Chapter 16                                                                                                Homepage

1. Explain the significance of Scout comparing Atticus in front of the jail to Atticus, “…

standing in the middle of an empty waiting street, pushing up his glasses.” (p. 156)

The reference to Atticus in the empty waiting street is when Atticus was getting ready to kill

the mad dog. Everyone was locked in their houses waiting to see what happened, but Atticus

was alone with the mad dog. With this comparison, Lee shows that Atticus is willing to stand

alone against the mad mob of angry men, and rather than protecting the whole neighborhood

from a mad dog, Atticus is protecting one African-American man. The signifi cance is that

Atticus is consistent in his beliefs. He is willing to stand up and protect what he thinks

deserves protection, regardless of the potential harm to himself, whether it is an attack by a

mad dog or an angry mob.

2. Why does Aunt Alexandra get upset with Atticus for talking about Mr. Underwood in

front of Calpurnia? What does this show about Aunt Alexandra’s character?

Aunt Alexandra does not think it is proper to talk about people hating African-Americans in

front of Calpurnia, because she is afraid that Calpurnia will repeat the conversation to other

African-Americans and stir them up. Aunt Alexandra’s concern about Atticus’ comments

shows that she does not trust any African-American, even one who has worked for the family

since she was a child.

3. What does Atticus’ comment that Calpurnia “…knows what she means to this family”

(p. 157) show about his own prejudices?

Atticus does not realize that his response, while accurate, does not tell the whole story.

Atticus will employ Calpurnia until she no longer wants to work, but she is not really a

member of the family like he previously said. She knows that there is a separating line

between being a member of the family and being the housekeeper, and that line is based on


4. Why does Lee have Aunt Alexandra confine the children to the yard?

By having the children in the front yard, Lee provides the setting for Jem to describe all the

people going into town. This provides the reader with a review of the different elements of

society represented in Maycomb.

5. Briefly describe the atmosphere in town the day of the trial. What clues does Lee give

the reader about the atmosphere?

All the people are dressed up and come to town as if they are going to a party or a festival.

The women are wearing gloves and hats, and the men are dressed in Sunday clothes.

Examples of Lee’s clues include:

• Scout says, “It was like Saturday. People from the south end of the county passed our house
in a leisurely but steady stream.” (p. 158)
• Miss Maudie says, “Look at all those folks, it’s like a Roman carnival.” (p. 159)
• Miss Stephanie says, “Look at all those folks—you’d think William Jennings Bryant was
speakin’.” (p. 160)
• Scout says, “It was a gala occasion. There was no room at the public hitching rail for
another animal, mules and wagons were parked under every available tree. The courthouse
square was covered with picnic parties sitting on newspapers…” (p. 160)

6. What does Lee illustrate with Jem’s explanation of Mr. Dolphus Raymond’s behavior?

Lee is using Raymond as another example of how appearances can be deceptive. When Jem

tells Dill that Raymond has an African-American wife and “mixed chillun” (p. 161), Dill

immediately says that Mr. Raymond does not look like trash. Dill does not expect a well-to-do

white man to choose to sit with the African-Americans when he has so many white people

he could join, and Dill cannot understand why a man of his wealth and heritage would

consciously choose an African-American woman as his wife. Jem excuses Mr. Raymond’s

selection of a wife by telling Dill about his on-going drinking problem due to the loss of his

first wife. Lee further reinforces this concept of deceptive appearances when Jem explains

what a mixed child is. Dill does not see any obvious physical differences in the child Jem

identifies as mixed and one that is African-American.

Chapter 17

1. Describe the impression that Tate gives the reader through his recount of the event and

Atticus’ cross-examination. What conclusion can the reader draw about Lee’s purpose

for Tate’s testimony?

Tate is friendly toward Atticus and seems like he is trying to be helpful, but it is apparent to

the reader that Tate never questioned the validity of the Ewells’ accusation. He did not bother

to have a doctor come tend Mayella’s wounds or verify that she was raped. He never mentions

questioning Tom about his whereabouts that evening or his version of what happened. He

gives the impression that he believed the Ewells and arrested the African-American, although

he never says it directly. Lee is beginning to show the discrimination that will become evident

in the trial of an African-American man accused of raping a white woman in the South.

2. What is the significance of Bob Ewell’s legal name?

Bob’s given name is Robert E. Lee Ewell, having been named after the General of the

Confederate Army. Since one of the causes of the Civil War was the practice of slavery in

the southern states, General Lee is associated with the pro-slavery/anti-African-American

viewpoint. Having Bob Ewell named after Lee reminds the reader of the war that was started

because of the relationship between African-Americans and white people.

3. What can the reader infer from Atticus’ emphasis on the location of Mayella’s injuries

and Bob Ewell’s dominant hand?

The reader can infer that Atticus suspects Ewell is the person that beat Mayella. The reader

can also infer that there is something that would prevent Tom from causing the injuries that

both Tate and Ewell describe.

4. What literary device does Lee use in referring to Bob Ewell as “…a little bantam cock of

a man…strutted to the stand…?” (pp. 169–170)

This is a metaphor in which Lee compares Ewell to a bantam rooster strutting around the

barnyard to illustrate Ewell’s confidence and his pride in being involved in the trial.

5. What is the irony about Bob Ewell’s response to Mr. Gilmer’s question about being


Mr. Gilmer understands the significance of Atticus’ questions about Ewell being right- or

left-handed, but Mr. Ewell does not. When Mr. Gilmer asks if Ewell is ambidextrous, Ewell

responds, “I most positively am not, I can use one hand good as the other. One hand good as

the other.…” (p. 178) His answer says that he is ambidextrous, which is an example of verbal

irony, because of the emphasis he uses to deny being ambidextrous.

