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

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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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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