Chapter 27 Summary and Analysis
That October, things begin to settle down in Maycomb. Three big things happen: 1) Bob Ewell gets a job working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), but quickly loses it due to his laziness, 2) Judge Taylor's house is nearly broken into one Sunday night—the implication being that Ewell was the one who did it, and 3) Ewell starts stalking Helen Robinson and has to be run off her boss Link Deas' property. Aunt Alexandra worries that Ewell is holding a grudge against everyone related to Tom's trial (including Atticus), but Atticus says not to worry, because he has confronted everyone in their own way and had his time in the limelight. Ewell thought he'd be a hero, but everyone in Maycomb knows he's a liar. He's sour about it, but Atticus is convinced he won't do anything serious.
Things in Maycomb return to normal, with two minor changes: 1) the National Recovery Act is struck down and 2) a group of children whose identities remain hidden break into the cellar of a pair of spinsters, Miss Tutti and Miss Frutti, who claim to have heard the culprits (Syrians, they say), despite being stone deaf. This happens on Halloween, before the pageant in the high school auditorium. Scout unwillingly plays a ham, wearing a heavy costume made out of chicken wires and cloth. She expects her entire family to come, but Atticus refuses, leaving Jem to walk her to the school. As Scout says, this begins "[their] longest journey together."
James "Cotton Tom" Heflin (1869 - 1951). A United States Senator and Congressman and suspected leader of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). In this chapter, Atticus alludes to Cotton Tom when Scout asks if he's a radical, suggesting that he's as far from it as possible. Critics have pointed to this line to suggest that Atticus is actually racist, but that his ethics prevent him from behaving in a racist fashion toward African Americans. This aspect of his character is expanded upon in the sequel, Go Set a Watchman, in which a grown-up Scout is disappointed to hear that her father has attended meetings of the KKK. Whether Atticus is or is not a racist is still up for debate, but his actions in this novel are nevertheless interpreted as courageous and progressive.
The Ladies' Law. From the 1907 Alabama Criminal Code: "Any person who enters into, or goes sufficiently near to the dwelling house of another, and, in the presence or hearing of the family of the occupant thereof, or any member of his family, or any person who, in the presence or hearing of any girl or woman, uses abusive, insulting or obscene language must, on conviction, be fined not more than two hundred dollars, and may also be imprisoned in the county jail, or sentenced to hard labour for the county for not more than six months." Basically, this law is meant to prevent women and ladies from being catcalled on the street and subjected to the indignities of the world. It's a very outdated law, but effectively prevents Ewell from harassing Helen Robinson further.
(The entire section is 1,087 words.)