In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, what are Scout's 11 Flashbacks in Chapter 31, and what does each one of them mean?

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

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In Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, after escorting Boo Radley home, Scout certainly does go over a number of flashbacks in her mind, all having to do with her revelations concerning Boo. The flashbacks begin with the paragraph starting "Daylight ... in my mind, the night faded" and end with the paragraph ending, "Autumn again, and Boo's children needed him" (Ch. 31). The most important of those flashbacks is the final one in which Scout sees Boo rescue her and Jem but also in which she thinks of her and her brother as "Boo's children."

Throughout the flashbacks, she sees herself, Jem, and Dill all making fun of Boo because the children and the entire town see Boo as not being a true human being but rather a ghost. She particularly feels sad and guilty because Boo, as their neighbor, gave them so much--"two soap dolls, a broken watch and chain, a pair of good-luck pennies, and [their] lives"--but they gave him nothing in return and never saw him again. It is at the moment that Boo rescues her and Jem and she finally recognizes who he is that Scout has her greatest transformation. No longer does she see Boo as a non-human ghost; instead, she sees he is a caring human being who cares just as much about Scout as Jem as Atticus, making them "Boo's children" as well. It is Boo's moment of bravery and self-sacrifice that helps Scout to see Boo as a caring human being and to realize the truth of her father's wisdom, "You never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them." Realizing this truth helps her feel a connection with not just Boo Radley but with all of humanity, showing us just how much she has grown as a character.

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