6. Compare Jem’s and Scout’s attitudes at the end of this chapter regarding the progress

of the trial. What do their attitudes tell the reader about their understanding of race

relations in Maycomb?

Jem is convinced that Atticus has proven Robinson’s innocence by showing that Ewell is

left-handed. However, Scout is more skeptical as demonstrated by her statement, “I thought

Jem was counting his chickens.” (p. 178) The reader can infer that Scout has a better

understanding than Jem of what it will take for an all-white jury to fi nd an African-American

man innocent of rape. Jem focuses only on the facts of the trial, whereas Scout accepts the

reality of the prejudice involved.

7. What is Lee’s purpose in having the Ewell family accuse Tom Robinson of rape?

Lee uses the Ewell family to emphasize the racial implications of Tom Robinson’s trial. Based

on Lee’s portrayal of Burris Ewell in earlier chapters as well as Atticus’ discussions with

Scout about the Ewell family, the reader knows that no one in the town thinks highly of the

Ewells. They live in a run-down house near the town dump, and Bob Ewell uses the public

assistance money he receives to buy liquor for himself rather than food for his children. The

white people of Maycomb would never believe any accusation that Bob Ewell made against

another white person; however, because Tom is African-American, they side with Bob rather

than allow an African-American disgrace a white man by winning a lawsuit against him.

Chapter 18

1. How does Scout’s initial description of Mayella Ewell show Scout’s character growth?

Scout notes that initially Mayella seems to be fragile, but as soon as she sits in the witness

box, Mayella shows her true self—a strong girl used to physical labor. This observation

shows that Scout is maturing, because she is beginning to see that initial impressions can be


2. Identify several elements that Lee uses to create suspense during Mayella’s testimony.

Mayella’s statements and expressions during Atticus’ cross-examination show that she does

not trust him, even though he appears to be a nice, gentle man. For example, she tells the

judge she does not want Atticus making fun of her like he did her father. Scout describes

Mayella’s attitude toward Atticus as “…looking at him furiously.” (p. 181)

Scout implies that Mayella seems to be hiding something. For example, in referring to

Mayella’s increasing confidence, Scout says, “…there was something stealthy about hers, like

a steady-eyed cat with a twitchy tail.” (p. 181) When Atticus asks if the day of the alleged

rape is the first time Mayella asked Tom to come inside the fence, Scout notices that Mayella

jumps slightly and does not answer at first.Atticus’ long list of questions about Mayella’s everyday life draws out the suspense, because

the questions do not seem to relate to the trial. Scout notices that Atticus’ demeanor changes when he begins asking Mayella about the

alleged rape. He had stated that he was getting old and might ask her some questions that

she had already answered, but as soon as he asks Mayella about Tom hitting her, Scout says,

“Atticus’ memory had suddenly become accurate.” (p. 185) Atticus’ questions about loving her father make Mayella extremely uncomfortable.

3. How does Lee create sympathy for Mayella?

Through Atticus’ litany of questions about her life, the reader learns that Mayella has a very

difficult and lonely life, and she does not realize how bad it is. She claims to be able to read

and write as well as her father, which the on-lookers know is not very well. When Atticus

calls her Miss Mayella and refers to her as ma’am, Mayella sees this as mocking her rather

than as a gentlemanly sign of respect. She is surprised and then angry when Atticus asks

about friends, but in fact she does not have any.

4. How does Lee create conflict for the reader with respect to seeing Mayella as a

sympathetic character by the end of her testimony?

Mayella loses the reader’s sympathy because she continues to accuse Tom Robinson of raping

her, and she threatens the jury with being cowards if they do not believe her. However, looking

at her background, the reader can understand that she is also afraid that her father will get

angry at her if she tells the truth.

5. How does Scout’s description of Atticus after cross-examining Mayella illustrate his

consistent character?

Scout says that as Atticus sat down, he looked like he had a stomach ache and that it is clear

to her Atticus does not like what he did to Mayella. Atticus’ reaction is consistent with his

attitude toward seeing the best in people and trying to understand the reasons behind their

actions. Atticus believes that Mayella is an unfortunate person who told those lies because

her father forced her to do so, and Atticus wants to believe that she would not have done this

on her own.

6. Why does Atticus ask Tom to stand up?

Atticus has Tom stand up to show the jury that his left arm is injured, as explained by

Reverend Sykes. Because Tom only has one good arm, Atticus wants the jury to see that it is

impossible for Tom to grab Mayella, strangle her, hold her down, and rape her.

Chapter 19

1. Why does Lee begin this chapter with a description of Tom trying to take the oath in

the trial?

The difficulty that Tom has keeping his left hand on the Bible creates sympathy for him. It

also emphasizes how useless his left arm would be if he were trying to hold Mayella down

while she fought against him.

2. Why does Atticus ask Tom about previously being in trouble with the law?

Atticus wants the jury know that Tom is honest and is not hiding anything from them. By

having his own lawyer ask about his trouble rather than waiting for the prosecuting attorney

to ask, Tom is able to explain what happened and the penalty he served because of it.

3. What does Lee illustrate with Scout’s pity for Mayella?

Scout has matured enough to put herself in other people’s positions and see what their lives

are like—something that Atticus fi rst explained to her when they talked about Miss Caroline.

Scout realizes that Mayella must be lonelier than Boo Radley, because neither white people

nor African-Americans will have anything to do with her. Although Scout has developed the

ability to see life through other people’s eyes, she is still confused by Mayella’s anger at Tom

Robinson, the only person who has been nice to her. This shows that Scout does not fully

understand the full extent of the racist attitudes of white Maycomb people.

