Chapter 8 of To Kill a Mockingbird is a pivotal chapter because of the foreshadowing by Harper Lee that something isn't right in Maycomb. An unusual winter storm comes in and temperatures drop. Scout comments that Maycomb is experiencing the worst weather since 1885. "Bad" children are blamed for the sudden cold snap by the superstitious Mr. Avery. Although the day starts out as a fun day with a warm atmosphere of joy when Scout and Jem build a snowman, the mood of the story quickly changes when it starts to get dark. Calpurnia lights all of the fireplaces in the house in hopes of getting rid of the chill; however, the cold remains in the home. The joyful mood of the day is lost, and the people of Maycomb are left wondering what the storm may predict.
This sudden change of weather is a technique that Harper Lee uses to build suspense in the novel. As readers, this foreshadowing can be mean that something ominously bad is going to happen, or that Maycomb may never be the same again. The sleepy, dusty town described at the beginning of the novel is beginning to change, and perhaps the change in weather symbolically shows this. We know that the town will go through an upheaval with the trial of Jim Robinson and the attack of the children by Bob Ewell. Chapter 8 sets up a foreboding, suspenseful atmosphere, and the rest of the novel takes on a darker mood after the unexpected storm.