Illustration of a bird perched on a scale of justice

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

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What are the literary elements in chapter 9 of To Kill a Mockingbird?

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In addition to the literary elements of Chapter 9 that have already been explicated, there are the additional elements of theme, tone, and mood.

This chapter begins with an episode of tension between Scout and Cecil Jacobs, who insults her father, generating a certain cautionary tone by the author as...

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it becomes apparent to the reader that tensions are rising among the citizens of Maycomb. The announcement in the schoolyard that Cecil makes can only be reflective of things that he has heard from adults.

This same tension is continued with the conflict between Scout and her cousin Francis, who essentially repeats the accusation against Scout's father that Cecil made. In addition, when Francis underscores his words with a statement that Aunt Alexandra has supposedly made, Scout is infuriated because now the negativity is inside her own family.

"Grandma says it's bad enough he lets you all run wild, but now he's turned out a n****r-lover we'll never be able to walk the street of Maycomb agin. 'He's ruinin' the family, that's what he's doin.'"

The tension is then heightened as Scout becomes enraged and splits her knuckle on Francis's front teeth. Fortunately, Uncle Jack, who reprimands Scout later, comes to the house and talks to Scout about the incident. She tells him her side of what has happened, and they come to an understanding. 

Later, Jack and Atticus discuss the upcoming trial and the problems connected to it. Scout overhears Atticus and comes to understand that her father must accept the assignment to defend Tom Robinson because he would violate his ethics otherwise. So, the tension of the narrative is lessened as the emotional level is reduced and the theme of always doing what is right is underscored. 

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Literary elements include characters, settings, plot, conflict, and point of view. In chapter 9 of To Kill a Mockingbird, the main characters are Scout, Jem, and Atticus. Minor characters are Uncle Jack, Aunt Alexandra, and Cecil Jacobs. The primary setting is Finch's Landing, the historic home of the Finch family. The novel is told through Scout's first-person point of view. There also plot developments in the chapter. For example, the exposition sets up the annual Christmas traditions at Finch's Landing. Scout, the narrator, also explains the backstory of Finch's Landing.

Scout faces two similar conflicts with two different people. At the beginning of the chapter, she prepares to fight Cecil at school for saying, "Scout Finch’s daddy defended niggers." Scout does not understand his words, but she does not want anyone to say anything negative about her father. Later, she and her cousin, Francis, have a conversation. He says,

I guess it ain't your fault if Uncle Atticus is a nigger-lover besides, but I'm here to tell you it certainly does mortify the rest of the family.

Enraged, Scout chases after Francis. Even though Scout knows she is not allowed to fight, she cannot tolerate anyone criticizing Atticus.

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