To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 8 Summary

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  • 0:04 A Brief Review
  • 0:23 It's Snowing!
  • 1:52 Fire!
  • 2:29 Was That Really Boo?
  • 2:53 Miss Maudie The Optimist
  • 3:24 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ann Morris

Ann has taught secondary language arts and has a master's degree in journalism.

In chapter 8, Scout experiences several memorable events in a single winter, including a close encounter with Boo Radley during a neighborhood crisis. Read this lesson for a summary of the chapter.

A Brief Review

So far in the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout, her brother, Jem, and their friend Dill have been getting closer and closer to understanding who Boo Radley really is. In Chapter 8, we will see more evidence that Boo is a very real and caring person who is trying to reach out to Scout and Jem.

It's Snowing!

At the beginning of Chapter 8, we learn that the winter of Scout's second-grade year is proving to be eventful. First, Mrs. Radley dies over the wintertime, and Scout and Jem can't help but theorize that Boo killed her. They are even somewhat disappointed when Atticus informs them that she died of natural causes.

Next, the siblings see snow for the first time. The strange wet flakes falling from the sky convince her that the world is coming to an end - at least until her father reassures her that it's just snow. The town of Maycomb is clearly not prepared to manage snow, because the schools close. This leaves Scout and Jem free to spend the day enjoying their unusual weather. The Finches' grumpy neighbor, Mr. Avery, uses the wintry precipitation to make a point: he tells Scout and Jem the seasons change because of bad kids like them. Not to be deterred, the siblings plan a clever retaliation.

Mr. Avery, the Angry Snowman

With Miss Maudie's permission, Scout and Jem haul her snow to their own front yard in preparation for the making of a masterpiece. Scout transfers their backyard accumulation of snow to their front yard, while her brother hauls dirt from the backyard to the front. The kids then build a dirt snowman, cover it with snow, and give it an angry expression, not unlike Mr. Avery's.

Upon his arrival home, Atticus compliments Jem on his resourcefulness but notices the white figure's resemblance to their grouchy neighbor and insists that the kids disguise it.

Fire!

That night, the temperature drops to sixteen degrees. It is in this frigid environment that Atticus wakes Scout and Jem and rushes them outside, where they see Miss Maudie's house engulfed in flames. Obeying Atticus's order, the kids stand in front of the Radley home and watch from a distance as neighbors rush to salvage some of Miss Maudie's furniture.

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