Chapter 14 Scout Shows the Way
The extract Scout Shows the Way taken from the novel To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee discusses how a young girl called Scout dismissed an angry mob with her intelligence and generosity. Through the novel the author is trying to outline the racism, hypocrisy, and heroism present in the deep South. All you need to know and learn about this chapter is given below.
Meet the Author
- Nelle Harper Lee is an American novelist known for the realism in her works.
- Born: 28th April 1926
- Died: 19th February 2016
- Place of Birth: Alabama, United States
- Major Books: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Go Set a Watchman’.
- Best known for: Speaking about racial discrimination and the life of South America during the 1930.
Historical background to the Novel
Harper Lee's debut novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ published in the year 1960 was an immediate success. It won the Pulitzer prize and soon became a classic of modern American literature.
The plot of the novel is based on her observations of her family and neighbours in her hometown during 1936. She was 10 years old during this time. The novel is set in the backdrop of the great depression. The time frame of the novel is between 1933-35 in a fictional tired and old town of Maycomb, Alabama.
Summary of the Chapter
The characters in this extract include Jean Louis Finch (Scout), a 6 year old girl who lives with her elder brother Jem and her father Atticus. Atticus is a white middle-aged man and a lawyer. George Taylor appoints him to defend Tom Robinson who is a black man accused of a dangerous crime. Other children in the locality tends to taunt Jem and Scout for their father’s action and calls him a 'nigger-lover'. This displays the heavily rooted racism in the society.
The chapter begins when Scout and Jem come to find their father seated against the jail door. Initially they don't wish to disturb their father who is busy reading the newspaper but soon a few cars drive in next to the jail and a mob of men step out of those cars. Jem and Scout are escorted by their friend Dill.
In ones and twos and got out of the cars. Shadows became substance as light revealed solid shapes moving towards the jail door. Atticus remained where he was. The men hid him from the view.
It seemed as if Atticus was aware of the visit of these strange men as he was not surprised to see them. The children ran to Tyndal's Hardware door close enough to watch what was happening to their father. Soon Jem understood that his father was in danger and came to his defence.
Even though Atticus wanted the kids to leave home they did not listen to his orders. Meanwhile, Scout started to look for a familiar face among the mob. She was able to spot Mr Cunningham. She travels with Mr Cunningham’s son Walter to school. Through her father she was completely aware of the legal struggle that Mr Cunningham was in. Hence she greeted Mr Cunningham and asked about his ‘entailment’ and how he was getting along with those restrictions. [‘Entailment’ refers to the loss of control over your property or having limited access to it.] Mr Cunningham was not happy with her attempt in making a conversation with him.
He seemed uncomfortable, he cleared his throat and looked away. My friendly overture had fallen
But she did not let go of the chance. She went on to remind him about the time he had brought them some hickory nuts. She even mentioned Walter and her friendship with him. She had brought Walter home for dinner one time and even bet him once but he apparently took it well. Even after Scout mentioned these, Mr Cunningham did not show any interest in having a conversation with her.
Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in. Mr Cunningham displayed no interest in his son so I tackled his entailment once more in a last ditch effort to make him feel at home
Scout goes on to tell him that this entailment was acting bad upon him. Soon she realized that now she was talking to the entire group. Jem and her father were also interested and fascinated about her conversation.
She is totally confused why all the grown up men were staring at her without any expression on their faces. It disturbed her a little. Scout goes on to ask what was the matter for the silent stares. Both Atticus and Mr Cunningham said no word but both of them equally had an impassive look.
Entailments are bad, I was advising him, when I slowly walked to the fact that I was addressing the entire aggregation. The men were all looking at me, some had their mouths half-open.
Soon Cunningham said to the rest of the people in the mob to clear out. They moved up into their cars, slammed the doors and went away from Atticus. Scout turned back at Atticus but he had already walked into the jail. She asked him whether they could leave home right now and he nodded. A soft husky voice came from the darkness asking whether the men had dispersed.
Atticus replied by stating that all of them have gone and asked Tom to get some sleep since they are no longer going to bother him. The husky voice which came from the darkness was Tom the accused. We can now confirm that the mob had come to murder the accused black man Tom and Atticus was there to protect him from lynching. The rightful action of these kids saved a man's life. Scout’s simple questions and small talk loosened the hatred and made them rethink their actions.
"They have gone", he said. "Get some sleep Tom. They won't bother you anymore.
It is movie time! Did you know that there is an amazing movie adaptation of the book?
To Kill a Mockingbird The 1962 American drama film named after the book itself was directed by Robert Mulligan. The screenplay was done by Horton Foote. It won the Academy award for ‘Best Writing’ (adapted screenplay) in 1963.
Racism is the prejudice one shows to another community or individual, particularly to an ethnic or a racial group. In the US, African Americans were discriminated against for their skin colour. It was then manifested in various forms and means including slavery and segregation.
Great Depression in America
The great depression started in America during the early 1930s. The stock market crash of 1929 led to panic selling of stocks that amplified and ruined the market structure. This led to massive unemployment, deflation and homelessness. The minority groups including the African Americans were mostly affected by this.
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Scout Shows the Way Questions and Answers
Below are a few questions that you can look out for your examinations and class tests. Stand out with perfectly written answers with help of Aneetta Class.
The children loved Mr Atticus and they were aware that he was in danger. Hence I did not leave him alone.
Scout is the narrator. Jim, her brother and Dill, her friend accompanied her.
Atticus was not surprised to see the group of men. He wasn't surprised by the group of angry men but he was rather calm. However, we understand that he was relieved when the men left as he wiped his face with the handkerchief.