Atticus is very upset by the recent turn of events. Bob, it seems had really meant what he had warned. And for Atticus, his children’s lives are undoubtedly far more precious than his own.
Scout is made to relate the events again. They perceive that it had been the chicken wire loop that had saved Scout’s life. Scout then points out that somebody else had also been at the scene of the incident. The same man is present in the room. From his thin frame and blank look, Scout realizes that the man had been none other than Boo Radley.
Bob Ewell’s vindictive nature is finally realized. He is too weak a character to be able to face Atticus in the daytime, and even to frighten his children, he has to take the recourse of a few drinks.
As Scout relates the events, Heck Tate and Atticus realize that Bob Ewell actually meant to hurt the children seriously. The person to save the situation had been the hitherto unseen and unknown Arthur Radley. Scout, who had the long cherished wish of wanting to see him at least once has actually had her life saved by this same man. Arthur’s physical appearance and behavior reveals the fact that he has never ventured out of the house in the daytime. It is the children’s greatest fortune that Boo had come at the right moment to save their lives.
The men seat themselves in the front porch. Scout is thrilled that her lifetime ambition of seeing Boo on her front porch has ultimately been fulfilled.
Atticus perceives that Jem had probably killed Ewell in self-defense, but the sheriff insists that he had not killed him. Atticus feels that the sheriff is trying to save Jem: he does not want the burden of a lie on his and Jem’s shoulder. But Heck Tate insists that a small boy like Jem couldn’t possibly have handled such a big knife, and that Ewell had probably fallen on the knife and killed himself. Atticus is still unsure but Heck Tate has made the up his mind. The truth is that Arthur Radley had killed Ewell but Heck Tate realizes that once the people come to know of it, all the ladies would pester Boo with some kind of food (as is the custom for appreciating one who has rid the society of some evil). Thus, he would be pushed into the limelight which he definitely does not want. So the truth should be squelched and left that way.
Scout sums it up precisely, saying that it would be like shooting a mockingbird. Atticus thanks Arthur Radley for having saved his children.
Atticus, at first certain that his son had killed Ewell in self-defense feels it is wrong to hide the truth. Atticus is a man who would never wish his son to live a life with the burden of a hidden truth. It is finally understood that Heck Tate is insisting that Ewell killed himself not to save Jem but only so that Boo would be spared from the publicity he so keenly avoids. It is anybody’s guess that for having killed an inherently evil man, as Bob Ewell, he would have been smothered by public attention, which he obviously never wanted.
Scout’s comparison of Boo to a mockingbird is absolutely accurate. Since mockingbirds only give enjoyment and never create problem, it is a sin to shoot them. Similarly, Boo had always been a mild character, not interfering in anybody’s business. To harm him, by bringing him into the limelight would therefore, be a sin.
Boo is led to Jem’s bed to wish him goodnight. Scout is very protective and careful with Boo. When the latter requests Scout to escort him home and Scout does so, but by making it seem as though it is he who is leading her. After he goes home, Scout never sees him again.
Scout sits with Aunt Alexandra near Jem’s bed for a while. Atticus is reading out from a book, The Grey Ghost to Jem who has fallen asleep. Gradually, Scout too falls asleep. Atticus leads her to her own bed and returns to Jem’s room to remain there till morning.
The final chapter neatly rounds up all the incidents of the novel. Boo is never seen after that particular night. It is almost as if he had come out of his house that once, only to fulfill Boo’s dream of seeing him once, and then had once again disappeared into his solitude. Scout’s protective demeanor towards Boo is touching. Scout too has matured by the end of the novel and has lost her initial fright of Boo. In fact, she even understands his mental and physical state and therefore guides him home, holding him by the crook of his arm. After reaching him home, Scout looks back at the neighborhood and recollects the past events associated with it.
Atticus feels the need to be with Jem and so he sits with him while he sleeps peacefully. The ensuing conversation between Atticus and Scout again reveals his profound understanding of the children. Atticus does not wish to read out the horror story to her, as she has had her share of fright. But she insists that he go on. Even while Atticus completes the horror story, he tells her that ultimately most people in this world are nice. On this secure and positive note, the novel draws to a close.