4. What is the significance of Tom Robinson admitting that he felt sorry for Mayella? How

does Mr. Gilmer further emphasize Tom’s error?

In this time period, no white person would believe that an African-American could pity any

white person, so when Tom admits he felt sorry for Mayella, it diminishes the credibility

of everything that Tom says. The prosecutor further emphasizes Tom’s error by continually

asking Tom if he is saying Mayella was lying during her testimony.

5. What does Tom mean when he says, “…it were not safe for any negro to be in a—fix

like that?” (p. 198)

Tom is smart enough to know that no one would believe him if he defended himself by

fighting off Mayella’s advances or if he hurts her father if Bob attacks him; yet Tom knows

that by running away, he looks guilty of something.

6. What is the implication of Mr. Gilmer calling Tom a boy? Why is Dill the one who gets

upset by these references?

Mr. Gilmer is being demeaning; by referring to Tom as a boy, he insinuates that Tom is not

a man who deserves equal treatment under the law. Dill understands this type of demeaning

treatment, because his mother and step-father talked to him the same way.

Note:  remember Dill’s comments when he explains why he ran away from home.

7. What does Scout mean when she says that Atticus is, “…the same in the courtroom as

he is on the public streets?” (p. 199)

Atticus is consistent in how he treats people regardless of who they are, where they are, or

what they are doing.

8. Why does Lee have Link Deas interrupt the trial?

Lee uses Link Deas to show the reader that there is at least one white man other than Atticus

who believes that Tom Robinson is innocent. By having Link attest to Robinson’s excellent job

performance, Lee counters the white people’s stereotypical image of the lazy, good-for-nothing


9. What is the symbolism of the courthouse lights in the following passage?

“This time Judge Taylor’s gavel came down with a bang, and as it did the

overhead lights went on in the courtroom.” (p. 194)

Even though it is not yet dark outside, the lights come on the moment Tom says Mayella

hugged him. The lights symbolize the truth of what happened in the Ewells’ house that day.

Until Tom explains this, the reader is unsure why the Ewells have accused him of attacking

Mayella. Once Tom describes Mayella’s advances toward him, the reader realizes the

significance of the truth—a white girl approached an African-American man for love and


10. What does Dolphus Raymond’s comment foreshadow at the end of this chapter?

Raymond’s comment indicates that he has been following Scout and Dill’s conversation, and

he agrees with Dill’s condemnation of the way most white people belittle African-Americans.

Evidently he is not drunk, or he could not understand what they are discussing. This

foreshadows a revelation about Raymond’s relationship with his African-American wife and

the theme that appearances can be deceiving.

Chapter 20

1. What is Lee’s purpose for inserting Raymond’s conversation with Scout and Dill in the

middle of the drama of the trial?

Lee uses Raymond to explain Dill’s distress about the way white people talk to African-

Americans. Raymond reflects on the fact that children are sensitive to comments that hurt

other people; but by the time Dill gets older, he may notice the harm. If he is like most adults,

however, Dill will not stand up for the minority. Through this conversation, Lee shows that

all the white citizens of Maycomb are to blame for the injustice against Tom Robinson, not

just the jury that delivers the verdict. Because they do not stand up for Tom, they allow the

Ewells to get away with their false accusations. This attitude exemplifies the mob mentality

that Atticus previously described to his children.

2. Why does Raymond constantly carry a brown bag with Coca-Cola in it? What does the

bag represent?

Raymond’s bag actually contains a bottle of Coca-Cola, but the citizens of Maycomb assume

that it is alcohol. The bag represents Raymond’s way of misrepresenting himself as a drunk,

thereby getting the freedom to live the life he wants to live without having people ostracize

him for living with an African-American wife.

3. Why did Atticus remove his coat, loosen his tie, and unbutton his vest?

Atticus wants to reduce the formality of the courtroom setting and talk to the jury like he is

just another one of them. By eliminating his formal attire, Atticus hopes that the jurymen can

look at him as a simple man and relate to what he is saying more easily.

4. What type of literary device does Atticus use when he says, “This case is as simple as

black and white?” (p. 203) How is Atticus’s choice of words ironic?

This is an example of an idiom in which Atticus is referring to the simplicity of the case—the

jury only has to choose which version to believe. This is an example of verbal irony, because

Tom Robinson is an African-American man accused of raping a white woman, so the case is

simply about black and white statements.

5. What was Lee’s purpose in having Atticus’ identify the court as the only place that all

men are equal?

Lee is reinforcing the reality that the men on the jury could never fi nd Tom innocent if they

are supposed to believe that Tom is the equal of Mayella or Bob Ewell. Lee has Atticus

acknowledge that all people are prejudice as part of their normal lives, so he does not ask

the jury to deny that. He simply asks them to honor their role in the democratic process

by basing their decision on the facts of the case, not the race of the parties involved. This

monologue gives Lee the opportunity for Atticus to restate his beliefs that justice is more

important than any personal beliefs.

Chapter 21

1. What is the significance of Lee’s portrayal of Calpurnia as she comes into the courtroom

and as she walks home with the children?

Lee reminds the reader that Calpurnia frequently walks the dividing line between the

affluent, white neighborhood and the African-American community. When talking to the

judge, Calpurnia’s demeanor is that of a subservient African-American; however, she speaks

correct English when addressing him, not the “negro- talk” Scout previously heard from her

at church. Even when she is angry with Jem for disobeying her and Aunt Alexandra, she uses

correct grammar; however, she treats Jem as a disobedient child while showing deference to

him by calling him Mister Jem. By having Calpurnia appear at this moment, Lee gives the

reader a stark reminder of the differences between Calpurnia and Tom Robinson.

