Study Guide

To Kill a Mockingbird What’s Up With the Ending?

By Harper Lee

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What’s Up With the Ending?

With Ewell out of the way, it's smooth sailing for the Finches, right?

Well, maybe. Ewell's death may end the immediate threat to their well-being, but there's a whole lot of Maycomb out there that maybe thought Ewell was trash, but also thought Tom deserved to fry. Will Ewell's death make them reconsider? Or will it all be business as usual in Maycomb? What happens after the end of a novel is always speculation, but it's hard to imagine that things will be much different in the immediate future.

It's definitely a bittersweet ending. Check out the last line:

"[Atticus] would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning." (31.56)

On the one hand, Atticus will always be there to help protect his kids. On the other, he's basically doing damage control, watching over his unconscious son after he was nearly killed. While the ending offers a comforting image, it comes out of pain and struggle, implying that neither the comfort nor the pain wholly wins out. And doesn't that sound a lot like growing up?

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