To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
To Kill a Mockingbird Chapter 31 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
"Read it out loud, please, Atticus. It's real scary."
"No," he said. "You've had enough scaring for a while. This is too-"
"Atticus, I wasn't scared."
He raised his eyebrows, and I protested: "Leastways not till I started telling Mr. Tate about it. Jem wasn't scared. Asked him and he said he wasn't. Besides, nothin's real scary except in books." (31.43-46)
Is Scout telling the truth about not being scared, or is this a white lie for Atticus's benefit, like Mr. Raymond's "drinking"? Scout suggests that telling the story of scary events is more fear-inducing than actually living through them—which fits with her not getting upset about the lynch mob until after she was safe at home in bed and started thinking about what happened. But Atticus himself was scared in the present moment that night. Maybe this is another difference between adults and children, or maybe it's just a quirk of the way Scout herself sees the world. (If you ask us, both are scary. We'll just be over here hiding under the blankets.)
I looked behind me. To the left of the brown door was a long shuttered window. I walked to it, stood in front of it, and turned around. In daylight, I thought, you could see to the post office corner. […]
Atticus was right. One time he said you never really know a man until you stand in his shoes and walk around in them. Just standing on the Radley porch was enough. (31.25-31)
Talk about talking things too literally: Scout actually stands on the Radley porch and imagines what Boo has seen over the last few years. And what Boo has seen—the life and times of Jem and Scout—has made him feel compassion for them. Are "seeing someone" and "imagining what someone else sees" different? What is it about seeing in particular that sparks compassionate feelings?