2. What literary device does Lee use in the sentence, “If Mr. Finch don’t wear you out, I

will—get in that house, sir!” (p. 207) What does this sentence illustrate?

The phrase “…wear you out…” is an idiom that means to give someone a spanking for doing

something terribly wrong. This phrase is another illustration of the duality of Calpurnia’s

role. In one phrase, she is angry at Jem and threatens to spank him if his father does not,

but at the end of the sentence she refers to Jem as “sir.” By calling him “sir,” Calpurnia

acknowledges the racial difference between them—he is white, and she is African-American,

so he must be treated with respect.

3. Compare Scout and Jem’s opinions of the length of the jury deliberations.

Jem is optimistic that the jury will find Tom innocent, and when Reverend Sykes and Scout

both raise doubts, Jem simply reiterates the facts, without considering the deep-seated

prejudices of the members of the jury. He rationalizes the amount of time as being necessary

to consider the Alabama laws concerning rape. Scout, on the other hand, does not understand

the significance of the length of time, but emotionally she knows that something is not right.

She compares it to the winter day her father shot the mad dog, something that normally

appears in only the hot days of the summer.

4. Why does Reverend Sykes make Scout stand up as her father walks by?

Although Atticus lost the case, the African-American community stands up as Atticus walks

by to show respect for his valiant efforts. They understand that most lawyers would not have

made any attempt to provide Tom’s innocence.

Chapter 22

1. What is the significance of Aunt Alexandra saying, “I’m sorry, brother…” (p. 212) to


This is significant because it is the first time she has called Atticus “brother.” At a time when

she could remind Atticus that she had predicted this outcome, she shows that she values

family loyalty above anything else, even proving that she was right.

2. What does Atticus mean when he says, “They’ve done it before and they did it tonight

and they’ll do it again and when they do it—seems that only children weep?” (p. 213)

What is significant about Atticus saying the same thing that Mr. Raymond said to Scout

and Dill?

Both Atticus and Mr. Raymond have always believed that the adults of Maycomb ignore the

injustice that results from their prejudice against African-Americans, and they will continue

to do so. Before taking on Robinson’s trial, Atticus was seen as one of the most upstanding

citizens by the Maycomb community, whereas they shun Raymond because he lives with

an African-American woman. However, the moment Atticus became Robinson’s lawyer, the

Maycomb community shuns him just like Raymond. The significance of Atticus statement

is that he reminds the children that he has not changed his attitude; the town changes its

impression of him because he acted on his beliefs just like Raymond does—the belief that

there is nothing wrong with associating with African-Americans—Atticus was treated like

Raymond was.

3. How does Lee remind the reader of the character of Miss Stephanie, Miss Rachel, and

Miss Maudie through their comments to children after the trial is over?

Miss Stephanie remains true to her character by immediately starting to question the children

based on the gossip she had heard in town. Miss Rachel shows her lackluster attitude toward

others by saying that it is okay with her if Atticus wants to continue to “…butt his head

against a stone wall.…” (p. 213) As is typical of Miss Maudie, she takes the children inside

her house to have cake, answer their questions, and console them, particularly Jem.

4. What does Miss Maudie mean when she says, “There are some men in this world who

were born to do our unpleasant jobs…?” (p. 215)

She is explaining to the children that their father is an unusual man who is willing to do

whatever needs to be done, regardless of how difficult, painful, or unpopular the task may be.

Although most lawyers would not have made an effort, Atticus tried his hardest to provide the

best defense for Tom Robinson.

5. Why does Lee use Miss Maudie to explain Atticus’ role in the community?

A child of Scout’s age is not sophisticated enough to understand, and therefore explain, that

Atticus is not an average person but a truly remarkable man. Therefore, having a character

such as Miss Maudie close to the children allows Lee to remind the reader of Atticus’


6. What does Bob Ewell’s confrontation with Atticus foreshadow?

Although Ewell should be happy that Tom was found guilty, he is furious because Atticus

made a fool of him on the witness stand. This foreshadows that the violence may not be over,

and Ewell will continue to stir up the town.

Chapter 23

1. Describe how Atticus’ response to Ewell’s threat is consistent with his character.

Atticus shows his compassion for all people when he insists that the children try to

understand the situation from Ewell’s perspective. Atticus explains that Ewell spit in his face

because Atticus had taken away, “…his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any

to begin with.” (p. 218) Atticus demonstrates his belief that all people are basically good

by saying that once Ewell publicly confronted him, they will not hear any more from him.

Atticus shows his protective attitude toward his children when he says he would rather Ewell

get mad at him than harm his children, which he does not believe Ewell would do.

2. What does Jem misunderstand about the length of the jury’s deliberations? What is the

significance of this jury’s deliberations and the effect they have on Jem?

Jem thought that the jury did not take much time to decide on their verdict. However, Atticus

sees hope in the number of hours this jury took to come to what he called an inevitable

verdict. He explains that most juries in a case like this only take a few minutes. Jem cannot

see beyond his feelings of betrayal, because the jury did not vote based on the facts.

3. Why does Lee select a Cunningham to be the juror who cast the not-guilty votes?

By having a Cunningham serve as the juror who kept the jury deliberations going, Lee

provides the reader with an example of Atticus’ belief that every person is inherently good,

and even an uneducated white man can see justice is more important than prejudice. When

Jem acknowledges his confusion about the Cunninghams wanting to kill Tom and then

fighting to set him free, Atticus reminds Jem that he and Scout helped Atticus earn the respect

of Walter’s father the night at the jail, which benefited Tom in the jury room.

