What techinques are used to establish a feeling of mystery in the first chapter?

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jmeenach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 1 establishes mystery and intrigue - and foreshadowing - through the development of the Radley house. 

The reader finds out that Boo has been kept inside his home for years, and according to local gossip he stabbed his father in the leg with a pair of scissors. The Finch children and their friends begin to think of Boo as a ghost and try to outdo each other's attempts to draw him outside so that they can see him.

 In Chapter 1 Atticus teaches two lessons. First, he tells the children to mind their “own business and let the Radleys mind theirs, they had a right too. . . .” His second lesson to the children is that there are many ways “of making people into ghosts.” The children, however, do not immediately understand.

Scout states that Jem passed the Radley Place “always running” and that, “A Negro would not pass the Radley Place at night. . . .” Dill’s aunt locks up tight at night because of her fear of Arthur. Dill dares Jem to touch the house and contrasts the bravery of the folks in Meridian with the cowardliness of the people in Maycomb.

The chapter ends with a sense of foreboding; the last words are that the Radley “house was still.”

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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