To Kill a Mockingbird Questions and Answers
by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is the climax of To Kill a Mockingbird? In my English class we had a discussion about this question and our own opinon.

Expert Answers info

Tina Bishop, M.A. eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

bookM.A. from Southern Utah University

calendarEducator since 2011

write2,337 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

The climax of a story is the decisive moment when all of the conflicts are finalized. In To Kill a Mockingbird, part of that moment is when Bob Ewell is killed by Boo Radley in defense of the Finch children's lives. This moment clarifies how Bob Ewell's life ends and when Scout finally gets to meet and speak with Arthur Radley face to face. Sheriff Tate announces to Atticus and the family that Bob Ewell is lying out there dead with kitchen knife in him at the end of chapter 28. In chapter 29, a lengthy discussion is had between the sheriff and Atticus about the proper legal procedures to follow in this case.

Atticus thinks Jem killed Mr. Ewell, but Sheriff Tate says it was Boo Radley. As a result of Tate's findings, the Sheriff decides to report that Mr. Ewell fell on his own knife in the scuffle with the children. This way, Boo Radley is saved from the pomp and circumstance of saving the children and he can continue with his private life without any hype from the community. Once the decision has been made to keep Boo Radley safe from gossip, another part of the climax is complete. Boo Radley is to remain as quiet as he was before the incident.

The final part of the climax is the fact that Scout sees and talks with Boo Radley. Ever since the first chapter the children have wanted to see him. They tried a few tricks to get him to come out so they could see what all the rumors were about. Scout is the lucky one because she actually gets to talk with him for awhile. She even walks him home once the Sheriff and Atticus are done discussing the case. Scout describes her walk with Boo as follows:

"We came to the street light on the corner, and I wondered how many times Dill had stood there hugging the fat pole, watching, waiting, hoping. I wondered how many times Jem and I had made this journey, but I entered the Radley front gate for the second time in my life . . . I never saw him again" (278).

In summation, the climax deals with three parts: the end of Mr. Ewell, the emergence of Boo Radley, and Scout's opportunity to finally meet Boo Radley. These loose ends needed to be tied up and they all came together in one last fight over the children's lives. It's as if all of the conflicts throughout the book combine in that one deciding moment when Boo Radley takes care of Maycomb's biggest problem--Bob Ewell. And, for all the times Jem wanted to meet Boo Radley, it isn't he that gets the chance, even though he was carried home by the hero, but it is Scout who gets to speak, walk, and talk with him all by herself.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

marilynn07 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write469 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Science


I agree with the previous answer and would like to add that the climax in my mind regarding the court scene is when we find out that Bob Ewell is left handed. Everything that he and Mayella had said simply was meaningless. Mr. Ewell's left-handedness gave Tom Robinson his freedom. This is dramatic irony of the highest degree.

From the moment that we find out that the jury found Tom Robinson innocent, things in the novel sort of fall into place like dominoes until Bob Ewell does attempt to harm the Finch children after the school festival.

Then the second climax is when we find out that Arthur "Boo" Radley is really a hero who has saved the children from the vengeful Bob Ewell.  The rest of the story after the school festival is about tying up loose ends.


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

troutmiller eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2008

write704 answers

starTop subjects are Literature and History

Being a novel, it's hard to give it one climax.  There are two main stories within the novel.  One surrounds Boo Radley while the other surrounds Tom Robinson.  I would think the one you are referring to is the main one at the end.  That would be when Bob attacks the children.  As he is going after Jem and Scout, we get the full account of what Scout sees, even though little of it makes sense at that point in time.  The climax is supposed to be the turning point--when the reader isn't sure what is going to happen next.  That would be the scene under the Radley tree.  Then all that remains in the book closes out the story, explaining what happened, who was there under the tree, and closes with Atticus sitting in Jem's room all night.

The other climactic moment would be the trial--the verdict to be exact.  After all of the emotion going into the trial, we wait to hear what we assume the jury has finally decided on--Tom's INNOCENCE!  But we are wrong.  This could be considered the climax of Tom's part in the novel.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

awesomesinger33 | Student

The climax is when Mr. Ewell randomly attacks Jem and Scout on their way home from the annual pageant. This is the man whose daughter accused a black man of rape, whose life was extremely exposed during that trial, whose credibility, as Atticus put it, “…was destroyed at that trial…”. Mr. Ewell, filled with hatred, decided to take out his feelings on those around him; especially those closely associated with Atticus Finch himself. This crazy loon even had the guts to spit in the tolerant lawyer’s face, vowing vengeance.

In a course of time, he managed to temporarily break into the Judge’s house and taunt Tom Robinson’s widow on her daily walks to work, “…crooning foul words…”. Never would anyone expect for Mr. Ewell to confront the children of Atticus Finch, who were completely innocent and defenseless. “…We were nearly to the road when I felt Jem’s hand leave me, felt him jerk backwards to the ground. More scuffling, and there came a dull crunching sound and Jem screamed…”. They were not expecting the attack and did not know until afterwards who their attacker was, but the dialogue does give us a hint. “… A prickly stubble on the face told me it was not Jem’s. I smelled stale whiskey…”.

Once the children were brought to safety and a doctor had been called, Mr. Heck Tate arrived to check on the harmed children and gave everyone the news of the death of the identified attacker (guess who?). As a result, the vengeance previously vowed by the infamous Mr. Ewell never came to its full form, taking this extremely troubled man on a walk towards his own fate.

zoom3500 | Student

i like todos los hombres

promike1 | Student

I think the climax is when Scout is with Aunt Alexandra at their meeting towards the end of chapter 24, and scout understandswhat is it to be a lady. OR it is when Scout and Jem talk after the trial about what kind of people there are and they change their minds that there are only one kinds of folks.

The climax is the turning point in the book where the MAIN character makes a desition that changes the story's outcome. Scout is the main character.

The first climax is what i think, but the second my teacher said that, but eat doesn't make sense to me!!!

little-alice | Student

The Climax is without a doubt, not having to deal with Boo Radely; however Boo is a major part of the book, however with only one line, Atticus Finch has the climax in To Kill A Mockingbird. The climax is however, when Atticus Finch has his closing arguments with Tom Robinson's case. Because of his closing arguments, men like Walter Cunningham thought twice about if Tom Robinson is guilty.

Tom was found guilty, but, as Atticus Finch said: "What I said made men like Walter Cunningham think twice about if Tom is really guilty or not." The whole trial was prejudice; Tom really didn't rape Mayella Ewell; Bob Ewell beat her up and then blamed it on Tom so his kids wouldn't have been taken away. So why would the town of Maycomb, Alabama see the facts right in front of them and still think that Tom Robinson is still in-fact, guilty, when it is proven he is innocent.

Harper Lee left that for those who are intellegent enough to read To Kill A Mockingbird by themselfs or in the classroom, to think about.

Well, thats it for me on this post;

With Love And Care,

Alice Sarah Sheppard. :)

thesorry | Student

The Climax of this book is when Jem and Scout get attacked