How does Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird end?

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sciftw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The final chapter of To Kill a Mockingbird begins with Scout taking Boo Radley up to Jem's room to say a silent goodbye to Jem.  Scout tells readers that she was getting good at reading Boo's "body English," so she could tell when he was ready to leave.  She leads him downstairs, and Boo asks Scout to take him home.  

I led him to the front porch, where his uneasy steps halted. He was still holding my hand and he gave no sign of letting me go.

“Will you take me home?”

He almost whispered it, in the voice of a child afraid of the dark.

She and Boo walk arm in arm from the Finch house to the Radley house, and Scout is proud of being escorted along the way. 

I slipped my hand into the crook of his arm.

He had to stoop a little to accommodate me, but if Miss Stephanie Crawford was watching from her upstairs window, she would see Arthur Radley escorting me down the sidewalk, as any gentleman would do.

Scout and Boo arrive at his front door, and he heads inside.  Scout tells readers that is the last time she ever saw him. As she turns around to head home, Scout sees the neighborhood in a new light.  She realizes that Atticus was right about standing in someone else's shoes and walking around in them. 

Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough.

Scout then makes her way home through the rain.  Everybody in the house is asleep except for Atticus.  He is silently reading a book in Jem's room. Scout asks Atticus to read it aloud to her, and she quickly falls asleep.  

I willed myself to stay awake, but the rain was so soft and the room was so warm and his voice was so deep and his knee was so snug that I slept.

Atticus then leads a half sleeping Scout into her room for bed.  Scout sleepily narrates about the parts of the story that she heard before falling completely asleep.  She ends by saying that when the people finally saw the Stoner's Boy, they realized that "he was real nice."  

Atticus responds by saying, “Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them.”  It's a great quote because it applies to the story he was reading, and it applies to Boo Radley as well.  The chapter ends with Atticus returning to Jem's room where he will remain the entire night. 

 

Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Events in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird do not end happily for all, but they do end satisfactorily. By Chapter 24, after Tom Robinson is declared guilty and sentenced to execution by the jury, we learn that Tom Robinson decided to try to escape from federal prison and was shot and killed by the security guards. We also know Bob Ewell blames Atticus for any bad reputation he has and that he especially blames Atticus because Bob recently lost a job as soon as he was hired. All throughout, Lee foreshadows Bob's desire for revenge.

By Chapter 28, Scout participates in a Halloween pageant dressed as a ham. On the way home, she and Jem get the sense they are being followed but think it's only their friend Cecil Jacobs. They are instead attacked by a heavy man. Then, a mysterious man carries Jem into the children's home, with Scout following. Their attacker turns out to be Bob Ewell, and attacking Atticus's children turned out to be Ewell's idea of revenge. Also, the mysterious man who rescued the children turns out to be Boo Radley.

While the ending is not happy for the Robinsons, it is satisfying due to all that Scout learned throughout the book, particularly with respect to learning to accept all people, that "there's just one kind of folk. Folks." (Ch. 23) As Scout reflects after walking Boo Radley home, "Jem and I would get grown but there wasn't much else left for us to learn, except possibly algebra" (Ch. 31).

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To Kill a Mockingbird

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