To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 29 Summary

Instructor: Erica Schimmel

Erica has taught college English writing and literature courses and has a master's degree in children's literature.

Bob Ewell has attempted to follow through on his threat to go after Atticus and his children. In chapter 29 of ''To Kill a Mockingbird,'' Scout tells Mr. Heck Tate what she remembers of the incident.

Background Information

Since the end of Tom Robinson's trial, Bob Ewell had been threatening revenge on Atticus. Even though the jury found Tom guilty, Bob remained angry that Atticus showed, in a court of law, that Bob was a liar who beat his children. In the previous chapter, Bob attempted to make good on his threat by going after Jem and Scout. Though Jem received a broken elbow, and both children sustained bumps and bruises, they survived the attack through the help of an unknown man. While investigating the attack, Mr. Heck Tate found Bob Ewell stabbed to death with a kitchen knife under the tree where he attacked Jem and Scout. In chapter 29, Mr. Tate asks Scout to share her memory of what happened.

'Are You Sure?'

Still upset from the attack on Jem and Scout, Aunt Alexandra and Atticus are stunned by Mr. Tate's news that Bob Ewell is dead. Aunt Alexandra stands, reaching to balance herself on the mantelpiece. Scout observes how, for the first time she can remember, Atticus's 'instinctive courtesy' fails him as he remains seated. Scout then recalls Bob insisting he would 'get Atticus if it took him the rest of his life.'

Atticus asks Mr. Tate whether he is sure. Mr. Tate responds by saying he is positive Bob is dead, and he will not be able to hurt the children again. Atticus murmurs he did not mean that, but does not elaborate on what he did mean. Scout notices he is showing his age, which is 'his one sign of inner turmoil.' She notices his jawline soften, the creases around his ears, and the gray hairs at his temple.

Aunt Alexandra asks if they should move out of Jem's bedroom into the living room, but Mr. Tate prefers to stay where they are so he can inspect Jem's injuries while Scout tells them what happened. Obviously shaken, Aunt Alexandra asks to excuse herself. As she is leaving, she pauses in the doorway to apologize to Atticus. She says she had a bad feeling earlier in the evening, and it is her fault for not acting on that bad feeling. Mr. Tate quiets her, acknowledging she is in shock from the night's events, and tells her to go ahead and excuse herself.

Scout Tells What Happened

Mr. Tate invites Scout to begin telling her recollection of the evening. Before she begins, Scout goes to Atticus, who holds her while she speaks. First, she recalls heading home from the gymnasium, how she had left her shoes behind, and how Jem insisted that she retrieve them the next day. She then remembers Jem being spooked by a noise, but they ultimately decided it was her classmate, Cecil Jacobs, who had scared them earlier in the evening.

Mr. Tate interrupts Scout when she says both she and Jem yelled at Cecil. He asks Atticus whether he had heard any of the yelling, but both Atticus and Aunt Alexandra were listening to their radios. When Mr. Tate wonders whether any neighbors heard anything, Atticus thinks it likely they were listening to their radios or sleeping.

Scout mentions her costume and how Jem could see her because there was shiny paint on the side. Atticus explains to a confused Mr. Tate that Scout had been dressed as a ham for the Halloween pageant, and the costume was constructed of chicken wire. He mentions that the costume was 'crushed to a pulp' when Scout got home. Mr. Tate asks to see the costume, explaining he had wondered where the little holes in Bob's sleeves had come from. When he inspects the costume, Mr. Tate points out that a 'shiny clean line' stands out on the 'dull wire' where Bob had tried to stab Scout. Had she not been wearing the costume, he says, Bob would have succeeded in killing her.

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