4. How does Lee use humor to change the tone of Atticus’ conversation with the children

about the jury’s verdict?

When the children are curious about the relationship of the Cunningham on the jury to

their friend Walter, Atticus claims they are double first cousins. Then Scout figures out that

her children with Dill (whom she expects to marry) would be double first cousins of Jem’s

children if Jem were to marry Dill’s sister.

5. Describe how Aunt Alexandra’s response to Scout’s comment about Walter Cunningham

is consistent with her character.

Scout says that she wants to invite Walter to dinner and to play after school, but Aunt

Alexandra reminds Scout that the Cunninghams are not their “…kind of folks.” (p. 224)

This is consistent with Aunt Alexandra’s belief that the Finch family is part of the upper class

because of their heritage, and as such, they must refrain from associating with the lower


6. What evidence of Jem’s increasing maturity does Lee include in this chapter?

When Scout is upset by Aunt Alexandra’s reference to the Cunninghams as trash, Jem

explains to Scout the four class distinctions in Maycomb and tells her how each class hates

the one below it. From Jem’s explanation of Aunt Alexandra’s repeated emphasis on the Finch

family heritage, the reader can infer that he is beginning to feel some pity for her. Finally,

Jem shows his distain for this class structure by sharing his conjecture that Boo Radley stays

inside the house all the time to avoid having to deal with these prejudices.

Note to Teacher: The students may say that Jem shows Scout the hair growing on his chest as

a sign that he is maturing. You may want to remind them that physical growth and maturity

do not always go hand-in-hand.

Chapter 24

1. Explain the satire that Lee uses in this chapter.

The women in Aunt Alexandra’s missionary circle are very sympathetic toward the

unfortunate Mrunas in Africa, but they are extremely cruel when talking about their own

servants, who are of similar heritage as the Mrunas. Scout understands the hypocrisy of what

these women are saying. Aunt Alexandra is very pleased with Scout’s help in serving at the

tea, and she is particularly happy that Scout is dressed as a young lady for once; however,

she completely misses the cruelty that Mrs. Merriweather demonstrates when talking about


2. Explain the irony of Mrs. Merriweather’s comments about getting the preacher to help

“…her lead a Christian life for those children from here on out.” (p. 231)

This is an example of situational irony because when Mrs. Merriweather explains to Scout

that she’s referring to Tom Robinson’s wife, Mrs. Merriweather is unaware that Scout knows

more about Tom’s wife than Mrs. Merriweather does. From attending Calpurnia’s church

when Reverend Sykes took up the collection to help the Robinsons, Scout knows that Mrs.

Robinson leads a Christian life, so she assumes Mrs. Merriweather is talking about Mayella


3. Why does Miss Maudie get so angry at Mrs. Merriweather?

Mrs. Merriweather is criticizing Atticus for defending Tom Robinson, because she believes

that Atticus’ statements in court are responsible for stirring up the African-American

community. Miss Maudie is angry at both what Mrs. Merriweather is saying and the fact

that she is criticizing Atticus while sitting in his home, eating his food, and talking with his


4. What is Lee alluding to when Mrs. Merriweather says, “Mrs. Roosevelt’s lost her mind—

just plain lost her mind coming down to Birmingham and tryin’ to sit with ’em.…”

(p. 234)

In the late 1930s, Eleanor Roosevelt visited a meeting of the Southern Conference for Human

Welfare in Birmingham, Alabama. During that meeting, Mrs. Roosevelt continued to sit with

the African-Americans after the state police told her she was breaking Alabama’s segregation


5. What does Mrs. Merriweather mean when she says, “It’s never entered that wool of hers

that the only reason I keep her is because this depression’s on…?” (p. 233)

Mrs. Merriweather is cruelly referring to her African-American servant’s hair when she

says, “…that wool of hers…” and is complaining that Sophy has been unhappy since Tom

Robinson’s trial. Mrs. Merriweather claims that she has been kind toward Sophy, because she

has not fired her during the depression; however, Mrs. Merriweather does not even seem to be

aware of how prejudiced and condescending she sounds.

6. How does Aunt Alexandra’s reaction to Tom’s death mirror Jem’s distress after the trial?

Like Jem, Aunt Alexandra is extremely upset, and she questions the actions of the white

people of Maycomb, claiming that they are responsible for harming another person. The

difference is that Aunt Alexandra blames them for harming Atticus, whereas Jem blames them

for Tom’s conviction. Both Jem and Aunt Alexandra are upset about the harmful effect that the

people’s attitudes and actions have on Atticus.

7. How do Aunt Alexandra, Miss Maudie, and Scout follow Atticus’ example by returning

to the missionary circle? Why is this so significant for Scout?

This exemplifies Atticus’ belief that courage means continuing to do something diffi cult when

it would be easier to quit. All three of them return to the party as if nothing has happened

other than Calpurnia leaving with Atticus. They play the role of the proper Southern lady by

serving the guests tea and cookies, and they join the conversation of the party. In particular,

Scout willingly assumes the role of a young lady, rather than resenting the fact that her aunt

has asked her to return to the party.

8. What literary device does Lee use when Scout is describing how she pumped the organ

in the chapel at Finch’s Landing? What is Scout’s purpose for this description?

This is an example of a metaphor. A pump organ has bellows that must be filled with air

before the organ can make any sound. If the organist presses a note without pumping the

bellows, the note will fade into silence. Scout is comparing Mrs. Merriweather to a pump

organ that has run out of air; Mrs. Merriweather had talked long enough that she ran out of

air, so she had to stop talking until she could inhale sufficiently.

