How is the feeling of apprehension conveyed at the end of Chapter 25?
By the time Chapter 25 of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird comes to a close, the reader is well-acquainted with the characters, especially with Bob Ewell. Ewell, of course, is the virulently racist and perpetually inebriated man who forces his daughter Mayella to accuse Tom Robinson, an equally poor and physically disabled African American man, of rape. While Tom is convicted following his trial despite considerable evidence pointing to his innocence, as well as Mayella’s questionable honesty on the witness stand, and while Tom is now dead, having been shot trying to escape prison, Ewell remains a threatening presence in the town of Maycomb.
For much of the previous chapter and the current one, Lee’s young narrator, Scout, describes the experience of living with her aunt, Alexandra, who is determined to feminize the young tomboy irrespective of Scout’s wishes. Scout and Jem, meanwhile, go about the business of childhood, playing with insects and enjoying the warm September day. As Chapter 25 comes to an end, however, the story takes a decidedly negative tone. The menacing figure of Bob Ewell reenters the narrative. It is an abrupt shift. Scout describes the aftermath of Tom’s death, including the editorial published in the town newspaper that decried the injustice of Robinson’s conviction. Then, Scout raises concerns about Ewell:
“The name Ewell gave me a queasy feeling. Maycomb had lost no time in getting Mr. Ewell’s views on Tom’s demise and passing them along through that English Channel of gossip, Miss Stephanie Crawford. Miss Stephanie told Aunt Alexandra in Jem’s presence (“Oh foot, he’s old enough to listen.”) that Mr. Ewell said it made one down and about two more to go. Jem told me not to be afraid, Mr. Ewell was more hot gas than anything. Jem also told me that if I breathed a word to Atticus, if in any way I let Atticus know I knew, Jem would personally never speak to me again.”
The sense of foreboding that develops with the above end of Chapter 25 is a prelude to the climactic scene that occurs later in the novel when Jem and Scout are physically attacked by Ewell. The reader does not know how the plot involving Bob Ewell will develop, but the feeling of apprehension has been established.
At the end of Chapter 25, Scout mentions that the name Ewell gave her a "queasy feeling" and shares the menacing threat from Bob Ewell that Miss Stephanie apparently heard. Jem overheard Miss Stephanie telling Aunt Alexandra that after Tom died, "Mr. Ewell said it made one down and about two more to go" (Lee 147). As was mentioned in the previous post, Harper Lee builds suspense and apprehension by foreshadowing Bob's attack. Scout's pervading sense of fear and danger also creates an ominous atmosphere at the end of the chapter. Bob Ewell's menacing threat suggests that he will attempt to murder at least two characters. However, the reader is unaware that Bob will attempt to murder Jem and Scout. The reader realizes that there are several characters who could be the targets of Bob Ewell's hate but is unsure what two characters he will choose to go after. Unfortunately, Bob Ewell attempts to murder two innocent children.
This chapter ends with the menacing remarks of Bob Ewell, "...one down and about two more to go." These remarks by Ewell foreshadow his attack on Jem and Scout. Most people of the town feel that Tom Robinson's death has ended this very difficult time in Maycomb, but Bob Ewell lets us know that it isn't over yet. We feel a sense of dread, knowing that what Bob has in store for Atticus and his family isn't going to be good.