To Kill a Mockingbird Chapters 24-27 Summary

    In Chapter 24, Aunt Alexandra invites over the women from her missionary circle to have tea with her. Scout, bored because Jem and Dill have gone to swim, joins her. Scout actually wears a dress and helps Calpurnia bring in the tea. The women gossip for a time, talking in particular about Mayella Ewell and how their black servants have been acting angry since the trial. They even go so far as to allude to Atticus in their small talk although, for once, Alexandra sticks up for him. The entire tone of their conversation amongst the women is petty and gossipy.

    Atticus enters the home, and asks Alexandra to come into the kitchen. He tells her, Scout, Miss Maudie, and Calpurnia that Tom Robinson tried to escape from prison and, as a result, was shot seventeen times. Atticus asks Calpurnia to come with him to break the news to Tom's wife.

    After he leaves, Alexandra sits for a time with Scout and Miss Maudie in the kitchen. Alexandra is angry that so much responsibility in the town falls on Atticus' shoulders. However, Miss Maudie reassures her by saying that Maycomb trusts Atticus to always do the right thing. And, that said, they all go back out to the tea party.

    In chapter 25, it has now become September. Sitting on the porch, Scout almost squashes a roly-poly. Jem stops her at the last minute, telling her to leave it alone because the bug has never done her any harm. Clearly, this is an echo of Atticus's earlier comment about not harming a mockingbird for the same reason. This is surely a sign of Jem's increasing maturity, though Scout writes it off as him being too "girly."

    Scout and Jem begin talking about Dill and, after one thing leads another, Jem tells how on the night Atticus went to tell Tom Robinson's wife what had happened, Jem had convinced him to be allowed to accompany him. Jem recounts what he saw and how Helen Robinson seemed to know what was coming before Atticus even told her. She fainted when she saw him coming.

    The drama of Tom Robinson's death didn't occupy Maycomb for long. People in the community tended to write it off as "typical" for a black man to try an illogical escape. Hardly anyone takes up for Tom Robinson, except for the owner of the newspaper, Mr. Underwood. Mr. Underwood writes an article about Tom's death, taking the position that Robinson was innocent and had been unjustly accused and that Tom never had any hope for justice. Meanwhile, Miss Stephanie tells Aunt Alexandra that she overheard Bob Ewell say after Tom's death "one more, two to go." The implication is, of course, that he is seeking revenge on certain people.

    Soon enough, school begins once again for Jem and Scout. As usual, each day on their way to school they pass the Radley house. However, unlike with school years past, they aren't afraid of or mystified by the house. Things are not much better for Jem and Scout at school, however. Scout notices that many of her classmates share the same racist attitude as their parents. Even her teacher seems hypocritical. Scout is particularly bothered one day when her teacher, Miss Gates, explains what Hitler has been doing to the Jews in Europe. Miss Gates condemns this action, which confuses Scout because she remembers, clearly, seeing Miss Gates at Tom's trial and hearing her say that the blacks in the community needed to be taught a "lesson." Scout tries to ask Jem about this, but he says he never wants to talk about the trial again. She tries to get an explanation out of Atticus as well, but she can't seem to get one that satisfies her.

    In Chapter 27, Bob Ewell reemerges, seeming intent on making trouble for anyone connected with the trial. He shows up at Judge Taylor's house, and the judge sees a shadow creeping away. Bob Ewell also begins following Tom's wife, Helen, saying obscenities to her at a distance. Ewell even blames Atticus for a recently lost job. Atticus doesn't think that Bob will do any real harm; however, Aunt Alexandra is concerned about Ewell's behavior.

    Also in this chapter, the town is putting on a Halloween party at the school. The party also features an "agricultural pageant," in which every child dresses up as food. Scout dresses up as a ham, and she and Jem walk to the school. Neither Atticus nor Alexandra plan to attend because they are both tired.

    This section, for the first time, presents a different view of Aunt Alexandra. At the tea party, the women openly refer to Atticus in a derogatory manner. Aunt Alexandra is defiant toward their attitude. Additionally, once Atticus delivers the news about Tom Robinson, Scout and Alexandra must stand united, putting on a strong face in front of the other women. For the first time, Scout is able to relate to her aunt.

    Meanwhile, the ideas of growing up once again are markedly apparent in Jem and Scout. Jem has clearly taken the results of the trial to heart, finding himself hurt with the realization that society is not always just and fair. His telling Scout not to kill the bug because its harmless is a clear internalization of Atticus's lessons. Scout, however, hasn't quite entered the adult world, unable to understand Jem's reasoning behind this simple action.

    This idea is furthered when Jem and Scout return to school. For the first time, as the children pass the Radley place, they are not filled with fear. Their world has been broadened, and their silly childhood fears have been largely left behind, replaced with the knowledge that there are bigger, meaning things at large in society, like racism and injustice. Also, this might suggest to the reader that there are bigger dangers lurking in Maycomb, presumably Bob Ewell.

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