In To Kill a Mockingbird, Heck Tate says: “There’s a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for its dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. Let the dead bury the...

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Heck Tate says: “There’s a black boy dead for no reason, and the man responsible for its dead. Let the dead bury the dead this time, Mr. Finch. Let the dead bury the dead.” What does he mean?

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mrwickline | High School Teacher | In Training Educator

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Sheriff Tate’s expression of “let the dead bury the dead” is another way of saying “put this matter to rest.” In hopes of returning Maycomb back to its normal, everyday routine, Sheriff Tate attempts to avoid more controversy by telling the public Bob Ewell fell on his own knife. Tate says that he’s already seen an innocent black man dead for no reason, and the man responsible for it is dead. (30.369) Mr. Tate says it would be a sin to take Boo Radley and his “shy ways” and force him into the limelight by telling the town what exactly happened. He admits to Atticus that he “may not be much,” referring to errors he’s made in past decisions regarding racial affairs, but feels that he is doing right thing protecting Boo Radley. By letting the dead bury the dead, the controversial events and emotional wounds surrounding the Tom Robinson case will have time to heal.  

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