To Kill a Mockingbird – Chapter 25

Jem stops her, explaining that the defenseless bug had done nothing to her. Like the mockingbird, the roly-poly bug is a symbol of innocence. The incident underscores the theme that thoughtless actions and/or deliberate cruelty can cause the destruction of innocent creatures, a concept that is most clearly illuminated by the death of Tom Robinson. As Scout is about to kill a roly-poly bug. What stops her from doing it? What themedoes the incident underscore?
When Helen saw Atticus in her yard, she seemed to know what had happened even before he told her. According to Dill, she said hello to Atticus and then suddenly collapsed: “…she just fell down in the dirt…like a giant with a big foot just came along and stepped on her… Like you’d step on an ant.” Students should note that Dill’s simile parallels the incident with the roly-poly bug. Helen Robinson is another defenseless victim of the cruelty and injustice caused by others. Dill had been present when Atticus went to tell Helen Robinson the news of herhusband’s death. Summarize what happened at Helen’s house, according to Dill. Howdid she take the news?
They had been cruel, insensitive, and blatantly racist. According to Scout, “To Maycomb, Tom’s death was typical. Typical of a ***** to cut and run. Typical of a *****’s mentality to have no plan, no thought for the future, just run blind first chance he saw.” Scout recalls what people in Maycomb had said in the days following Tom’s death. What had been the general attitude of the townspeople when they heard the news?
Mr. Underwood compared Tom’s death to “the senseless slaughter of songbirds.” The metaphor is an obvious reference to the book’s title, To Kill a Mockingbird, and emphasizes one of the novel’s major themes: the merciless destruction of innocent creatures caused by the cruel and thoughtless actions of others. To what did Mr. Underwood’s editorial compare Tom’s death? What is the significance of his comparison?
At first, Scout wondered how Tom’s death could be characterized as a senseless killing: “Tom had been given due process of law to the day of his death; he had been tried openly and convicted by twelve good men and true; my father had fought for him all the way.” She later realized what Mr. Underwood had meant. Tom Robinson had received no justice at all; the trial and conviction had been a travesty. Ultimately, Tom’s death was caused by Maycomb’s racism: “Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men’s hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed.” What was Scout initially confused about when she read the editorial? What ultimately became clear to her upon later reflection?
According to Stephanie Crawford, Mr. Ewell said that Tom’s death “made one down and about two more to go.” This remark implies that Ewell is seeking revenge upon two or more people. The remark is open to interpretation, as he could be referring to a number of people.Examples: his own daughter, Jem and Scout, Atticus, Judge Taylor, members of Tom’s family, or other members of the black community. What remark did Mr. Ewell make upon hearing of Tom’s death? What is the significance of the remark?

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