To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter 28
Summary

When Scout discovers that her dad and aunt can't make it to the pageant, she performs their part in the kitchen wearing a bulky costume. Jem and Scout leave for school, and the path is rather too dark. They are startled when Cecil jumps out at them. Once they get to school, Jem joins his friends while Cecil and Scout run to play before they could present. When the presentation starts, Scout is late for her position forcing the host to call for her twice, which amuses the crowd but embarrasses Scout. She leaves her costume on while walking home to hide her embarrassment.

Once on the dark path, Jem and Scout realize that someone is following them and they start running. They do not get far when all of a sudden Scout trips on her costume and falls. Jem grabs her hand and attempts to run again but they do not go far with Scout still stuck in her costume. Once they get near the road, Scout feels her brother’s hand leaving hers, and in a second she hears him scream in a different spot, and she turns towards the direction. All of a sudden the attacker is thrown to the ground by yet another stranger. And just as the fight begins, it ends. Scout calls for Jem but he does not answer, then she sees a man coughing by the tree. The man starts staggering towards the streets carrying something heavy, and when he reaches the streetlights, Scout realizes the man was carrying Jem towards their house. When she gets home she sees the man talking to his father then they carry Jem inside the house. The doctor and sheriff arrive after some time and while the doctor examines Jem's condition, the sheriff leaves the scene. When he returns, he reports having seen Scout's costume and Bob Ewell's dead body where Scout and Jem were attacked. Ewell had a knife stuck under his ribs.

Analysis

This chapter has lots of action and mystery, and with Jem’s arm shattered, we come full circle to Scout’s reference to his broken arm in chapter one. The bond between Scout and Jem is evident here, despite their age and gender differences. The man who helps the children seems to be Boo Radley, and the revelation of Bob Ewell’s death act as tense lead-ins to Scout meeting Boo face-to-face. Just like Tom Robinson’s mangled arm and Boo Radley’s reclusive nature, Jem’s shattered arm symbolizes the mockingbird, an innocent, vulnerable creature. But they prove that despite the fact that they could be wounded, they are not completely broken.

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