To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 14 Summary and Analysis

Harper Lee

Chapter 14 Summary and Analysis

Two chapters later, Scout finally gets around to asking Atticus what "rape" is and tells him about that day at Calpurnia's church. Aunt Alexandra, of course, doesn't approve and won't allow Scout to visit Calpurnia's house. A small fight ensues, in which Aunt Alexandra tries to force Atticus to fire Calpurnia, to no avail. Jem then patronizes Scout for being young, which causes those two to fight. Atticus has to come break it up and send them to bed. Alone in her room after, Scout thinks she feels a snake, but it turns out to be Dill, who has ridden the train by himself because he wants to escape his new stepfather, whom he doesn't like. He tells them that he was bound in chains but escaped to join a small animal show, but in reality he just stole thirteen dollars from his mother's purse and took the nine o'clock train to Maycomb Junction, then walked the rest of the way to the Finch house. This adventure has left him very hungry.

Dill's mother doesn't know where he went, so Jem calls Atticus in to help. He goes over to talk to Miss Rachel while Dill eats and takes a bath. Miss Rachel then comes over to scold Dill, but then lets him stay there, like he wanted. Later, Dill climbs into bed with Scout, and they talk about his real reasons for running away: his mother and stepfather weren't really "interested" in him, which seems to mean that they ignored him and that, when they didn't ignore him, they expected him to act more like boys his own age. Dill, who has already been established as an odd character, didn't like that.

This chapter ends with Dill telling Scout fanciful stories about an island of babies "waiting to be gathered like morning lilies." Scout then asks why Boo Radley hasn't run away, and Dill says he might not have anywhere else to go. The sadness of this is tempered by the sweetness of Dill and Scout's relationship, which provides some much needed emotional relief before Tom's trial.

Alliteration

One example of this would be the kids "squirm[ing their] way through the sweating sidewalk."

Allusion

Herbert Hoover (1874 - 1964). The 31st President of the United States. He was in office from 1929 to 1933, and the beginning of his first and only term roughly coincided with the 1929 Stock Market Crash, which drove the country into the Great Depression. Hoover, though not directly responsible for the Stock Market Crash itself, wasn't able to pull the country out of the Depression, making his four years in office pretty grim for the American public. Only after Franklin Delano Roosevelt took office did things begin to improve. Scout alludes to Hoover when she points out the "Hoover cart" that someone is driving. (A Hoover cart is one that has been fitted with the wheels of a car and is being pulled by a mule or horse. It's called a "Hoover" cart because it was invented during Hoover's presidency.)

Conflict

In this chapter, the various conflicts parallel each other: Atticus's conflict with Aunt Alexandra is similar to Scout's conflict with Jem in that they're all siblings disagreeing over the way Scout and Aunt Alexandra are supposed to act around each other.

Atticus vs. Aunt Alexandra. Their fight in this chapter stems from a larger conflict over how Atticus raises his children. Aunt Alexandra is critical of his parenting skills, particularly where it comes to Scout, who hasn't had a strong (white) female role model growing up. Aunt Alexandra's presence is in itself a result of her questioning Atticus's ability to raise his children and is, thus, a threat to Scout and Jem, who would prefer to think of Atticus as a stand-up (if old and bookish) father.

Scout vs. Aunt Alexandra. This conflict stems from the really fundamental difference in the way these two characters think about gender and self-expression. Scout likes to wear overalls instead of dresses and to speak her mind instead of being demure, and in many ways this makes her a rebel, because polite society in Maycomb is more aligned with Aunt Alexandra and her now outdated belief that girls should be feminine, wear dresses, and defer to men. Scout doesn't agree and therefore doesn't respect Aunt Alexandra's authority. This leads to trouble.

Scout vs. Jem. This conflict stems from the age difference between Scout and Jem, which has become far more pronounced over the last few chapters. Jem, who's now old enough to be called Mister Jem, has begun to take on airs and to talk down to Scout, which understandably irritates her. When he has the gall to suggest that he'll spank her if she crosses Aunt Alexandra (as if he even has the right), Scout jumps him and tries to beat him up. This levels the playing field between them once again, if only because engaging in the fight with Scout means that Jem is in no way superior to her. The fight is eventually broken up by Atticus, who tells Scout that she only has to mind Jem when and if he can make her (knowing, no doubt, that he can't). We don't see Jem's response to this.

Idiom

Scout uses an idiom when she says the only way that she could leave the room "with a shred of dignity" was to go to the bathroom.

Simile

One example of this is Dill "shiver[ing] like a rabbit" when he hears Miss Rachel's voice.