.. w Atticus pulled him and Dill away from fishing to accompany him to Helen Robinson’s house, and how Helen collapsed at the news. Meanwhile, the news occupies Maycomb’s attention for about two days, and everyone agrees that it is typical for a black man to do something irrational like trying to escape. Mr. Underwood writes a long editorial condemning Tom’s death as the murder of an innocent man, and the only other important reaction comes when Bob Ewell is overheard saying that the death makes one down and about two more to go. Commentary Atticus advises Jem to stand in Bob Ewell’s shoes, echoing to advice he gave Scout earlier in the novel.
Here, however, Atticus’ attempt to understand another human being fails: he makes an honest mistake in his analysis by failing to understand the depth of Ewell’s anger toward him. Aunt Alexandra is more insightful; she says a man like Ewell will do anything to get revenge. Her comments seem typical of her tendency to stereotype those people who are different from the Finches, but her analysis is correct. For all her faults, Aunt Alexandra’s stereotypes give her a good understanding of Maycomb County’s people. Both Jem and Scout are forced to face the adult world in these chapters. Jem and Atticus discuss the judicial system in Maycomb County for much of Chapter 23; the conversation is an education for Jem in the realities of the jury system.
Atticus describes the difficulty of changing laws, getting anyone but country people to sit on a jury, ensuring the secrecy of a jury vote, and allowing women to sit on Alabama juries. Finally, he reveals that one of the Cunninghams on the jury wanted to acquit Tom–a further indication that the world is not black and white. Scout, meanwhile, draws closer to her Aunt. The older woman’s refusal to have Walter Cunningham to dinner pulls them apart, but the missionary tea party reveals the better side of Aunt Alexandra. The scene brilliantly portrays the hypocrisy of the Maycomb ladies: Mrs. Merriweather’s large brown eyes always filled up with tears when she considered the oppressed (in Africa), Scout notes, yet the same woman can complain that there’s nothing more distracting than a sulky darky.
In the wake of the tragedy of Tom Robinson’s death (which Mr. Underwood’s editorial compares to the senseless slaughter of songbirds, an obvious reference to the novel’s title), however, the tea party becomes an opportunity for the Finch women to display moral courage by maintaining a public facade of composure. To Kill A Mockingbird – Chapters 26-27 Summary Dill leaves, school starts, and the children pass the Radley Place every day. They are too old to be frightened by the house, but Scout still wishes wistfully to see Boo Radley just once. Meanwhile, the shadow of the trial still hangs over her. One day in school, her third-grade teacher, Miss Gates, lectures the class on the wickedness of Hitler’s persecution of the Jews, and on the virtues of equality and democracy.
Scout listens, and later she asks Jem how Miss Gates can preach equality when she came out of the courthouse after the trial and told Miss Stephanie Crawford that it was about time someone taught the blacks in town a lesson. Jem becomes furious, and tells her to never mention the trial to him again; Scout, upset, runs to Atticus for comfort. In the first two months of fall, Bob Ewell gets a job with the WPA, one of the Depression job programs, and loses it a few days later. He blames Atticus for getting his job. A few weeks later, Judge Taylor is home alone and hears someone prowling around; when he goes to investigate, he finds his screen door open and sees a shadow creeping away. Then Bob Ewell begins to follow Helen Robinson to work in Mr.
Link Deas’ fields, keeping his distance but whispering obscenities at her. Link Deas finds Ewell and threatens to have him arrested if he doesn’t let Helen alone, and she has no further trouble. But these events worry Aunt Alexandra, who points out that Ewell seems to have a grudge against everyone connected with the case. That Halloween, the town sponsors a party and play at the school to avoid the unsupervised mischief of the previous Halloween, when two old sisters had their house burglarized and all their furniture hidden in their basement. The play is an agricultural pageant in which every child portrays a food: Scout wears a wire mesh shaped to look like ham. Both Atticus and Aunt Alexandra are too tired to attend, so Jem takes Scout over to the school. Commentary These chapters are marked by a mood of mounting mischief.
They begin with a reference to the Radley Place, the source of childhood terrors that no longer terrify–Boo Radley was the least of our fears, Scout comments, in the wake of the trial and Bob Ewell’s threats. The Radley Place is part of the past, now, although the narrator still expresses a fond wish to see him someday, and remembers their near-encounters with Boo during summers past. These memories restore Boo Radley to the reader’s consciousness, which has been occupied with the trial for most of Book Two, and the restoration provides foreshadowing for Boo’s appearance a few chapters later. Meanwhile, the after effects of the trial continue to loom. Bob Ewell’s various attempts at revenge–stalking Helen Robinson, breaking and entering–are sinister, and the fact that he has not yet attempted anything against the Finches only increases the sense of foreboding.
Atticus remains confident in his own safety, but this confidence begins to seem like wishful thinking more than anything else. Meanwhile, the incident involving Miss Gates reveals the extent to which Jem remains affected by the trial. Scout retains her faith in the basic goodness of others, and so her teacher’s obvious hypocrisy confuses her. Jem, meanwhile, has become disillusioned, and when Scout tries to talk to him about Miss Gates, he says he never wants to discuss the trial or courthouse again. Bob Ewell’s threats are not the only dark cloud hanging over the Finch household: the injustice of the trial has changed Jem irrevocably for the worse. Summary It is very dark on the way to the school, and Cecil Jacobs jumps out and frightens them.
