TO Kill a Mockingbird – Chapter 28

It is dark, cloudy, and windy. There is no moon. Scout describes the schoolyard as being “pitch black.” Later, the wind dies down and the air becomes still. Scout notes, “This was the stillness before a thunderstorm.”Answers may vary about the mood. Example: The description of the pitch black night,combined with the clouds, wind, and subsequent stillness, suggests an atmosphere of suspense and foreboding. How does Scout describe the night of the pageant? What mood is suggested by Scout’s description of it?
Scout admits that the Radley house is still a scary place. However, she is no longer frightened of Boo, telling Jem, “Boo doesn’t mean anybody any harm….”As they have matured, Jem and Scout have left other childhood fears behind as well. Scout uses a simile to describe the fading of these fears: “Haints, Hot Steams, incantations,secret signs, had vanished with our years as mist with sunrise.” How have Scout’s feelings about Boo Radley changed since the beginning of the novel?What other childhood fears and/or superstitions have Jem and Scout left behind?Identify the simile that she uses to explain the disappearance of these fears.
They hear a lone mockingbird singing high up in the tree.Answers may vary on the significance of the scene. Example: As previously noted, themockingbird is a symbol of innocence, and several characters in the novel can be compared to mockingbirds. In this scene, the mockingbird may symbolize Boo Radley, since it is singing in his tree, and Scout has just noted that Boo is a harmless creature. At the same time, it may symbolize Scout and Jem, innocent children making their way alone on a dark and scary night. Additionally, the notes of foreshadowing up to this point suggest that something may damage or destroy their innocence on this particular evening. As Scout and Jem pass by the edge of the Radley property, what do they hear in the tree?What is the significance of this scene?
Mrs. Merriweather drones on so long that Scout falls asleep backstage. As a result, she misses her cue and eventually ends up rushing onto the stage just as the pageant is ending. The audience laughs and cheers but the rigid Mrs. Merriweather is not amused. She takes Scout backstage and tells her that she ruined the pageant, causing Scout to feel awful. Why does Mrs. Merriweather accuse Scout of ruining the pageant?
Scout’s respect and appreciation for her brother has gradually grown over the past several chapters. In this chapter, she seems to finally accept the fact that Jem is growing up, indicating that she is now pleased with his maturity instead of resistant to it. At the beginning of the chapter, she notes that it is “gallant” of him to carry her costume. She also tells him that she is glad to have him escort her to the pageant. After Mrs. Merriweather’s cruel accusation, Jem sympathizes with Scout and makes her feel better. He says she did all right, “just came in a little late, that was all.” Scout thinks, “Jem was becoming almost as good as Atticus at making you feel right when things went wrong.” How does Scout feel about Jem in this chapter? What does she say about him after he sympathizes with her about Mrs. Merriweather’s cruel remark?
When Scout and Jem leave the school, the night is still “black dark.” Someone has offered them a ride home but they have declined it, almost certainly a bad decision. As they are crossing the schoolyard, Scout realizes that she has forgotten her shoes. When they turn back to the school to retrieve the shoes, suddenly the auditorium lights go off, another ominous sign. As they walk, Jem stops several times, thinking that he hears something in the darkness:”I hear it when we’re walkin’ along, but when we stop I don’t hear it.” Thinking that thesound may be Cecil Jacobs trying to scare them again, they yell out, hoping that Cecil will give up the joke. However, Cecil does not appear, and no one answers their calls.As they approach the oak tree, they both know for certain that someone is following them.With a note of dread, Scout tells the reader, “Our company shuffled and dragged his feet, as if wearing heavy shoes. Whoever it was wore thick cotton pants; what I thought were trees rustling was the soft swish of cotton on cotton, wheek, wheek, with every step.” Harper Lee creates a mood of suspense and foreboding as Jem and Scout begin theirwalk home. Briefly summarize their journey from the school to the big oak tree, noting some elements that contribute to the suspenseful mood.
The person who has been following the children suddenly rushes toward them. Scout triesto run but loses her balance in the cumbersome costume. She feels something crushing the chicken wire around her: “Metal ripped on metal and I fell to the ground and rolled as far as I could….” The stranger then knocks Jem down. As they scuffle, Scout hears a “dull crunching sound,” and Jem screams. She runs toward Jem but bumps right into the assailant.He apparently tries to strangle her, as she says, “He slowly squeezed the breath out of me.”Suddenly, another person jerks the attacker off of Scout and flings him to the ground. Scout assumes that it is Jem. What happens when Scout and Jem arrive at the tree?
She sees a man carrying Jem in his arms: “The man was walking with the staccato steps of someone carrying a load too heavy for him…He was carrying Jem. Jem’s arm was dangling crazily in front of him.” As the man crosses the Finches’ front yard, Atticus opens the door and runs down the steps. Together, he and the stranger take Jem inside. What does Scout see when she looks down the road after the attack?
Atticus many times over the past several chapters. However, instead of facing Atticus, he cowardly attacked the man’s children. Additionally, when Scout goes over to the assailant after the scuffle, she smells stale whiskey emanating from him. Bob Ewell is well known for his excessive drinking.Answers may vary on the identity of the person who carries Jem home. Example: He may be Boo Radley. The scuffle took place on the edge of the Radley property, near the big oak tree where Boo had left gifts for Scout and Jem. Earlier in the evening, the children had talked about Boo Radley and had noted that he is a harmless person. Additionally, on their way to the school, they had heard a mockingbird in the big oak tree. It has already been established that Boo and the mockingbird are connected symbolically. Who do you suppose the assailant was? Who is the stranger that carries Jem home?
The line is an example of hyperbole. Scout is so worried about Jem that she exaggerates the amount of time that Dr. Reynolds spends in Jem’s room. To her worried mind, a short amount of time feels like “ten forevers.” As Scout anxiously waits to hear how Jem is doing, she says, “After ten forevers Dr. Reynolds returned.” What literary term does this line demonstrate?
Jem has a bump on his head and a broken arm. The doctor says the break is very bad, “Like somebody tried to wring his arm off….” What are Jem’s injuries, according to Dr. Reynolds?
The stranger is standing in a corner of Jem’s room, leaning against the wall. Scout doesnot recognize him. She assumes that he must have come out from the country to attend the pageant and just happened to be in the vicinity when the attack occurred. As Scout looks at the man who carried Jem home, what are her thoughts?
It is the body of Bob Ewell. Tate tells Atticus, “Bob Ewell’s lyin’ on the ground under that tree down yonder with a kitchen knife stuck up under his ribs. He’s dead, Mr. Finch.” The chapter closes on a dramatic note. According to Sheriff Tate, what is lying under the big oak tree?
Jem’s broken arm brings the reader back to the beginning of the novel. In the very first line, Scout says, “When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.” In the second paragraph from Chapter One, she tells the reader, “When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident.” From this point, the entire novel is Scout’s narrative of the circumstances that led up to Jem’s broken arm. The narrative of To Kill a Mockingbird is an example of a circular plot structure. Give an example from this chapter that demonstrates the circular plot structure of the novel.

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