Chapter 25

1. What is the significance of Jem’s reaction to Scout when she starts to kill the roly-poly?

Killing bugs is something that Jem and Scout always did as children. However, Jem is more

aware of how vulnerable lesser creatures are—in this case, the roly-poly, but in his recent

experiences, Tom Robinson. Therefore, Jem does not want Scout to kill the roly-poly, because

it cannot defend itself.

2. What does Lee show through Maycomb’s lack of concern about Tom’s death?

Lee shows that Maycomb feels Tom’s death justifies their racist attitudes. None of the people

seem surprised that Tom tried to escape, because that is the stereotypical view they have of


3. What can the reader infer about Lee’s use of “…the senseless slaughter of songbirds…”

in Underwood’s editorial?

The reader can infer that Lee is equating Tom Robinson to the innocent mockingbird that

Atticus forbids his children to shoot. Tom symbolizes an innocent victim killed by a force

stronger than he is.

4. When describing her thoughts about Underwood’s editorial, how does Scout show that

she has not lost all of her childhood innocence, but is beginning to understand the

implications of racism?

Her confusion about Underwood calling Tom’s death a senseless killing shows that she

initially accepts his guilty verdict at face value. She feels that because Tom was given a trial,

his death is not senseless. However, by realizing that Tom was sentenced to death the minute

Mayella accused him of any inappropriate behavior, Scout shows that she understands the

power that white people have over African-Americans simply because of the color of their


5. How does Lee create suspense at the end of this chapter? What does Ewell’s comment


Jem hears Miss Stephanie gossiping with Aunt Alexandra about Bob Ewell’s comments when

he fi nds out that Tom Robinson is dead. Ewell’s comment that there are now only two more to

go foreshadows his plans of violence against two other participants in the trial. Jem assumes

that one of them is Atticus, but the reader is left to guess who the other person is.

Chapter 26

1. Briefly describe the examples that Lee uses in this chapter to show Scout’s continuing

character development. What does each example illustrate about Scout?

Scout’s reflections about three different incidents show that she is becoming more

compassionate and thoughtful about her own actions, but she is still innocent enough that she

does not yet understand the inconsistency of other people’s actions and attitudes. First, Scout

has matured enough to regret the way that Jem, Dill, and she bothered the Radleys during the

previous summer, but she is still puzzled by the gifts that Boo Radley left in the tree. Second,

when Scout thinks about Atticus’ re-election, she understands that the citizens of Maycomb

do not blame Jem and her for their father’s actions, but she wonders why they continue to

re-elect Atticus if they do not like what he did when defending Tom Robinson. Third, Scout

is quite confused by her teacher’s condemnation of Hitler’s atrocities and prejudices, because

she knows that Miss Gates thought Robinson’s conviction would ensure that the African-

Americans would know their place in Maycomb.

2. What does Scout mean when she says, “…time was playing tricks on…?” her (p. 243)

Scout’s memories of Jem, Dill, and her trying to get Boo Radley to come out of his house seem

like they took place years ago, but she realizes that it was only the previous summer. So

much has happened since then that she is not sure how many summers have passed since they

focused all their energies on Boo. This shows the impact that the events surrounding the trial

have had on her.

3. What type of literary device does Lee use in the following statement?

Perhaps Atticus was right, but the events of the summer hung over us like

smoke in a closed room. (p. 243)

This is an example of a simile, in which two subjects are compared, generally using the

connecting words “like” or “as.” The purpose of a simile is to compare a subject unfamiliar

to the reader—in this case, the events of Scout’s summer—with something familiar to the

reader—the way smoke settles in an unventilated room.

4. Why did Jem get so angry at Scout?

Jem has been wrestling with the anger and betrayal he feels because the jury convicted Tom

Robinson. By mentioning Miss Gates’ reaction to the trial, Scout reminds Jem of all his

negative feelings, which he does not know how to handle. His natural response is frustration

and anger at Scout because she is the person who causes him to remember all his anger,

betrayal, and uncertainty.

5. What is Lee’s purpose for re-introducing Boo Radley in this chapter?

Not only is Lee showing the reader that the children no longer see Boo Radley as a horrible

monster, but she is also reminding the reader that Boo Radley still lives next door and may be

brought back into the storyline in future chapters.

Chapter 27

1. How does Lee use other Maycomb citizens to build suspense?

Lee shows the reader that life in Maycomb has not returned to normal as Atticus had

predicted it would. Each incident involves someone associated with the trial, but none are

members of the Finch family. First, Bob Ewell accuses Atticus of getting him fi red from his

WPA job, which he held very briefly after the trial. This is the reader’s introduction to Miss

Ruth, yet Lee makes the point that Miss Ruth is sufficiently scared by what Ewell says, that

she leaves her job to go tell Atticus. Second, someone tries to break into Judge Taylor’s home

at a time when Judge Taylor is usually at church. Lee does not tell the reader who the person

is or what damage is done—only that Judge Taylor is sufficiently concerned that he sits with

his shotgun in his lap. Third, Bob Ewell harasses Helen Robinson so much that she begins

walking an extra mile to avoid any confrontation. However, Link Deas intimidates Ewell

enough that he finally leaves Helen alone.

2. What is Lee’s purpose for the allusion to the WPA and the Ladies’ Law? What do

they signify?

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was a governmental agency created during the

Depression to provide employment to millions of US citizens that otherwise would have had

no job. It was extremely rare that anyone lost a job with the WPA. The Ladies’ Law was an

Alabama statute that criminalized the use of obscene or abusive language within hearing

distance of any woman or young girl. By saying that Ewell lost his WPA job and having Deas

threaten to enforce the Ladies’ Law against Ewell, Lee reminds the reader how despicable

Ewell really is.

