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To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee

THE STORY

PART TWO

CHAPTER 31

Bob Ewell's attack and death has had one unexpected consequence: Scout's childhood fantasy of luring Boo Radley out of his house has been fulfilled.

Now that she actually finds herself entertaining Boo on her front porch, Scout finds it hard to fit that old nickname to the man she sees. Boo Radley, the mysterious and scary neighborhood recluse has become in her eyes plain Mr. Arthur Radley, a timid and nervous middle-aged man. It is difficult to imagine that this is the same person who stabbed Bob Ewell earlier in the evening.


Some instinct makes Scout understand that she will now have to play the part of the grownup and take care of Arthur. She takes him by the arm and lets him have one last look at Jem, now sleeping peacefully in his bed, and then leads him carefully back to his own house. Standing on the Radley porch for the first time in her life, Scout can see as she never could before how the neighborhood, and her own childish games, must have looked to Arthur Radley- how he must have watched with shy curiosity, and enjoyed seeing their amazement when they found his small gifts hidden in the knothole of the oak tree. Years later, when Bob Ewell attacked the children under that same tree, Arthur Radley must have felt a special obligation to protect them.

Returning home, Scout finds her father sitting up reading a book of Jem's called The Gray Ghost. Atticus refuses at first to read aloud to her. The story is a scary one, he says, and Scout has had enough scary experiences for one day. But Scout is not afraid: "nothin's real scary except in books," she tells Atticus.

What do you think Scout means by this? Perhaps she means that no one has the power to frighten you once you understand his motives and his way of seeing things. Even a person like Bob Ewell, who may attack you physically, has no real power over your mind.

That night Scout sleeps soundly, safe at home in her own bed. She never sees Mr. Arthur Radley again.

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© Copyright 1985 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
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