To Kill a Mockingbird Chapters 28-31 Summary

    Chapter 28 begins with Scout and Jem's walk to the pageant at school. On the way, Scout's classmate, Cecil Jacobs, jumps out of the darkness and scares them. When they arrive, Scout and Cecil wander the school, eating snacks and going through the haunted house. Just as the pageant is about to start, Scout falls asleep in her costume. She wakes up, having missed her queue to go on stage, so she runs out at the very end of the pageant. Many people in the crowd laugh, but the teacher in charge of the pageant accuses Scout of ruining the whole thing. Scout is embarrassed and ashamed. Jem waits with her backstage until most of the people have gone home from the school.

    On the way home from the pageant, Jem hears noises behind them. However, he and Scout think it must just be Cecil trying to scare them again. When they call out to Cecil, they hear no answer. Suddenly, Jem tells Scout to run, and they hear someone running after them. Scout falls, and Jem helps her up and pulls her to the road. Then, the assailant pulls Jem back. Scout hears a terrible crunching sound and, at the same time, her brother screams. Scout doubles back to help him and someone grabs her. But, then, the attacker is pulled away from her. Scout searches for Jem in the darkness but only finds a man lying on the ground. Frightened, she stumbles home and, as she approaches her house, she sees someone carrying Jem.

    Inside the house, Alexandra calls for the doctor and helps Scout out of her costume. Atticus calls the sheriff. The doctor confirms that Jem has broken his arm, but he assures Scout and the rest of the family that Jem will be okay. Scout goes to see Jem and notices that there is a strange man in the room-the one who carried Jem home-that she does not recognize. The sheriff arrives shortly after with the news that Bob Ewell was the attacker and that he is dead, a knife in his ribs.

    In Chapter 29, Scout tells everyone what happened. They examine her costume and see a slash mark where Bob had tried to stab her. As she tells her story and how Jem was carried home, Scout turns to the stranger in the room. She realizes that this man is Boo Radley.

    Scout goes to sit with Boo on the porch, and she hears Heck Tate-the sheriff-arguing with Atticus. Heck knows that Boo was the one who killed Bob because he was trying to protect the children, and he insists on telling everyone that Bob fell on his knife. But Atticus doesn't want his son hiding from the law if he was involved. Eventually, they decide to let it be, since one innocent man-Tom Robinson-had died because of Ewell already.

    In the final chapter of the novel, Scout takes Boo home, admitting that she never saw him again after that point. She reflects on Atticus' earlier commenting about putting yourself in someone else's shoes, and she tries to see things from Boo's perspective. She returns home, then, and falls asleep as Atticus reads to her.

    With the final chapters of the book, Lee masterfully foreshadows Ewell's attack on the children. The pageant is held to prevent trouble during Halloween, creating a suggestion that something bad could in fact happen on this holiday. Additionally, Cecil Jacob's jumping out at Jem and Scout is intended to be eerie, as is their walking home by themselves late at night.

    Additionally, the revelation that the attacker is Bob Ewell will probably come as no surprise to the reader given his previous behavior and his vow for vengeance. However, the fact that he would stoop so low as to attack Atticus' children makes him even more deplorable in his final moments. His attack highlights the fact that, though Atticus is an admirable character, his na├»ve trust in a man who was clearly determined to be his enemy was a profound mistake. However, it is certainly ironic that Bob Ewell, the reason an innocent man-Tom Robinson-lost his life then becomes a victim of his own desire for petty vengeance. With this action, Lee seems to restore some semblance of a balance between good and evil; she suggests that, sometimes, there is a cruel justice in the world.

    The long-awaited appearance of Boo Radley in this section is also an important point for Scout's development. At first, Scout doesn't recognize him. Throughout the novel, she has attempted to make him little more than a phantom-like childhood story. However, as he stands there, having just saved her life and that of her brother, she sees him for the first time not as a character in a story but as a real human being. In this final section, Scout recalls Atticus's words about putting herself in another person's shoes, and she seems to grasp their meaning for the first time when she walks Boo home. She also notes that Heck Tate's decision not to place the death of Ewell on Radley is similar to the idea of not killing a mockingbird; to accuse Radley would be harming an innocent person who does not deserve the scrutiny. The novel ends on this optimistic note, seeming to suggest that though there certainly is evil in the world that there is also hope and goodness, as Scout clearly sees goodness in Boo Radley.

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