Chapter 23

Scout feels that her father should not have listened to Bob Ewell quietly; instead he should have shot him. But Jem makes her realize that Atticus never carried a gun, believing it to be a needless invitation for someone to shoot one. Atticus realizes that his children are sincerely concerned for his safety, and so appeals to them to try and understand Ewell’s point of view. After all, his credibility had been destroyed. Atticus, finally makes them believe that Ewell would do no harm. Tom’s case had reached the higher court and the chances of him being let off this time are pretty good.

Jem is still upset that the jury convicted Tom. Atticus makes him realize that though ideally, a jury should be fair, very often the members carry their prejudices into the courtroom and so their verdict is shadowed. He makes them realize that the jury actually took a few hours to reach their verdict showing that there is hope in this world.

Aunt Alexandra refuses to allow a Cunningham into the house and Scout almost has a fight with her. Jem takes her out, and on the pretext of showing the newly sprouted hair on his chest, implores her not to let auntie aggravate her. He then says that maybe, after all this, he can understand why Boo Radley does not come out of his house; probably because he wants to stay in and avoid contact with this dreadful world.

Ewell is such a perverted character that it is very probable that he would try to harm Atticus for having defended a black and for having grilled him and his daughter at court. The children’s fear, therefore, is justified especially when the reader finds Ewell take his revenge, later on in the story. But Atticus at this moment feels that what Ewell is only serving empty threats.

Jem has shown amazing maturity during these trying times. He even mediates between Scout and Aunt Alexandra hoping for peace in the house. On discussing the various types of people in this world, his comment on Boo choosing to stay inside his house, touches a chord. It seems better to stay at home and be labeled a madman, rather than face a world full of evil and injustice.

Chapter 24

Aunt Alexandra has her regular Missionary Circle Meet at the house. Scout has been asked to join them for refreshments. Stephanie Crawford, in her usual cattiness, teases Scout about being present in the courtroom. They all discuss Tom’s trial and are general about their attitudes towards the blacks. When indirect comments about Atticus are passed Miss Maudie quells them icily, for which Aunt Alexandra is very grateful.

Later, Atticus enters, asking to borrow Calpurnia for a while. It turns out that Tom is dead: he had been shot as he had been trying to break away from the jail. Atticus needs Calpurnia to break the news to Tom’s wife and to tend to her. Even Aunt Alexandra is shaken on hearing this and is deeply sympathetic towards her brother.

As expected, shrewd remarks about Atticus’ defense are passed in Atticus’ house itself. But Miss Maudie and Aunt Alexandra are able to handle the situation tactfully.

The news of Tom’s death is shattering. Atticus is dejected since he had been quite sure that they would have won the case in the higher court. But it seems as if Tom had grown weary of the entire procedure, waiting for white men to do something for him, and so he himself took the chance to escape. Aunt Alexandra and Miss Maudie realize Atticus’ merit and also perceive that he is being paid a high tribute by the few people in the society who acknowledge his worth.

Chapter 25

Things have eventually normalized at the Maycomb County. Jem and Scout spend their time lazing around. They hitch a ride from Atticus and travel with him and Calpurnia to Tom’s house. Helen, his wife, collapses on realizing the reason for their arrival.

The news of Tom’s death lasts for two days, with a few articles about it in the newspapers. Ewell’s name still causes an uneasy feeling in Scout but Jem placates her, saying that "Mr. Ewell was more hot gas than anything."

There is very little of action in this chapter; almost like a lull before the next storm. The interest and excitement over Tom’s trial and his subsequent death has waned. Even the warning given by Ewell to Atticus has lost its force over the children.

Helen’s silent reaction over her husband’s death may seem unnatural, but it is as if she always knew about the inevitability of her husband’s death. His death sentence had already been written the moment Mayella Ewell had opened her mouth to scream. Society had still not improved so much that a black would be given precedence over a white. Both Tom and Helen knew this all the while.

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