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To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird


by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 28 Summary

  • It's a warm but windy moonless evening as Jem and Scout walk from their house to the high school, Jem carrying Scout's ham costume.
  • The kids joke about "haints," which no longer seem scary now that they're so grown up.
  • As they pass through a field, someone leaps out at them with a light. Eek!
  • Oh, it's only Cecil Jacobs.
  • They all head over the auditorium, and Scout wriggles into her slightly mashed ham costume.
  • But she falls asleep and misses her cue, earning a big scolding from Mrs. Merriweather.
  • Scout doesn't want to face anyone after her goof, so she keeps her ham costume on for anonymity.
  • Not that dressing as a giant ham is a great way to ensure anonymity.
  • They leave the school to go back the way they came, through the midnight-black field.
  • Scout realizes she's forgotten her shoes. When they turn back to get them the lights at the school go off, and Jem tells her she'll have to go back tomorrow.
  • Jem seems nervous about something, and tells Scout to shush for a while.
  • Scout tells him she's too old to play these games.
  • It's not a game. Jem tells her he hears something when they're walking, but it stops when they do.
  • Jem says it's probably just Cecil. How can Cecil can see them in the darkness? The fat streaks in her ham are made with reflective paint.
  • Scout shouts a teasing comment at Cecil Jacobs, but doesn't get any response.
  • It's weird for Cecil to delay the payoff of a prank for so long.
  • Can Scout take off her costume? She thinks so, but she's not wearing much under it. Jem has her dress, but she can't put it on in the dark.
  • And then Scout realizes that Jem knows their stalker isn't Cecil, but he's pretending he thinks it is so as not to scare her.
  • Then the stalker runs towards them, and it's not a kid. It's a man.
  • Jem screams at Scout to run, but she's off-kilter in her ham costume and she falls to the ground.
  • There's fighting, but Scout can't see. More fighting, and then a crunch and a scream from Jem.
  • Scout runs back towards Jem and crashes into a man's stomach.
  • The man squeezes her until she can barely breathe, but suddenly falls backwards; Scout thinks Jem must have gotten up.
  • The night is quiet again, except for the sound of a man wheezing.
  • Scout calls out Jem's name, but he doesn't answer.
  • Eventually Scout realizes that there's two men under the tree besides her and Jem.
  • She says Atticus's name hesitatingly, but still gets no answer.
  • The man walks towards the road, and Scout goes to where he had been, looking for Jem.
  • Instead she finds a man lying on the ground smelling of booze.
  • Scout finally makes her way over the road, and in the light of the street lamp Scout sees a man carrying Jem, whose arm is hanging at an unnatural angle.
  • The man heads to the Finch house, where Atticus lets him in.
  • There's a bunch of running around, and Atticus and Alexandra call a doctor and the sheriff, in that order.
  • Aunt Alexandra de-hams Scout and asks her what happened, but Scout says she doesn't know.
  • Dr. Reynolds arrives and tends to Jem's broken arm and concussion, and then to Scout, who's also gotten knocked around the head.
  • In Jem's room, Scout sees Atticus, Aunt Alexandra, and a man she doesn't know.
  • Mr. Tate arrives with news: he's found a pink dress, some pieces of ham-colored cloth—and the corpse of Bob Ewell, who's been stabbed to death.

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