To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter 30

The doctor tells everyone to leave the room for him and Jem, and though anxious, Scout guides Boo to the porch where the discussion continues. Atticus tries to defend his son claiming he killed Ewell in self-defense while Tate says multiple times that Jem did not kill Ewell that he fell on his knife. Atticus insists on his side of the story, but after some time he realizes what the sheriff was trying to do. He was covering up for Boo by stating that Ewell fell on his own knife. He states that his decision as the sheriff of the Maycomb County was final.


Sheriff Tate realizes before Atticus that Boo Radley killed Bob Ewell. The fact that he took Ewell’s switchblade suggests that he has already decided how things must play out. Atticus realizes that Boo Radley saved his children both in the moment and in the long term; by eliminating Bob Ewell’s potential threat and ensuring he will never be a threat to them again. Atticus’s sense of justice and moral code shapes his actions. He follows the sheriff’s advice to stand behind his account that Bob Ewell’s wound was self-inflicted. Atticus realizes Scout’s maturity when she agrees to play along, claiming that turning Boo in would be like ‘shooting a mockingbird.’

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