3. What does Atticus’ reaction to Ewell’s problems with the WPA and Link Deas indicate to

the reader about Atticus’ character?

At this point, the reader should begin to wonder if Atticus is being naïve, since Ewell

continues to make threats against everyone remotely involved in the trail. The reader sees

that Atticus still believes that Ewell is not a threat to the Finches, even after the episodes at

the welfare office, Judge Taylor’s house, and Link Deas’ house. Atticus is single-minded in his

ability to justify Ewell’s actions and in his belief that every person is inherently good.

4. Briefly describe Scout’s relationship with Aunt Alexandra at this point in the story.

Scout has matured enough that she no longer fights her aunt’s attempts to teach her

appropriate manners for a Southern young lady. For example, Scout accepts her role as

Aunt Alexandra’s helper in the missionary society’s afternoon teas. She also shows concern

when Aunt Alexandra decides she needs to go to bed after working on the school Halloween


5. How does Lee use humor to soften the seriousness of the prank that was played on the

two vulnerable sisters on the previous Halloween?

The prank itself involved breaking into the sisters’ home and moving all of the furniture

from the living room into the cellar. However, Lee paints a comical picture of the incident

beginning with the sisters’ nicknames—Miss Tutti and Miss Frutti. Tutti-frutti literally is a

flavor of sweet, usually ice cream, in which a variety of candied fruits and nuts are mixed;

however, it is often used to mean a person who is mixed-up, easily confused, or crazy. The

sisters consistently appear to be confused about what happened. Although both of the sisters

are deaf, they swear that they heard Syrians drive up, stomp around the house, and steal

their furniture. The sisters also claim that the thieves were “dark.” (p. 252) When Heck

Tate disagrees with their assertions, Miss Frutti claims that she would recognize a Maycomb

accent anywhere, although her hearing is bad enough that she uses a megaphone so she can

hear anyone.

6. How does Lee re-create the sense of foreboding at the end of the chapter?

Lee fi rst uses Aunt Alexandra to create apprehension by saying, “…somebody just walked

over my grave…” (p. 253), which means that she got a sudden feeling something bad

is about to happen. Then Scout refers to Jem and her starting their “…longest journey

together…” (p. 254), when in reality, they are only walking to the school.

Chapter 28

1. How does Lee use light and darkness to create the tone at the beginning of this chapter?

Scout describes the night as very dark, with no moon. Even though they can see the lights of

the school, these lights do not help them; in fact, the lights prevent them from being able to

see where they are stepping. They regret that they did not think to bring a flashlight. It is so

dark that both Jem and Scout are scared briefly when Cecil Jacobs jumps out from behind the

oak tree.

2. What is the significance of “…the solitary mocker…in blissful unawareness of whose

tree he sat in…?” (p. 254)

Lee is referring to the innocent mockingbird sitting in the Radley’s tree singing the songs

of various other birds. The mockingbird symbolizes innocence, and Lee is reminding the

reader that innocence still exists in this story. However, the reader is left to fi gure out whose

innocence Lee is referencing. the mockingbird is innocent enough not to realize it is sitting in

a tree on the Radley’s property.

3. What is Lee’s purpose for having Scout fall asleep backstage while waiting to make her


By having Scout fall asleep, Lee sets the stage for the children walking home alone in the

dark, with Scout limited by her costume. Because Scout falls asleep, she misses her entrance

and ends up running on stage during the finale, and the absurdity of a ham appearing

suddenly causes the audience to laugh. Scout is so embarrassed that she waits backstage until

everyone has left, and she does not change clothes, but remains hidden inside her costume.

4. How does Lee increase the level of suspense as the children are walking home?

Lee again draws on darkness to create suspense. Because Scout is in her costume, it is very

dark, she cannot see very well, and Jem has to lead her through the darkness. When Scout

realizes that she left her shoes at school, they turn around to get them, only to see the lights

at the school go out, which emphasizes that they are all alone out there. Because of her

costume, Scout cannot see what is happening when they get attacked.

Lee also uses silence to increase the suspense. First Jem thinks he hears something, but when

they stop, it is completely quiet. Then they both think they hear something, probably Cecil,

and holler at him; but again, it is completely silent. Finally, they hear the soft swish of

someone wearing cotton pants as they walk, but the person does not speak to them.

5. How does Scout’s role as the narrator affect the reader’s sense of the attack on the


Scout’s costume prevents her from seeing what is happening, being able to escape, and

therefore, increasing her sense of disorientation and helplessness, which in turn increases

the suspense for the reader. Because she cannot see, she is only able to describe the attack for

the reader based on what she hears and feels fi rsthand. If this incident were told in the third

person, the reader would know who attacks the children and who saves them.

6. How does Scout realize that Aunt Alexandra really does love her and accept her for who

she is?

Although Aunt Alexandra calls her “darling” two times (p. 264), the act that makes Scout

realize Aunt Alexandra loves her is that she gives Scout her overalls to put on once she gets

out of the costume. Aunt Alexandra hates Scout’s overalls more than anything, because in

Alexandra’s mind, only boys should wear overalls. However, Scout sees the overalls as a

representation of who she is—a tomboy.

7. How does Atticus show his own innocence when talking to Heck Tate?

Atticus says that he has no idea who would harm his children like this. However, it is obvious

to the reader that the person who attacked his children is Bob Ewell.

8. What clues does Lee give the reader about Ewell’s death? What conclusions can the

reader draw from these clues?

Lee says that Ewell has a kitchen knife stuck in his ribs, and Scout notes that a countryman

is standing in the corner of Jem’s bedroom whom Scout assumes is the man that saved them.