Scout and Cecil go together around the crowded school, visiting the haunted house (in a 7th grade classroom) and buying homemade candy. The pageant looms, and all the children go backstage. Unfortunately, Scout falls asleep, misses her entrance, and runs onstage at the end, prompting Judge Taylor and many others to burst out laughing. The lady in charge of the pageant accuses Scout of ruining it, and Scout is so ashamed that she and Jem wait backstage until the crowd is gone before they make their way home. On their walk back, Jem hears noises behind them. They think it must be Cecil Jacobs, trying to frighten them again, but when they call out to him, they hear no reply. They walk faster, and have almost reached the road when their pursuer begins running after them.
Jem screams for Scout to run, but in the dark, hampered by her costume, she loses her balance and falls. Something tears at the metal mesh, and she hears struggling behind her. Then Jem breaks free and drags her to the road before their assailant pulls him back. Scout hears a crunching sound and Jem screams; she runs toward him and is grabbed and slowly squeezed. Suddenly her attacker is pulled away, and then she realizes that there are four people under the tree. Once the noise of struggling has ceased, Scout feels on the ground for Jem, finding only the prone figure of an unshaven man who smells of whiskey.
She stumbles toward home, and in the light of the streetlight she sees a man carrying Jem toward her house. When she reaches home, Aunt Alexandra is already calling Dr. Reynolds. Atticus calls Heck Tate, telling him that someone has attacked his children. Aunt Alexandra removes Scout’s costume, and Atticus tells her that Jem is only unconscious, not dead.
Then Dr. Reynolds arrives and goes into Jem’s room; when the doctor emerges he says that Jem’s arm is broken, and he has a bump on his head, but will be all right. Scout goes in to see her brother; the man who carried him home is in the room, but she does not recognize him. Then Heck Tate appears and tells Atticus that Bob Ewell is lying down in the street, dead, with a knife in his chest. Scout tells them what she heard and saw, and Heck Tate shows her costume with a mark on it where a knife slashed and was stopped by the wire. When she gets to the point in the story where Jem was picked up and carried home, she turns to the man in the corner and really looks at him for the first time. He is pale, with torn clothes and a thin, pinched face and colorless eyes, and Scout realizes that it is Boo Radley.
She takes Boo–Mr. Arthur–down to the porch, and they sit on the swing and listen to Atticus and Heck Tate argue. Heck insists on calling the death an accident, and Atticus, thinking that Jem killed Bob Ewell, does not want his son protected. The sheriff corrects him–Boo killed Ewell, not Jem, and Boo does not need the attention of the neighborhood brought to his door. Tom Robinson died for no reason, Heck says, and now the man responsible is dead: let the dead bury the dead. Scout takes Boo up to say goodnight to Jem, and then she walks him home.
He goes inside his house, and she never sees him again, but for a moment she imagines the world from his perspective. Then she goes home, and finds Atticus sitting in Jem’s room, and he reads one of Jem’s books to her until she falls asleep. Commentary The night of the pageant is laden with foreshadowing, from the pitch darkness, to Cecil Jacobs’ attempt to scare them, to the sense of foreboding that grips Aunt Alexandra just before they leave. The pageant itself is an amusing depiction of small- town pride, as the lady in charge spends thirty-nine minutes describing the exploits of Colonel Maycomb, the town’s founder, and the reader can visualize the parade of meats and vegetables crossing the stage, with Scout, just awake, hurrying after them as the audience roars with laughter. After this scene, the children’s walk home is taken in a mood of mounting suspense, as the noise of their pursuer is first heard and assumed to be Cecil Jacobs, only to have it rapidly become clear that they lie in mortal danger.
The attack is all the more terrifying because it takes place so close to their home, in a place assumed to be safe, and because Scout (in her costume) has no idea what is happening. Boo Radley’s entrance takes place in the thick of the scuffle, and Scout does not realize that her reclusive neighbor has saved them until she has reached home; even then she assumes him to be some countryman. When she finally realizes who has saved her, the childhood phantom has become a human being: His lips parted into a timid smile, and out neighbor’s image blurred with my sudden tears. ‘Hey, Boo,’ I said. After Boo’s unveiling, all that remains of the story is Heck Tate’s decision to say that Bob Ewell fell on his knife, sparing Boo the horror of publicity.
The title of the book and its central theme are invoked, as Scout says that exposing Boo to the public eye would sort of like shootin’ a mockingbird. Then she takes him home, and Atticus’ admonition to step into someone else’s shoes is also invoked, as Scout suddenly sees the world through Boo’s eyes. The novel ends here, and the reader is offered no details of Scout’s future, except that Boo is never seen again. We have a sense, however, that the story has embraced her entire childhood, and Scout thinks that they have not much more to learn, except possibly algebra.