Jem gallantly walks Scout to the pageant as they cross the school yard. They discuss Boo and comment, "Haints, hot steams... vanish with our years."
Above them a mockingbird sings. What is the effect of all these details on the reader? Chapter 27/ To Kill a Mockingbird. Thank you!
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To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee's bildungsroman, or novel of maturation, has neared its conclusion. The children now have put away the things of a child such as the superstitious belief in "haints," and their fixation with Boo Radley; Jem considers himself too old for Halloween, as well. As the symbol of innocence, the mockingbird sings, the reader becomes aware of the changes that have been effected in Jem and his sister Scout, who later recounts, "There wasn't much else left for us to learn, except possibly algebra."
Nevertheless, there is an atmosphere of foreboding with the cries of the mockingbirds. and the news that Bob Ewell has become a threat to poor Helen Robinson, walking behind her, "crooning foul words." After she telephones Mr. Link Deas, the store manger tell Ewell to stop leaning on his fence and get away. This encounter further fuels the fire of resentment in Ewell, a resentment that he aims toward Atticus Finch, foreshadowing what occurs to Scout and Jem.
Harper Lee successfully creates a spooky atmosphere for the children as they walk to the pageant. The children talk of "Haints, Hot Steams, incantations, secret signs," but they acknowledge that these are from their younger and more innocent past. They both put on a brave face as they walk in the darkness, but passing the Radley place only reminds them of their past fears. When Scout recites "Angel bright, life-in-death; get of the road, don't suck my breath," Jem tells her to "Cut it out, now." The pitch blackness causes Scout to trip on a root and they "slowed to a cautious gait." When Cecil Jacobs jumps out and scares them, Scout admits that it "had given us a fright." But Cecil's presence and his insistence that the school is just "around the corner" eases their tensions--at least until they begin their return home.
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