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.
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.
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
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.
1. Why does Lee begin this chapter with a description of Tom trying to take the oath in
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 explainswhy 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.
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
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 forAtticus to restate his beliefs that justice is more
important than any personal beliefs.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.…”
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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 childrenare 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
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.
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
1. What does Scout mean when she says, “…then I understood. The livingroom 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
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
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 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.
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?”
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 readThe 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