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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird

by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 15 Summary

  • It's arranged that Dill can stay in Maycomb for the summer.
  • After an uneventful week, one evening Mr. Heck Tate knocks on the front door of the Finch house. Some men want Atticus to step outside.
  • The bits of the conversation Scout can hear are about Tom Robinson: Tate doesn't want to keep him in the town jail the night before the trial starts.
  • There are some back-and-forth threats, and then Atticus says that he's going to make sure that the truth gets told.
  • Tension rises, until Jem shouts that the telephone's ringing. Atticus tells him to answer it, causing the men—whom Scout now recognizes as people she sees every day—to go off laughing.
  • Was that a gang? Nope, Atticus says. Those were their friends.
  • Yeah, some friends.
  • What about the Ku Klux Klan? They're gone and will never come back.
  • (Sadly, not true. They came back in the 1950s, when the Civil Rights Movement took off.)
  • Sunday comes, and Scout sees some men at church who don't usually attend, including Mr. Heck Tate and Mr. Underwood, the editor of The Maycomb Tribune.
  • Tom Robinson has arrived at the Maycomb jail.
  • The evening, something weird happens: Atticus comes into the living room with a light bulb and an extension cord. He says that he's going out for a while and won't be back till after the kids are in bed.
  • Strange event #2: Atticus takes the car, instead of walking like he usually does.
  • Obviously, the kids sneak out to follow him.
  • Finally they see him in front of the jail, reading by the light of the light bulb he went off with.
  • Four cars drive up.
  • Atticus puts down his newspaper, and Scout thinks that he seems to be expecting these visitors.
  • The kids hide in a nearby doorway and overhear a man telling Atticus to move away from the door and let them through.
  • Atticus tells them to go home and that Heck Tate's nearby.
  • Another man says that they decoyed Tate out into the woods. He's not coming back any time soon.
  • There's some threatening talk, and Scout can't take it: she runs out to Atticus.
  • For a moment Atticus looks afraid when he sees Scout, and Scout's upset, too: these aren't the same men as last night.
  • Atticus tells Jem to take Scout and Dill home, but Jem doesn't want to. Father and son face off.
  • One of the men grabs Jem, and Scout kicks him right where it counts, making him back off.
  • Finally, Scout sees a familiar face: Mr. Cunningham. And she starts talking.
  • She asks him about his entailment, tells him to say hi to Walter for her, and keeps prattling away until his lack of answers really starts to get to her.
  • Just then, Mr. Cunningham squats down and tells Scout that he's going to give Walter her message. He tells the other men that they're going to leave, and they do. Whew!
  • A voice comes from above: Tom Robinson is asking if the men have gone.
  • From across the square, another voice: Mr. Underwood has been playing sniper backup from The Maycomb Tribune office.
  • Atticus and Mr. Underwood talk for a while, and then Atticus and the kids take Atticus's stuff to his car to go home.
  • Scout thinks Jem is going to get royally chewed out for following Atticus into town, but her dad actually just rubs his head affectionately.
  • Adults. They are so weird.

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