To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 22 Summary and Analysis

Harper Lee

Chapter 22 Summary and Analysis

After the verdict, Jem starts crying, saying it isn't right. Together, they all head home, exhausted, and sit up for a while, considering what happened. Aunt Alexandra tells Atticus she's sorry about the verdict, but wishes the children hadn't watched the trial. Atticus says that they had every right to watch and the racism of the trial is "as much Maycomb County as missionary teas," meaning it is part of their heritage and way of life, unfortunately.

In the morning, they discover that the African American community has left them a pile of gifts on their back porch to thank Atticus for defending Tom. There are tomatoes, beans, pickled pigs' knuckles. Atticus grins at those. Soon after, Dill comes in and tells them that Miss Rachel said a few nasty things about Atticus and the trial ("if a man like Atticus Finch wants to butt his head against a stone wall it's his head"). When they go outside, Miss Stephanie Crawford, Mr. Avery, and Miss Maudie are all talking out on Miss Maudie's porch. Miss Stephanie asks them a series of gossipy and irritating questions, but Miss Maudie saves them from this by inviting them in for cake. She made one little one each for Scout and Dill, but cuts a slice from a big one for Jem, in recognition of his being older.

Jem's feeling glum because of the verdict and thinks no one tried to help Tom, but Miss Maudie corrects him, suggesting that Judge Taylor deliberately chose Atticus to defend Tom so that he'd get a fairer trial. She says Atticus is the only lawyer who could've made the jury deliberate on a case like this for that long—if anyone else had defended Tom, the jury would've found him to be guilty in five minutes. Outside, Dill says that Miss Stephanie Crawford and all the other gossips should be "ridin' broomsticks," meaning that they should be recognized for the witches they are. He declares that when he grows up he's going to be a clown and spend all day laughing at other people, especially the terrible ones.

When Miss Stephanie and Miss Rachel wave to the kids, they feel obliged to go up to them. The adults then tell them to get inside, because there's been trouble: Bob Ewell spat in Atticus's face and threatened to "get him if it took the rest of his life."

Foreshadowing

An example of this is when Ewell said he'd "get" Atticus "if it took the rest of his life." He will in fact die in the process of trying to get back at Atticus, which makes this line especially ominous.

Hyperbole

One example of this would be when Mr. Avery "nearly blew [the kids] off the sidewalk" with his sneezing fit.

Idiom

Scout uses an idiom when she says, "I stole a glance at Jem."

Metaphor

Perhaps the most important metaphor in this chapter comes at the end, when Dill says that Miss Stephanie and the other gossips should be "ridin' broomsticks," the implication being that they're witches and that the Tom Robinson trial has been a metaphorical witch hunt. Another example is Dill eating in "rabbit-bites," which further solidifies the image of him as a rabbit that Harper Lee introduced in Chapter 14 when he "shivered like a rabbit" at the sound of Miss Rachel's voice.

Symbols

Clowns. Dill has long been a joker in this novel, so it's fitting that he would want to be a clown when he's older. Though his reasons for wanting this are sad (he's disillusioned with the world and wants to laugh at the racist people who convicted and vilified Tom), the clown is nevertheless a symbol of humor and mirth. For Dill, being a clown would merely be a continuation of his youth and would represent his childish innocence, which makes it difficult for him to cope with the harsh reality of the adult world.

Gifts. In Chapter 7, we saw how the gifts in the knothole were symbols of Boo's affection for the Finch children. In this chapter, the gifts on Atticus's back steps are symbols of the respect and gratitude that the African American community feels for Atticus. They appreciate the fact that he defended Tom despite the backlash and want to thank him somehow, so they give him what they can: food. This is an incredible gesture that almost moves Atticus to tears.

Themes

Gossip. The morning after the trial, the children make a pointed effort to avoid any gossip about the trial. However, when they head outside, they're immediately confronted by Miss Stephanie, Mr. Avery, and Miss Maudie, who've been gossiping on Miss Maudie's porch. Dill later says that all of these town gossips should be "ridin' broomsticks," because it would be a more accurate representation of their character. In this metaphor, we can clearly see that gossip has become a malicious force, and that the kids are trying to avoid it for good reason.