novel.

2.  Dialogue - We see that the Radley place still fascinates Scout and we see Atticus warning her to "stop the nonsense" regarding the Radleys. This creates suspense because again, we can sense the author using foreshadowing to hint at future events.

"The Radley Place had ceased to terrify me, but it was no less gloomy, no less chilly under its great oaks, and no less uninviting. Mr. Nathan Radley could still be seen on a clear day, walking to and from town; we knew Boo was there, for the same old reason-nobody'd seen him carried out yet."

"Besides, it's dangerous. You might get shot. You know Mr. Nathan shoots at every shadow he sees, even shadows that leave size-four bare footprints. You were lucky not to be killed."

3.  Note the use of the verbs in the above quoted text: "terrify", "shoots", "killed". These are strong action verbs which create tension and suspense. Nathan Radley might very well shoot the children! Also, the novel is told in first person narrative by Scout, adding to the realism and suspense because the events really happened and Scout was there.

You mention verbs, but also pay attention to the author's use of adjectives and adverbs to create suspense. I am not sure but this, too, may be part of your assignment.

This should get you started. Read the dialogue carefully and look for "action" verbs. See the analysis right here on enotes.

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