How does Scout learn about Helen's reaction to the news of her husband's death in To Kill a Mockingbird?
Scout reveals the specifics about Helen Robinson's reaction to her husband's death in a retrospective narrative following a conversation she has had with Dill. Dill has already left Maycomb for his home in Meridian, and Scout is naturally thinking about him.
He was not out of mind: I missed him. (Chapter 25)
Dill and Jem had been skinny-dipping at Barker's Eddy--Jem had finally taught Dill to swim--and the two boys were returning home when Atticus passed them on the road. Atticus was on his way to Helen's, and he agreed to take the boys along if they promised to stay in the car. From his view inside the car, Dill saw the scene unfold: Atticus didn't even have to tell Helen what had happened;
"... she just fell down in the dirt... like a giant with a big foot just came along and stepped on her. Just ump--" Dill's fat foot hit the ground. "Like you'd step on an ant." (Chapter 25)
In chapter 25 of To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout is recalling the conversation she had with Dill. Dill and Jem had been with Atticus and Calpurnia when Atticus went to tell Helen what had happened to Tom. The two boys had been swimming, since Jem had just taught Dill how to swim, and they saw Atticus drive by and wanted to go along with him. Atticus agreed to let the two boys ride along. Tom had been killed while trying to escape from prison. Atticus brought Calpurnia along with him, to be a kind of support for Helen. Helen was about to hear some of the worst news of her life. Dill tells Scout what he saw.
"Scout," said Dill, "she just fell down in the dirt. Just fell down in the dirt, like a giant with a big foot came along and stepped on her. Just ump-" Dill's fat foot hit the ground. "Like you'd step on an ant."
The beginning of the chapter starts with Jem and Scout still sleeping on the porch, even though it is September. Scout is playing with a roly poly bug and when she gets ready to squash it, Jem stops her from doing so. Jem has grown and matured so much during these chapters and the sight of Helen falling to the ground has impacted him. Scout is still young and doesn't quite understand the impact of what has happened, but she will soon learn the full impact of the danger they are all in.