Molly has ten years of middle school teaching experience and two master's degrees in teaching.
A Surfacing Tension
In Part Two of To Kill a Mockingbird, we begin to see Scout and Jem grow up and slightly apart. With Aunt Alexandra's impeding influence, Jem is beginning to think that Scout needs to act more like a girl. Jem is older now, and Scout is having a harder time relating to him, causing them to fight more frequently. The situation is only aggravated by Atticus being called to the state legislature for a few weeks, and of course the case of Tom Robinson.
Chapter 14 Summary
Scout and Jem are feeling the effects of Atticus's representation of Tom Robinson. While downtown, people whisper and make comments as they pass by, comments the children don't fully understand. Scout even has to ask Atticus what the word 'rape' means. The conversation leads to Scout telling Atticus that their black maid, Calpurnia, took them to her church a few weeks before and has invited them again. Overhearing this, Aunt Alexandra has a fit and tells the children they are not to return.
Defiant of her aunt, Scout turns to her and says, 'I didn't ask you!' Atticus quickly gets to his feet and tells Scout to apologize. She does and then leaves the room, only for Aunt Alexandra and Atticus to have a conversation about keeping Calpurnia. Sensing the tension, Jem motions for Scout to go to his room. With the door closed, Jem tells Scout that she needs to watch what she says to Aunt Alexandra. His lecture upsets Scout even more, and she goes after him. In the midst of fighting, Atticus comes in, breaks it up, and sends Scout to her room.
Once in her room, Scout begins walking in the dark to turn on the light. Unexpectedly, she steps on something that she believes is alive. When she turns on the light, there is nothing there. She knocks on Jem's adjoining door to ask him about it, and he goes to get a broom in case it's a snake. Instead, it turns out to be Dill, whom they find hiding under the bed.
Dill has run away from his parents; he is starving and tired. Jem reminds Dill that his parents are probably looking for him and that he should contact them to let them know he is okay. Jem then goes to get Atticus. Atticus feeds Dill, but tells him that he needs to contact his Aunt Rachel. Jem tries to defend his reasoning for telling an adult, but Scout and Dill won't hear it.
Dill sneaks into Scout's room later that night because he is still mad at Jem for telling Atticus of his arrival. Scout asks Dill why he ran away, and he says it isn't because his parents are mean, but that they just don't want him around. Scout is feeling the opposite, like she can't do anything with adults always present. However, she realizes that having too many people to care for her is better than having no one at all. This deep care for one another in the Finch household will show its true colors in chapter 15.
Part Two is a turning point for To Kill a Mockingbird in a number of ways. The case of Tom Robinson gives this section a more serious tone, with issues of race and justice, all from the eyes of young children. It is also a turning point for Scout's relationship with Jem. As Jem gets older, he begins to see things differently than Scout. She takes this personally, like he is becoming more of a parent than a sibling. He tells her, 'Scout, try not to antagonize Aunty, hear?' when the two of them begin to quarrel. He refers to himself as an adult, tells Scout that he will spank her, and tells Atticus that Dill has run away. When Scout is talking to Dill about the adults always watching, she is alluding to the fact that Jem has become one of them. She questions his trust and misses the connection she had with him before.
Jem's maturity is a symbol of the loss of innocence, especially with the looming Robinson trial. While Scout is still somewhat naive regarding the words and feelings of the townspeople toward the Finches, Jem is beginning to understand the racial divide in Maycomb.
Dill returns to Maycomb, but his visit isn't like his previous ones. Jem and Scout find themselves at odds with each other, especially now that Scout feels like Jem is acting like a grown up. The Tom Robinson case is affecting everyone, especially the Finches, as they deal with hatred and anger towards Atticus's involvement. Tension in Maycomb will only continue to grow as the trial date approaches.
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