To Kill a Mockingbird – Chapter 15

In the first paragraph, Scout notes that the short peace she had been experiencing was about to end. She says, “A nightmare was upon us.” When Jem says that there are some men out in the yard, and they want Atticus to come out, Scout thinks to herself, “In Maycomb, grown men stood outside in the front yard for only two reasons: death and politics.” Scout’s words, combined with the threatening mood, foreshadow that something bad will happen later in the chapter. The chapter begins on an ominous note as the reader receives hints that something bad is about to happen. Identify at least two instances of foreshadowing from the first severalparagraphs.
The men are apparently talking about Tom Robinson. The reader can infer that Heck Tate is nervous that something might happen to Tom. He talks about moving Tom to the county jail the next day and says, “I don’t look for any trouble, but I can’t guarantee there won’t be any…” Another man, Mr. Link Deas, says that he is worried about “that Old Sarum bunch,” referring to the people who live in the northern part of the county. Deas asks if Heck might be able to get a change of venue for the trial, but the sheriff replies that there is not much point in doing that now. What are the men talking about as the children listen from the window? What can thereader infer from the conversation? For example, what makes Heck Tate “uneasy”?
Atticus says to Mr. Deas, “Link, that boy might go to the chair, but he’s not going till thetruth’s told…And you know what the truth is.” This causes the men to murmur amongthemselves and move in toward Atticus as he backs away from them. Suddenly, Jem screams to Atticus that the telephone is ringing. This startles the men, and they scatter. Soon after, they leave. What does Atticus say that causes the men to close in on him? What makes the men scatter?
Jem is afraid that Atticus might become the target of a mob or the Ku Klux Klan: “They were after you, weren’t they?…They wanted to get you….” After the men leave, Jem reveals his fears to Atticus. What is Jem worried about?
Atticus comes into the livingroom carrying an extension cord with a light bulb on the endof it. Shortly thereafter, he leaves for the evening, taking the car. The children are surprised because Atticus always walks to his office. The fact that he drives this night suggests to Jem that something is wrong. Atticus may be in danger, and he apparently knows it. According to Scout, Atticus does “something that interest[s]” her and Jem. What isit? What other surprising thing does he do, and why does this suggest to Jem thatsomething is wrong?
They decide to go downtown because they are worried about their father’s safety. They go get Dill, and the three of them make their way to the courthouse square. What do Jem and Scout do after Atticus leaves the house, and why?
Atticus is sitting outside in front of the jail. He is calmly reading by the light of the bare bulb that he had brought with him. Where do the children find Atticus, and what is he doing when they spot him? Howdoes this explain why he left the house with the extension cord and light bulb?
The men apparently have come to the jail to lynch Tom Robinson. As they move towardthe jailhouse door, one of them asks, “He in there, Mr. Finch?” He is obviously referring to Robinson. Another says, “You know what we want…Get aside from the door, Mr. Finch.” Their words, combined with their menacing movements, imply that they intend to harm Tom Robinson. It is likely that they mean to kill him. Lynching was still a very real threat in America in the 1930s, especially for a black man accused of raping a white woman. The threat of a lynch mob explains why Heck Tate had been uneasy when he spoke to Atticus earlier in the evening. This is the kind of “trouble” he had been expecting. The reason for the men’s arrival at the jail is not directly stated. Taking into accountwhat they say and their behavior, why have they come to the jail?
Thinking to surprise her father, she bursts through the crowd and shouts, “H-ey, Atticus!” She suddenly realizes with embarrassment that most of the men are strangers: “I had leaped triumphantly into a ring of people I had never seen before.” Nervously, Atticus stands up and tells Jem to take Scout and Dill home. Jem refuses. One of the men grabs Jem roughly by the collar; Scout runs up and kicks the man, defending her brother. Atticus again tells Jem to take the children and go home, but Jem again firmly refuses. Since she does not understand why the men are there, Scout innocently attempts to start a conversation with Mr. Cunningham. She politely asks him about his entailment and tells him to say hello to his son, Walter, who is in her grade. All of the men become quiet, staring at Scout. Eventually, Mr. Cunningham says, “I’ll tell [Walter] you said hey, little lady.” He then tells the men to clear out, and the crowd disperses. Scout’s innocence disarms the men and reminds them that they are “family” men. Faced with a guileless child, they suddenly realize how shameful their behavior has been. Briefly summarize what happens when Scout pushes her way through the group of men.How does she ultimately defuse the situation?
Atticus goes to the jail that night to protect Tom Robinson from potential harm. Scout, Jem, and Dill protect Atticus by following him there. Jem refuses to leave when he sees that the men are threatening his father. Scout defends Jem when the burly man grabs him. She also unknowingly protects her father by causing the mob to disperse. Finally, Mr. Underwood has been leaning out his window the whole time with a shotgun, ready to shoot if any of the men begin to harm Atticus. All of these characters exhibit courage, strength, and loyalty as they risk their own lives to protect each other from harm. The concept of protection plays a major role in this chapter, as several characters areinvolved in the act of defending or safeguarding one another. Who protects whom, andhow do they do it?

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