Chapter 29

1. Why does Aunt Alexandra feel responsible for what happened?

She remembers that she had the premonition that something bad was going to happen, but

she dismissed it. If she had paid attention to her feeling, then she would have been able to

prevent the attack by going to the play with the children or by having Atticus drive them to

and from the school.

2. What clues does Lee give the reader about how Atticus feels? What do Atticus’

comments tell the reader about his beliefs?

Lee gives the reader several clues that Atticus feels guilty for allowing his children to be

attacked by Bob Ewell. He says he always plays his radio too loud, implying that if he played

it softer he would have heard his children screaming. He also comments on how Scout’s

costume is completely destroyed. Atticus then says he cannot understand anyone harming a

child. He is trying to reconcile his belief in the inherent goodness of all people with Ewell’s

evilness. He feels guilty, because he knows that his blindness to Ewell’s threats almost cost his

children their lives.

3. What clues does Lee give Scout so she can realize who the countryman really is?

Lee has Scout notice the man’s sickly white hands; his face as white as his hands; his delicate

temples; his gray, colorless eyes; and his thin, feathery hair. Scout draws the conclusion that

the person has never spent time outside.

4. What is the symbolism of Scout’s reference to Arthur Radley’s feathery hair?

The reference to feathers symbolizes the innocence of Radley, which would have been

destroyed if he had to face a public trial—just like the innocence of a mockingbird being


Chapter 30

1. What does Scout mean when she says, “…then I understood. The living room lights

were awfully strong?” (p. 271)

Scout assumes that Boo prefers being in the dark since he never goes outside. She supports

Atticus’ decision to go to the porch by leading Boo to the rocking chair in the darkest part of

the porch.

2. How does Lee help Scout see Boo Radley as a human being rather than the monster that

she and Jem had always considered him?

Lee has several of the adults in the room treat Boo as a normal human being, thus

demystifying Boo for Scout. For example, Atticus introduces Scout to Arthur (Boo) as he

would any other human being. Then Dr. Reynolds says hello to Arthur as if he frequently

visits the Radley house. Dr Reynolds’ acknowledgement of Arthur makes Scout realize that

Boo probably gets sick just like everyone else does.

3. Why does Heck Tate want to cover up the real cause of Ewell’s death? How does Atticus

misinterpret this?

Heck wants to say that Ewell fell on his own knife, because Tate does not want to go to court

to prove that Ewell was killed in order to protect the children. Atticus assumes that Tate

wants to protect Jem from having to go to court, but Tate is not protecting Jem.

4. What does Atticus’ refusal to avoid a trial for Jem show about his character?

Atticus will not bend the law, even for his own child. As he said in his summation at the trial,

the judicial process is the great equalizer. He believes in justice for all, including his own son.

5. Briefly discuss Scout’s reference to the mockingbird when Atticus asks if she

understands Tate’s decision.

Scout is comparing Arthur Radley to a mockingbird. Arthur is truly innocent, like the

mockingbird, and even though any jury would find him innocent of murder, making Arthur

go through a highly publicized trial would kill him emotionally, just like shooting a


6. Why is Tate so adamant about protecting Arthur Radley? How does Lee show the reader

Tate’s intent?

Tate knows that he did not protect Tom Robinson from the evil of Ewell’s accusations, so he

believes that Ewell got his just reward by dying when he tried to kill Atticus’ children. Tate

wants to stand up and do the right thing this time by protecting Arthur from the publicity, as

seen in his statement, “…let the dead bury the dead.…” (p. 276)

7. Which character learns the most about human nature in this chapter?

 Some students may say that Atticus

learns the most because he realizes that there are some times when it is best to bend the law.

Although he had told Scout this early in the story when explaining why the Ewell children

did not have to attend school, he did not really agree with this view until tonight. Other

students may say that Scout learned the most, because she understands more clearly than her

father does why Tate is so adamant about reporting Ewell’s death as self-inflicted.

Chapter 31

1. What is the significance of Scout’s guiding Arthur Radley through the house and then to

his own home?

Scout has finally realized the importance of being a Southern lady and kind hostess. As she

stands on the Radleys’ porch, she also understands what it really means to see the world

through someone else’s eyes; she sees herself and Jem running to meet their father each day,

all the neighbors going about their daily business, a boy carrying a fishing pole, two children

shivering in front of his house on a cold winter night, etc.

2. What does Scout mean when she says, “Autumn again, and Boo’s children needed him?”

(p. 279)

Scout knows how much Arthur cares about her and Jem. Arthur does not have any children of

his own, but he has watched Scout and Jem grow up. When Arthur saw them being attacked

by Bob Ewell, he acted as if he were their father—he risked his life to protect them, knowing

that he could possibly be taken to jail or court if he hurt Ewell.

3. Why does Lee have Atticus read The Gray Ghost to Scout?

Lee uses The Gray Ghost to review the events in Scout’s life over the past year—Scout and

Jem thought of Boo Radley as a madman because they never saw him, just like the people

thought Stoner’s Boy was causing the trouble in The Gray Ghost. However, once Scout met

Arthur, she realized that he was a very kind person, just like the characters who met Stoner’s

Boy in The Gray Ghost.

Lee also uses the book as a way for Scout to explain to Atticus that she was not scared while

Ewell was attacking them. She did not get scared until she had to tell the story to Heck Tate,

just like getting scared when reading a book.

4. What is the significance of Atticus putting Scout to bed after she falls asleep in Jem’s


By having Atticus undress Scout and put her to bed, Lee is reminding the reader that Scout is

just a little girl. Even though she has learned quite a lot about human nature, Scout is still a