To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee
Contributed by Sharon Fleming
Chapter 8

The weather changes and the kids have their first view of snow. Since school is canceled, they spend the day making snowman. In the afternoon the snow stops but the cold persists. That night, Atticus wakes Scout up to dress and leave the house since Miss Maudie's house is on fire. The kids are told to stand in front of the Radley property as Atticus, and other neighbors salvage Maudie's belongings and prevent the fire from spreading.

Finally, the fire is stopped, but Miss Maudie's home is gone. As the kids return to the house, Atticus discovers a strange blanket on Scout's shoulders. Neither Jem nor Scout can remember who wrapped it around Scout; when it dawns on them that it might have been Boo Radley. Atticus suggests they fold and return it, but Jem declines. Then he reveals their secrets about the gifts, the evening in Radley's garden and finding his stitched pants. Atticus calms him down by promising him that the blanket will be a secret between them. In the morning, the kids find Miss Maudie sitting in her backyard, not aggrieved about her loss. She admits that she never liked the house and was already planning on the house to replace it with. She admits she was more worried about her neighbors during the fire.


Jem and Scout are both beginning to view Boo Radley in a different way. They no longer see him as the monster of the neighborhood stories. They view him as a human being. The fact that they believe he is so lonely now makes them feel sad for him; not scared of him. Miss Maudie’s words to the children are the reason why they now view someone who is very different from them as a good person. They still feel a little uneasy when Boo Radley is brought up, but they begin to see him as someone who should be protected; not feared. Their changing attitude towards Boo Radley indicates an openness which would provide more objectivity and fairness in Tom Robinson’s case were it practiced more widely in the community. Scout is surprised by the way Miss Maudie isn’t bothered about her house which burnt down with her possessions, but Miss Maudie tells her that she was more worried about the fire hurting her neighbors than she was about her own possessions. Her kindness and selflessness is a show of strength that the Finch family will need later in the book.

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