What is the gist of Chapter 8 in To Kill a Mockingbird?

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price7781 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Chapter 8 in To Kill a Mockingbird gives us a peek into two major thematic ideas.  To recap the chapter, snow comes to Maycomb, and it’s a shocking but wonderful surprise for Jem and Scout.  School is cancelled, and Jem tries to make a snowman out of mud and the thin layer of snow.  That night, it turns bitterly cold and Miss Maudie’s house catches on fire and burns down.  Since Miss Maudie lives next door to the Finches, Jem and Scout are told to go down and wait in front of the Radley house to be safe.  While they are watching the fire, Boo Radley puts a blanket around Scout’s shoulders to keep her warm.  Scout is unaware that he did this and gets scared when Atticus figures out that it is Boo who gives her the blanket.  Jem also confesses to Atticus about their antics trying to see Boo.  He tells him about the cemented knothole in the tree and his torn pants.

This chapter is significant because the odd winter weather signifies something bad or significant is going to happen.  Mr. Avery even blames Scout and Jem that the snow is due to them being bad kids.  The unseasonable winter weather foreshadows a change in not only Maycomb but in the children as well.  From this chapter on, the mood and tone of the novel changes.  No longer is the book about two children playing in Maycomb.  The novel becomes a more adult book with the trial of Tom Robinson and the racist actions of Bob Ewell.

Another purpose the chapter serves is to give us another glimpse at Boo.  Harper Lee has been giving us hints and clues about Boo throughout the subsequent chapters, but Boo covering up Scout and protecting her from the cold really tells us something about his kindness and character. 

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