What is the final outcome in Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The final outcome of the story is that Scout and Jem now have a much better understanding of the adult world than they did at the start of the book. Back then, they were young and incredibly naive. They still are, to a certain extent, but they've both matured considerably over time, to the extent that they have a much better idea of how the world works and of their place in it.

By the close of the book, Scout and Jem are also finally able to comprehend the value of empathy. This is the lesson that Atticus has been drumming into his children from the get-go. They didn't really understand it at first, but after the encounter with Mrs. Dubose, the trial of Tom Robinson, and, most importantly of all, after the discovery of Boo Radley's true nature, they're now much better able to put themselves into other people's shoes.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The outcome of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird involves Atticus losing the Tom Robinson case, the death of the Bob Ewell, Boo Radley's heroic efforts to save the children, Scout's understanding of Boo Radley, and the completion of her moral development. Harper Lee consolidates several of the themes throughout the novel at the end of To Kill a Mockingbird. Atticus loses his case because of the racist Maycomb jury, and the children witness injustice for the first time in their lives. After the trial, Tom Robinson allegedly dies attempting to escape from prison. Bob Ewell, the antagonist, attempts to kill Jem and Scout when they are walking home from a community Haloween festival. Their reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley, saves the children by fighting off Bob Ewell and stabbing him with his own knife. After Boo saves the children, Scout meets him for the first time in Jem's room, and finally realizes he is a caring, friendly neighbor, who happens to be shy. When Atticus asks Scout if she understands why Sheriff Tate won't tell the community about Boo's heroics, Scout says, "Well, it'd be sort of like shootin' a mockingbird, wouldn't it?" (Lee 370) As Scout walks Boo Radley home, she finally is able to view Maycomb from his perspective. Lee ties together the themes of losing childhood innocence, gaining perspective, the importance of moral development, and understanding why it is wrong to harm innocent people at the end of her novel. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial